Time to fall back to three days a week of watering

And now a gentle reminder from the Southern Nevada Water Authority: Summer break is over; it's time to start conserving again.

Thursday marked the beginning of fall watering restrictions in the Las Vegas Valley.

From Sept. 1 through Oct. 31, landscape irrigation is limited to three assigned days a week. Until Oct. 1, sprinkler watering is prohibited from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., even on assigned days.

Mist systems at commercial businesses may not be used until May.

It's the hardest time of the year for the authority to sell conservation to its customers, spokesman J.C. Davis said.

For one thing, fall doesn't start for three weeks, and it might not feel like the end of summer for longer than that.

"It's hard for people to think that they only need to water three days a week because hot is hot," Davis said.

Experts insist that now is a good time to wean landscapes from summer soakings. Davis said lawns tend to have the most trouble in transition, but the rules allow for dry patches to be watered by hand.

The authority recently began rerunning television spots to remind people to change their watering clocks. Those who fail to get the message could receive a visit from the water police.

Last year at this time, local water agencies saw a 20 percent increase in the number of water waste complaints. As Davis joked, "It's clear people were waiting all summer to rat out their neighbors for watering on the wrong day."

The valley gets 90 percent of its water from the Colorado River by way of Lake Mead. As a temporary response to drought on the river, seasonal watering restrictions were adopted in 2003.

Many of those rules have since been made permanent.

Homes account for most of the valley's water consumption, and landscaping accounts for most of the water used at homes. From Nov. 1 through Feb. 29, landscape irrigation will be limited to one day a week.

You can find out your assigned days and get more details from the authority's Web site, www.snwa.com.