The board, management and staff of Helix Water District wish everyone in our service area a safe and prosperous new year. Finding just the right words to convey our feelings was difficult, but an end-of-year piece by longtime columnist Ann Landers struck us as appropriate:

Let this coming year be better than all the others, Vow to do some of the things you have always wanted to do but could not find the time. Call up a forgotten friend. Drop an old grudge, and replace it with some pleasant memories. Vow not to make a promise you do not think you can keep. Walk tall, and smile more. You will look 10 years younger. Do not be afraid to say, I love you. Say it again. They are the sweetest words in the world.

Good advice, but not the kind a water district usually gives. So, here’s some more advice: make a new year’s resolution to be water efficient. Save some time, water and money in 2016.

Outdoor water use accounts for over 50 percent of the average single family home’s total water use.  All of that water is often used to grow plants that aren’t right for the local climate, which not only leads to extra water use but also extra maintenance and green waste from mowing and pruning.  In 2016, resolve to make a change!

Resolution #1: Visit your sprinklers more often

Your sprinklers work hard and need regular tune-ups; spend a few minutes each month checking your system.  Turn it on and check for overspray and runoff.  Adjust sprinkler heads so that they don’t overspray the sidewalk, driveway, or street.  Check for leaks and replace any broken sprinkler nozzles.  If you have runoff, water is being applied faster than the soil can absorb it.  Try shorter or multiple run times reduce runoff by allowing water to soak into the soil.

Resolution #2: Make your soil healthy

Like people, plants thrive when they are healthy and well nourished.  As an added bonus, they use less water as well.  To create healthy soil, add a 2 to 3 inch layer of organic mulch in your landscape.  Mulch not only reduces evaporation and retains moisture in the soil, but also helps moderate temperature by keeping soil cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.  Organic mulch such as bark decomposes, enriching the soil with additional nutrients and creating better soil quality for your plants.  It also discourages weeds, reducing your maintenance.

Resolution #3: Upgrade your landscape

Do you have grass that is struggling due to the drought water restrictions?  If needed, keep a small area for kids and pets and replace the rest with California-friendly landscaping.  Water-wise plants and trees use up to 70 percent less water than thirsty, cool-season grass.  Replace inefficient overhead sprinklers with high-efficiency rotating nozzles or drip irrigation.  You may find yourself spending more time outdoors, enjoying the colors, fragrances, and wildlife that often come with a beautiful WaterSmart landscape.

Let’s all resolve to make 2016 better, happier, and more water-wise!