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Water Restrictions in Arlington, Ft Worth, and Dallas, Texas

September 4, 2011

As the drought torturing most of the state of Texas continues, many cities have tightened water restrictions. Ft Worth, Dallas, and Arlington, TX are all under some form of watering ban – unless the watering is done with soaker hoses, hand-held hoses or drip irrigation. Foundation problems are even more troubling than browning lawns in times of severe drought – a little water in the top four inches or so of soil will keep grass looking lush, but dry clay-rich soil around foundations can cause them to dry out and crack, leaving houses unlevel.

water schedule stage1

Ft. Worth watering schedule

Ft Worth watering restrictions are at Stage One, which means that on certain days, no watering is allowed / only certain types of property may be watered. On other days (twice a week) addresses ending in odd or even days may be watered.

In addition, watering before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m. is banned, unless by soaker hose, hand-held hose or drip irrigation.

Other water conservation guidelines for Ft Worth include:

  • Maintaining your sprinkler system to ensure sure there are no broken or leaky heads
  • Checking irrigation zone coverage areas, so sidewalks and streets aren’t inadvertently watered
  • Setting sprinkler system timers to manual to ensure systems don’t go off during rain

In Dallas, watering restrictions have been in place for years that ban watering between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. from April 1 to October 31 every year. This summer, the mandate has has helped stave off Stage One, which occurs when reservoirs are 35% depleted (currently, the depletion is only 18%).

However, the City of Dallas has requested that customers voluntarily follow water conservation guidelines for Dallas; customers with addresses ending in an even number should only water on Sundays and Thursdays and customers with addresses ending in odd numbers should water only on Saturdays and Wednesdays. If Stage One is reached, the Drought Management Plan will be triggered and this watering schedule will be mandatory.

Arlington watering restrictions follow Ft Worth’s, in accordance with Tarrant County water conservation guidelines. Residential customers whose addresses end in odd numbers (1, 3, 5, 7 or 9) are permitted to water lawns and landscapes only on Sundays and Thursdays; Addresses ending in even numbers (2, 4, 6, 8 or 0) water on Wednesdays and Saturdays only. Nonresidential customers, including apartments, businesses, parks and common areas, can water only on Tuesday and Fridays. No outdoor watering is allowed on Mondays, and the 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. restrictions remain.

Use of soaker hoses is permitted, but they cannot be left unattended or cause a runoff. No hosing of paved areas, such as sidewalks, driveways and parking lots, is permitted, and vehicle washing is limited to the use of hand-held buckets and a hose with a positive shutoff valve. Vehicles may be washed anytime at a carwash. No hosing of buildings or other structures is allowed except for fire protection.

Residents who ignore the restrictions will get a warning. Residents who ignore the warnings could have their sprinkler system cut off or face fines up to $2,000. While this can mean browner grass for many in Dallas and Tarrant County, the real problem is dry, cracked foundations due to clay soil contracting as the drought causes the earth to dry out deeper and deeper. A foundation drip irrigation system is legal to use, inexpensive to run, and can save homeowners thousands in foundation repair costs.


Cracked Foundations Due to Texas Drought

September 2, 2011

While the rest of the country is in economic crisis, foundation repair companies in Texas are doing a brisk business. Record dry conditions cause foundations to settle as clay-rich soil contracts, twisting house frames, causing cracks in walls, and preventing doors and windows from closing properly.

Homes built on concrete slabs which were placed on heavy clay soil are likely to see their foundation sink, crack and shift, causing multiple problems. When the weather is dry for a long time, the soil shrinks and pulls away from the foundation causing it to settle, or drop.

The most common fix for cracked or sunken foundations is pier underpinning, which can mean one of the following options: drilled bell bottom piers, steel, helical, and pushed piers (concrete cylinders that are “pushed” into the ground) – but this is expensive and may not be successful if the clay soil continues to destabilize around the home.

A licensed professional engineer will tell you that soil stabilization is the first step. A product like Condor SS can be used to bond with clay soil and make it less susceptible to water retention and loss that causes it to swell and contract. Once the ground under your foundation is stable, you can use foundation drip irrigation to keep your foundation from drying out and cracking.

Homeowners in North Texas with cracked foundation should consult an engineer first before jumping into a re-leveling of their house or a pier underpinning. Only a house on stable soil will benefit from foundation repair!

ABOVE: Workers from Lee Engineering in Arlington, Texas stabilize soil by chemical injection with Condor SS, an environmentally friendly chemical soil stabilization product.

Foundation Problems in Dallas, Ft Worth, and Arlington, Texas

September 1, 2011

Texas has an abundance of clay in its soil in many parts of the state, and the DFW metroplex is one of those areas. The problem with foundations built on clay is that clay really loves water; not only can it soaks water up from as far as 12 feet away, it changes shape and volume  as it does. The more water clay absorbs, the more it swells; then, as evaporation and compaction slowly remove the water, it contracts – which is why you can see huge cracks in dried out clay soil.

The dry, cracking clay is responsible for thousands upon thousands of cracked foundations, pot- holes, and collapsed retaining walls in Texas. The issue? most of NE Texas is part of both one huge clay corridor which runs north up through Oklahoma into Kansas, Nebraska and the Dakotas, and another that runs east clear to the Carolinas. According to Shane Kennedy, who with his family owns a company called Earth Science Products in Aurora, Ore., “Texas is truly ground zero.”

Fortunately, Earth Science has a solution for the clay problem, and its name is Condor SS. A sulphonated oil liquid made from the waste created in the refining of aviation fuel, Condor SS is injected into the clay-rich soil to stabilize it.

How does it work? Clay is formed as rare earth elements such as feldspar and granite degrade, and as a by-product of the process acquires a negative ionic charge. Water, which is electrically neutral but structured in such a way that the positive and negative charges are located at either end of each molecule, acquires a positive ionic charge as it flows through soil, creating a clay/water “affinity”.

Once Condor is introduced into the clay rich soil, it can replace water by sharing a proton with the clay molecule, forming a strong chemical bond through an ion exchange. As Kennedy puts it, “That soil becomes stable. It no longer will expand and contract with the introduction or withdrawal of moisture.”

Traditionally, contractors and developers have dealt with unstable clay in one of three ways: flood it, seal it, and cap it so it retains maximum moisture; drive foundation piers clear down to bedrock; or excavate the clay and replace it with more stable fill. The first option is cheap but not particularly effective over the long term. The second two options work well, but are prohibitively expensive.

Condor SS is injected into the soil using a specially outfitted dozer that can stabilize an verage building lot in a day. The cost, according to Kennedy, averages anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000 per lot, depending on the amount and type of clay in the soil. Thomas LaLonde, P.E., president of stabilEarth, an Arlington, Texas, engineering firm, says he uses Condor SS for several large home builders in the area.

“The use of Condor in treating our soils allows us to build houses on a soil foundation that has much less expansive movement to it,” says LaLonde. “That results in happier homeowners. It saves builders money in the longer term on warranty issues.”LaLonde has been using Condor SS for two-and-a-half years, and says he sees a 100 percent success rate on new construction and a 95 percent rate on remediation work.

Some developers are using Condor SS on entire communities. At Frisco Square near Dallas,TX, the entire 147-acre site was injected with Condor SS. “We stabilized the entire town,” says Kennedy. “All of the building pad sites, driveways, walkways, and parking lots were stabilized with Condor SS while under construction.”

Condor SS can be used both in the build phase and as a remedial solution for foundation problems caused by clay-rich soil.

How Water Conservation Sprinkler Heads Save Money

August 31, 2011

Not all lawn sprinklers are created equally. Water conservation sprinkler heads are not just a more eco-friendly option to your irrigation system needs, they are also a smart financial decision as they can actually save you money. While you may think a professionally installed lawn irrigation system is a luxury, if you are watering your lawn with a hose and sprayer or using portable sprinklers that you constantly need to move, you are losing money over the long run.

It sounds crazy, but there are actually rational answers behind why it is better to use a professionally installed water conservation head sprinkler system than a stopgap option which only appears cheaper. The technology behind water conservation head sprinklers is such that the sprinkler heads are designed to maintain a constant pressure at the sprinkler head. When you have consistent pressure you are able to produce larger water droplets. With larger water droplets you realize better coverage because you are no longer dealing with less accuracy due to over-spray.

Another way that the larger droplets produced by a water conservation head sprinkler make a difference is in the evaporation time. Larger water droplets are less susceptible to rapid evaporation than small droplets and fine spray type mists many sprinklers produce by default. Larger water droplets that are less prone to rapid evaporation seep into the soil at a higher rate which helps keep your grass green and healthy. That in turn means that you can run your sprinklers for a shorter period of time. A shorter run cycle combined with water conservation sprinkler heads saves water which saves money.

Typically, a normal sprinkler system will cost about $1,000 to operate annually. According to Lee Engineering in the Arlington/DFW region of Texas, a conservation water head sprinkler only costs about a third of that sum to operate annually. Something else worth mentioning is that in areas with water use restrictions and caps, a water conservation head sprinkler system can often help keep you within the usage caps while saving your lawn from an early brown-out.

Normally, a water conservation head sprinkler system will pay for itself within three years based on the savings you would see on your water bill. Depending on usage, primarily whether it is for seasonal or year round use, the savings can pile up even faster.

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