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Water districts expect us to conserve water. Customers are complaining about high water bills. But our #1 job is to keep the landscape looking healthy and green. So how do we do it? Improving irrigation efficiency is the job for a water manager.
May I suggest water conservation and efficient water use starts by looking for waste? Plants need water. If water used to irrigate does not benefit the plant, it is wasted. Our job as water managers is to look for and eliminate wasted water while making sure plants get enough water to be healthy and beautiful.
Irrigation systems have come a long way from the old days of flooding the area with water. There is still more we can do to eliminate waste. Let me share a few ideas of things you can look for that waste water and the steps you can take to reduce waste.
Water meters are installed at most properties to enable water departments to bill you for the water you use. Some water utilities may only read meters 6 times a year and send out bills every two months. Customers discover weeks later how much water they used.
A flow sensor is similar to a water meter; it measures the flow of water going through the pipe and feeds the flow rate into electronic control equipment. With a flow sensor connected to irrigation control devices water managers can track water use in real-time; not having to wait to get the water bill.
It seems like over the last few years everyone has been talking about drought and different ways to conserve water. As a homeowner, one of your larger uses of water is on your landscape. Getting a sprinkler timer was a great start to taking control of your outdoor water consumption. But when you get a sprinkler timer, all you are doing is creating a water schedule. A specified time of the day, the numbers of days per week that you permit your sprinklers to release much needed moisture into the soil. It may be that your city puts day of the week restrictions on you, or maybe you are scheduling based upon gallons of water used. Either way, what happens when your timer decides it’s time to turn the sprinklers on and it’s raining?
This is the last tuna can article. I hope these have helped you visualize that your sprinkler system applies water in measurable amounts of water. And the more water you apply, the deeper it will soak into the ground. Using tuna cans is a good way to measure sprinkler system performance but there are advanced techniques to get this job done.
What have we learned so far? In the last blog I wrote about improving watering uniformity. Don’t expect a smart control system to fix a bad sprinkler system. Tuna Can Lesson 2 reminded us that sprinklers apply water at different rates. Valve run-time is based on how much water needs to be applied and how fast the sprinklers apply water. I remember the very first time I setup a computer controlled irrigation system. After a week the customer called and said, “Take it back”. I said, “What’s wrong?” He said, “The grass is dying and the shrubs are drowning.” We checked it out. The wiring was wrong. The shrub bubblers were watering for over an hour and the big lawn sprinklers were watering for only 10 minutes. Once we fixed it, the system ran great.