A rain gauge is a low-tech tool for monitoring the amount of water your lawn gets, whether by precipitation or irrigation, or both. Using one could help you know if and when your lawn needs watering, which is especially important at this time because OUC has asked customers to limit irrigation due to a COVID-19-related shortage of liquid oxygen. We use liquid oxygen in our water treatment process, but supplies are stretched as regional health systems rely on it as a respiratory therapy for COVID patients.

A Florida lawn needs between 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week, which is practically assured in the rainy summer months. So, a rain gauge will tell you if Mother Nature is doing the job or irrigating your lawn for you, saving you money and reducing our use of liquid oxygen. Irrigation accounts for 40% of all OUC potable water consumption.

To ensure its accuracy, a gauge should be placed in a straight-up position in an open area and away from trees or other overhead structures. After a rainfall, extract the gauge and hold it at eye level. Measure the rainfall up to the bottom of the waterline. U.S. rain gauges measure in inches and tenths of an inch, so if the bottom of the waterline is closest to the third tenth mark above 1 inch, your lawn received 1.3 inches of rain.

To measure irrigation output, make sure the rain gauge is placed in the area your sprinkler system covers. Run your irrigation system for at least 30 minutes, then take a reading to see how much water you’ve applied. You can multiply the figure by two to see how much water your lawn would get in an hour. But keep in mind that during the summer you likely won’t need to apply a full inch to an inch-and-a-half of water in one irrigation treatment because daily showers are a constant possibility.

Click here to view St. Johns River Water Management District videos on making a homemade rain gauge and how to use the “catch can” method for measuring irrigation amounts.

Your irrigation system should be equipped with a rain sensor, which, if working properly, will automatically shut off sprinklers while rain is falling. Just make sure it’s in the active position. You could also consider installing an EPA WaterSense®-labeled controller on your irrigation system and save up to $200 with an OUC rebate.

Click here to read more about our smart controller rebate.