Editor's note: The following is a question and answer with Animal Arts architectural firm. You can learn more about them from their website.
Question for Animal Arts: Do you have any tips on conserving water? We are trying to do everything we can to conserve, but we need to water the horses and the arenas.
Answer from Animal Arts: Thank you for this important question about water conservation. We have assembled a list for you of the most typical and effective ideas to save money and water resources at your barn:
1) Check for leaks. It might seem insignificant, but even a small leak can waste far more water than you realize. Look for leaky hose bibbs (where hoses connect), dripping faucets, leaky toilets and leaky waterers, then get those items repaired immediately.
2) Inform your boarders (if you have them) about your goal to conserve water. It can be a group effort at many barns, and people need to work together.
3) In studies done in people’s homes, upgrading a toilet to a low flow version can save 10-20% of water usage. If you have a toilet at the barn and it is more than a few years old, consider upgrading to a low-flow version. These have gotten much better and still “get the job done.”
4) Put water regulators on the end of the hoses and on the sinks that are used at the barn. You can go to your local hardware store and ask for advice. This will tend to make the water more pressurized, so leave the wash rack hose alone as you wouldn’t want to hurt the horses. But for general clean up or filling buckets, less water streaming out of hoses is just fine.
5) Also in residential studies, 60% of household water usage is related to watering landscaping. If you have landscaping around your barn, consider going to low-water-use plants. Many local gardening clubs and state agricultural extension agencies can tell you what plants will work best in your climate. Keep in mind that new plants require a lot of water, so you’ll need to water while plants get established, but once you have gone "drought tolerant" with landscaping, it will save a huge amount of water over time.
6) The biggest question is the arena. If you need to water the arena to keep down the dust, give it a pretty good soak early in the morning when the temperature is lowest and the dew point is highest so you lose less water to the atmosphere. Over time, it would be a great idea to consider dust-resistant products for your arena footing. Do a search for arena footing options and you’ll get some good ideas. This is obviously a big expense, so you might need to budget for it first. For a quicker fix some people consider an arena footing treatment. However, most have big downsides and we don’t recommend them. There is one that is a coating/binding product that is more environmentally friendly. It is call Arena RX. You could get a quote from them for your arena to significantly cut down on your water use in your location.