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.