Reducing water use for grounds
Santa Clarita, Calif., replaced its irrigation controls this year to reduce water waste and improve the efficiency of its grounds maintenance operations. The city replaced inefficient, manual irrigation timers and connected new smart irrigation controllers with software that allows grounds maintenance supervisors to remotely monitor irrigation for 700 acres of the city's Landscape Maintenance Districts, including parks, medians and streetscapes.
The city's previous irrigation system required grounds maintenance crews to manually adjust the system's 336 irrigation timers as the weather changed. Two years ago, the city sought bids for a new system that could automatically adjust depending on rainfall and soil conditions, and could be centrally controlled. Numerous technologies were field-tested on landscapes with dedicated water meters to measure water savings and plant health. Jason La Riva, landscape maintenance specialist for Santa Clarita, says the goal of the program is to "start watering our landscapes based on the correct amount of water needed, but no more, without relying on manual program input via our contractors out in the field."
After a six-month evaluation, the city contracted with ValleyCrest Landscape Maintenance in November 2010 to install more than 500 WeatherTRAK Smart Irrigation Controllers from Petaluma, Calif.-based HydroPoint Data Systems. The new irrigation controllers dynamically adjust watering schedules as conditions warrant, and they connect wirelessly to an Internet-based management application that supervisors can use to remotely control irrigation and monitor activity in real-time.
Using the new technology, the city expects to save 180 million gallons of water annually, which will reduce its costs for irrigating city facilities by 25 to 40 percent. The city plans to apply the savings to fund future projects in each of its Landscape Maintenance Districts. The system also will help the city comply with the state's mandate that urban per capita water consumption be reduced 20 percent by 2020. "We do have a strong interest in how many dollars we are saving, but our most important focus is a reduction of the number of gallons of water we use," La Riva says. "We focus on gallons, and that means a return on money."
Project: Irrigation controller replacement
Jurisdiction: Santa Clarita, Calif.
Agency: Landscape Management District
Vendors: Petaluma, Calif.-based HydroPoint Data Systems; Calabasas, Calif.-based ValleyCrest Landscape Maintenance
Date completed: May 2011