Broward County Extension Helps Reduce Water Consumption
The South Florida Water Management District reports that South Florida residents consume 179 gallons per person per day – the highest water usage in the state. Outdoor irrigation accounts for up to 50 percent of water use in Florida, and up to 50 percent of the water applied to lawns is lost to evaporation or runoff. In response to this issue, the University of Florida – Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF-IFAS) developed the Florida-Friendly LandscapingTM (FFL) Program, which includes the Florida Yards and Neighborhoods program for residents and the Green Industries Best Management Practices program for professional landscapers and designers, to educate the public on how to conserve water.
Broward County Parks and Recreation Division and UF-IFAS Extension trains volunteer Master Gardeners to deliver educational programs on Florida-Friendly Landscaping in a variety of settings. Residents are taught FFL principles that include a number of specific ways for conserving water, such as the use of organic mulch, “right plant-right place”, proper irrigation methods, retaining water on properties to decrease runoff, and water harvest through the use of rain chains and barrels.
During FY 2009, Master Gardeners provided nearly 24,500 volunteer hours, equivalent to roughly 12 full-time staff members, and currently valued (at $20.25 per hour) at $496,125 in cost savings to Broward County. These highly trained volunteers conducted more than 600 educational events attended by nearly 49,000 residents. An overwhelming majority of these participants (80 percent) indicated they had adopted at least one new practice taught at the programs. If these practice changes resulted in a minimum water savings of 20 gallons of water per week per participant, this would be an annual total of 50,960,000 gallons for all participants, currently valued at nearly $130,000.
FFL’s effect on water consumption has also been measured at the community level. Florida-Friendly LandscapingTM practices were first implemented in 2006 at Tamarind Village, a community with 177 properties. For the first two years, irrigation water use decreased from 34.1 million to 27.7 million gallons annually, equivalent to a 31percent water savings. At an average of cost of $2.55 per thousand gallons, the 6.4 million gallons saved equate to $16,320 annually. This savings would not have been possible without the Local Master Gardener Coordinator working with her neighbor Master Gardener team to educate the property owners and supervise the implementation of FFL practices throughout the neighborhood.
For further information about this and other Urban Horticulture programs in Broward County, contact Dr. John Pipoly at or .
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