Author Archives: Cassidy

10 Ways to Save Water and Money with Your Sprinkler System

Here in the U.S. we done a good job at conserving water inside the home with low flow toilets, shower heads and faucets.  Unfortunately we are terrible at water conservation outside the home as we allowing our sprinkler systems to over-water our lawns by as much as 50% wasting thousands of gallons per month.    There are a number of DIY improvements you can make to your irrigation system to save a ton of water (and money) each month.  Here are our top 10 ideas.

Install a Smart Controller – There is no doubt that the best improvement you can make to your irrigation system is to add a smart controller.    The typical “dumb” irrigation controller is simply a timer set to run each zone for the same number of minutes year round.  Can you imagine operating your heat or air conditioning the same number of minutes each day throughout the entire year?   A good smart controller will determine the ideal amount of time to run each zone based on a number of factors including the time of year, plant material, slope, recent rainfall, soil type, current weather conditions and much more.

Utilize Seasonal Adjustments – If you’d rather not upgrade your controller to a smart controller then consider utilize the monthly adjustment feature in your current controller.  This will automatically adjust the time each zone is run based on the monthly water needs.  So, set June-July to 100% and each month (based on this chart) to a lower % of water usage.

Avoid Water Runoff –  If you run your sprinklers and have water running down your driveway, off the sidewalks and down the road then you are wasting water.  Unfortunately, this generally happens at 3 am and nobody notices it.   Water run off could be caused by a number of issues including poorly adjusted sprinkler heads spraying on concrete, too much water on a zone or even a leak in the system.

Misting from High Pressure

Install Pressure Regulators or Pressure Regulating Sprinkler Heads – Each sprinkler head is designed to work with a optimal water pressure range.  If your water pressure to that sprinkler head is too high then you’ll generate a great deal of waste through additional “mist” or “fog” that essentially evaporates before it reaches your soil.    If you see this in your irrigation system then consider replacing your sprinkler heads with pressure regulating sprinkler heads to ensure the proper pressure at each head.  You can now reduce the time each zone is running since more of the water is reaching your soil vs the air.

Install Water Efficient Sprinkler Nozzles – There has actually been quite a bit of technical improvements to sprinkler heads over the last 10 years.  Many sprinkler manufacturers have more efficient sprinkler head options that utilize matched perciptiation rates to ensure more of the water reaches your soil vs being evaporated or blown into your neighbor’s driveway.  Here is a good video about some  of the efficient sprinkler head nozzle options.

 

Ensure Your Rain/Freeze Sensor is Working

Utilize Drip Irrigation

Perform Regular Maintenance

Turn Off Your Sprinklers!

 

 

Long Term Implications of Shade Balls?

I’m all for utilizing the latest technology to combat the serious drought issues facing our world.  That said, I’m not sure “shade balls” are the best long term strategy as there serious implications to bringing more plastics (which never completely break down) into this world.  Watch the documentary Plastic Paradise for more information on that.

How about we start with a serious commitment to reducing our water usage first?

“Facing a long-term water crisis, officials concerned with preserving a reservoir in Los Angeles hatched a plan: They would combat four years of drought with 96 million plastic balls.

On Monday, Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles arrived at the 175-acre Los Angeles Reservoir to release the final installment of the project: 20,000 small black orbs that would float atop the water.

Mr. Garcetti said that the dark balls would help block sunlight and UV rays that promote algae growth, which would help keep the city’s drinking water safe. Officials also said the balls would help slow the rate of evaporation, which drains the water supply of about 300 million gallons a year. The balls cost $0.36 each and are part of a $34.5 million initiative to protect the water supply.”

Read the full story here.

Texas Legislators, “if the state doesn’t act soon texas will not have enough water to support itself.”

Texas is experiencing the worst one year drought in the state’s history according to the texas drought preparedness plan and officials say they’re expecting the state population to grow by 82 percent over the next 50 years.   This is great for the economy and business in the area the only problem is that the amount of water in the state is expected to increase by only 22 percent, leaving texas in a tight spot when it comes to water.

Complete story and video here.

More Moving to DFW than Anywhere Else…

Here is another great reason to start conserving water in DFW.  While our water supply is already under pressure, DFW is the #1 destination for Americans looking to move elsewhere.

Here are the top five cities where Americans are moving:

No. 1: Dallas-Fort Worth Metropolitan Statistical Area
Net Domestic Migration, 7/10 to 7/11: +39,021
July 2011 Population: 6,400,511

No. 2: Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach MSA
Net Domestic Migration, 7/10 to 7/11: +36,191
July 2011 Population: 5,578,080

No. 3: Austin, Texas
Net Domestic Migration, 7/10 to 7/11: +30,669
July 2011 Population: 1,728,247

No. 4: Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla.
Net Domestic Migration, 7/10 to 7/11: +27,157
July 2011 Population: 2,788,151

No. 5: Houston
Net Domestic Migration, 7/10 to 7/11: +21,580
July 2011 Population: 5,976,470

Read the fully story on Yahoo

Texas drought is rearing its ugly head again

May not be a popular opinion but I’m thinking we should expect this to be the new norm, not just a “season” of dry weather.  We need to start preparing to use less water.

“Ninety-four percent of Texas is now abnormally dry, 54 percent is stuck in severe drought and 25 percent is mired in the extreme category, up 10 percent from one week ago, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor released Thursday.”

“The rainfall deficit for April through November in DFW is pushing 10 inches, Huckabee said. In portions of Denton County, the deficit is as much as 16 inches over the last six months.”

Drought by the numbers
94: Percent of Texas that is abnormally dry
55: Percent of Texas in severe drought
25: Percent of Texas in extreme drought
64: Percent of capacity for Texas water storage reservoirs:
79: Percent of capacity for Tarrant Regional Water District
75: Percent of Four Sixes Ranch cattle that remain out of state.
40 to 45: Percent of wheat crop rated as poor or very poor
53: Percent of pastures in poor condition
0.05 inch: November rainfall in Dallas-Fort Worth.

Read the full story at the Star Telegram

Common Irrigation issues with Multifamily Properties

Broken Sprinkler Heads at Apartment Complex

Broken Sprinkler Head

As I make my rounds to visit the multifamily complex managers I see a number of irrigation issues that seem to exist at nearly all properties and result in millions of gallons and thousands of dollars in waste.   These issue generally stem from the fact that few property managers understand the financial impact of a poorly-optimized irrigation system and few maintenance managers have the knowledge (and time) to optimize the system for water conservation.

1.  Poor Controller Programming.  Many times I find sprinklers set to run during the peak evaporation periods and 3-5 times per week.  Granted, it can be challenging to set up the schedule for 87 zones but it appears that many maintenance managers take the easy road and allow them to run throughout the day.  After all, overwatering is easier than underwatering, especially with no accountably for water costs.

Sprinkler Misting from Too Much Pressure at Apartment Complex

Misting from High Pressure

2.  Excessive Water Pressure – Larger irrigation systems require larger water meters and piping which can easily lead to higher water pressures that exceed the recommended pressure for the sprinkler head.  Keep in mind that for every 5 PSI over the recommended head pressure you’ll lose roughly 8% of your water efficiency, much of that to “misting” ultimately evaporation.  So if the recommended head pressure is 35 PSI and the system is sending 60PSI to that head then you just utilized 40% more water than you needed.    Depending on the system, we’ll install a pressure regulator in the main line, new pressure regulating heads or simply replace the screens in the heads with pressure regulating screens.

3.  Broken Heads and Piping – Excessive water pressure can create excessive issues with broken heads and piping as it creates more wear-and-tear on the system.  I can generally tell there are pressure issues (and poor maintenance) when there are multiple broken heads.

Sprinkler Runoff at Apartment Complex

Excessive Irrigation Runoff

4.  Excessive Runoff – Runoff can be caused by broken heads or piping, misaligned heads spraying on hardscape or controller programing that applies water beyond the soil saturation point.   These issues can be resolved relatively easily but many times they go unchecked creating thousands of dollars in damage to parking lots and sidewalks.

Fortunately we can solve all these issues and set up the monitoring and inspections to avoid them in the future.   Just contact us for a free evaluation.  We may even be able to fund this work directly from the water savings it provides.

Smart Irrigation for Multifamily Communities

Apartment owners and managers are constantly looking for new opportunities to reduce operating costs while maintaining a great community.  With water costs increasing over 10% per year and apartments using millions of gallons for landscaping, now is the time to start considering smart irrigation technologies.

Many multifamily maintenance managers are focused more on “putting out fires” and have little time to proactively optimize the irrigation systems for maximum efficiency.   There is really no accountability for the landscape water usage and costs.

Our landscape water management service utilizes cutting-edge technology to ensure your apartment complex sprinkler system applies the precise amount of water for your plant type, soil type, temperature, slope and rainfall. We also remotely monitor, adjust and report the usage to the property manager.  We’ll now become accountable for the landscape water usage.  If you feel you are using too much water then you have someone to call.

Check out this great article from Chris Lee at the Property Manager Insider on Multifamily Communities are leveraging smart irrigation technologies to save water and money.

http://www.propertymanagementinsider.com/multifamily-communities-get-smart-about-irrigation-thanks-to-high-tech-sprinkler-systems.html

The Hydro-illogical Cycle

There’s the hydrological cycle, which describes how water moves across the earth, and then there’s the “hydro-illogical cycle,” which describes the painfully short memories of Americans after a drought.

“It’s where people go, ‘Oh look, we’re running out of water,’ and then it rains and everyone goes, ‘Oh, everything’s fine’ and go right back into the habits of what got us into a drought in the first place,” said Alyssa Burgin, executive director of the Texas Drought Project.

Read the rest of the story at the Fort Worth Weekly.

Low lake levels affecting bottom line

The prolonged drought is also having a negative impact on businesses and communities along Lake Travis who are having to readjust. Homes aren’t selling like they used to, and businesses are having to get used to what’s being called, a “reverse economy.”

Take a flight over Lake Travis and it’s easy to notice the water line has moved away from many pricey homes. While lake levels rise and drop over time, this one is testing the patience of those who make a living off the lake.

More info here