Watering within reason
In summer 2005, the Folsom, Calif., Utilities Department launched an initiative to improve water efficiency and reduce water waste in the city. “We were experiencing all the typical problems associated with sprinklers, including wind drift, water in the roadway as a result of runoff, and accelerated wear and tear on roads, buildings and sidewalks,” says Don Smith, water management coordinator for the department. “The asphalt on the roads was actually degrading faster as a result of all the water on it, and residents were complaining that their vehicles were constantly being sprayed because of all the wind drift.”
The Folsom City Council began asking residents to use water wisely, and the utilities department began analyzing how the city could improve its water use. A prime water waster was the Folsom Civic Center — a central city landmark — where spray-heads were irrigating everything from turf to trees, wasting significant amounts of water. Smith decided to replace the center’s landscape drip lines and nozzles with new equipment from Azusa, Calif.-based Rain Bird. The new nozzles’ multiple rotating streams, large water droplets and low stream trajectory resisted wind drift and had a more uniform wetting pattern than a traditional spray nozzle. In addition, the low precipitation rate would significantly reduce runoff — if not completely eliminate it.
The city retrofitted the irrigation equipment on a roadway median in 2006 to test its performance and found that it reduced the precipitation rate by 63 percent while increasing distribution uniformity by 25 percent. Next, the city replaced the Civic Center’s existing spray nozzles with the new rotary nozzles. Smith also used a retrofit kit to convert several existing spray zones to landscape drip tubing, which completely eliminated runoff.
Since replacing the nozzles and installing the landscape drip lines, water usage at the Civic Center has been reduced by about 3,000 gallons. “Our costs are lower and our landscapes are healthier as a result,” Smith says.
Water waste reduction
Azusa, Calif.-based Rain Bird