Is Your Landscape Irrigation System Ready for Winter?

Image result for winter residential landscape(Note: Portions of this article originally appeared in SportTurf Magazine)

The dreary days of November remind us that it’s time to start thinking about preparing your irrigation systems for winter.

Here are some tips for winterizing an irrigation system:

Preventing Pipe Damage

Of course, water expands when it freezes. Since automatic irrigation systems are usually buried only about twelve inches below the surface of the soil, any water left in the system over the winter (even a mild winter) will certainly freeze. This causes damage to pipes, fittings, valves, and sprinklers. And this damage can be expensive and time-consuming to repair next spring. So, preventing winter damage by properly winterizing the irrigation system is important.

The following video clip demonstrates the consequences of failing to do so:

 

The most common method of winterization is to use compressed air to force water out of the irrigation system. However, some irrigation systems are equipped with automatic or manual drain valves. These do not require compressed air to winterize. Check with your installing contractor to determine if your irrigation system has automatic or manual drain valves.

If you’re not sure, then go ahead and use compressed air. Using compressed air on an irrigation system equipped with automatic or manual drain valves will not harm the system components, and will ensure the irrigation system is properly winterized.

Selecting an Air Compressor

Air compressors are available in various sizes. A properly sized air compressor is critical in order do effectively and efficiently blow air into the irrigation system, forcing any water out. The most common portable air compressor (representing about 80% of the portable air compressors in use today) is the 185 portable air compressor. This machine is rated at 185 cfm at 100 psi at full load.

This type of compressor can be found through a contractors’ equipment rental shop, and it’s more than adequate for most residential and commercial irrigation systems. Smaller 5 h.p. electric air compressors, even if they’re 100 psi, do not deliver enough volume of air to adequately winterize an irrigation system.

How-To: Compressed Air Winterization

When using a compressor to winterize your system, follow these steps:

  • Shut off the water to the system at the point of connection. The system shut-off valve may be either a ball valve or gate valve. It should be located in the basement or directly behind the water meter.
  • Next, open a zone valve to relieve the system pressure.
  • Attach the air hose from the air compressor to the blow-out point. The blow-out point is usually located directly behind the backflow device. The blow-out point may be a quick coupling valve, a hose bib, or a boiler drain.
A note of caution: The expanding air coming from the air compressor into the irrigation system will get hot and may melt the plastic pipe. Carefully check the temperature of the air hose connection at the blow-out point. Slow down or stop momentarily if it feels too hot! Cycling through each zone two or three times for short intervals will prevent too much heat buildup.

 

  • Set the pressure regulator on the air compressor at 50 to 80 psi.
  • On smaller residential systems, where the zones are typically about 10 gpm or less, open one electric remote control valve manually. Then cycle through all the other zones two to three minutes by manually opening each valve or by electrically operating each valve at the controller. Opening one valve manually will help to keep the air compressor from building up too much pressure, while assuring an adequate volume of air to thoroughly blow out all the water in the system. (On larger systems, it may not be necessary to open one valve manually.)
  • Allow the air to flow through each zone until water and water vapor no longer appears from any sprinklers in the zone. Start with the zone with the highest elevation in the system or farthest from the point of connection. Blow out each zone successively toward the point of connection. It’s a good idea to cycle through each zone two times, to ensure no water is remaining.

How-To: Automatic Drain System Winterization

Some systems are equipped with automatic drains that open when the system pressure falls below 10 psi. For these systems, it is usually only necessary to turn off the water.

  • Open a drain valve after the point of connection.
  • Winterize the backflow device and controller (See “Backflow Preventer Winterization” below.)

Some irrigation systems incorporate automatic drain valves on the laterals with manual drain valves on the main line. The manual drain valves will be located in small valve boxes at the end and at low points on the main line. Open the drain valves, and allow the water to drain out completely. Then close the drain valve.

How-To: Manual Drain System Winterization

If your system is equipped with manual drain valves:

  • Locate the drain valve for each zone and the main line. The manual drain is usually located in a small valve box at the end of the zone and at every low point. Also, the main line will have a manual drain at the end of the line and at every low point.
  • Open each drain valve, allowing all the water to drain out, and then close the manual drains.
  • Winterize the backflow device and controller (See “Backflow Preventer Winterization” below.)

How-To: Backflow Preventer Winterization

The backflow preventer is the plumbing device attached to the outside of your house. It is the source of water to the irrigation system, and it can can freeze and burst in only a few hours of below-freezing temperatures. So winterizing your backflow preventer is critical.

Here’s how: (Refer to the above diagram.)

  • Turn off the main shut-off valve to the system (1).
  • Using an adjustable wrench, remove the outlet drain plug or spigot (5) on the outside piping.
  • Turn valves (3 and 4) to a 45-degree angle (half-open/half-closed position).
  • Cover/wrap the backflow valve and all copper pipe with a large towel or blanket.
  • Place 2-3 gallon bucket underneath drain (2) and open the drain valve. Generally, 1-2 gallons of water will empty into the bucket. Once all the water has drained out of the pipe, close the drain valve.

How-To: Controller and Rain Sensor Winterization

To prepare the irrigation controller for winter, simply turn the controller to the off or “rain shutdown” position. (You can also disconnect the power and remove the battery, but this is not necessary.) Do not allow the controller to cycle through an irrigation schedule without water in the system. 

If your irrigation system is equipped with a rain sensor or a soil moisture sensor, it’s not usually necessary to cover or remove the sensor for the winter. Check with the manufacturer to make sure your rain sensor does not require any special instructions for winterization.

How-To: Pump Winterization

If you have a submersible pump (i.e., located in a lake, stream or pond), the check valve at the pump must be removed to keep the discharge hose from freezing. The best way is to simply remove the pump and discharge hose from the water each winter, and reinstall in the spring.

If you have a centrifugal pump, follow these steps:

  • Remove the drain valve (located at the base of the pump housing) and store it for the winter.
  • Disconnect the power supply, to prevent the pump from being accidentally turned on without any water. (A pump running without water will quickly burn up.)
  • If the pump is drawing water from a lake or stream, you must remove the intake hose or suction line completely from the water and store it for the winter.
  • If a check valve is located on the discharge side of the pump, it too must be removed and stored for the winter.

Leave It to the Pros

As you can see, preparing an irrigation system for winter can be a complicated process. A knowledgeable professional is essential to minimize damage caused by freezing. An improperly winterized irrigation system can be an expensive proposition next spring.

Internet-Based Smart Irrigation Systems

Internet-based smart irrigation system technology is rapidly expanding throughout the industry, particularly for residential usage.web-based

Internet-based smart irrigation system technology is even featured in Forbes magazine, “Tired Of Wasting Water With That Dumb Sprinkler? Meet The Smart Sprinkler Controller.” This irrigation system technology allows residential users to control and monitor their sprinkler systems from anywhere in the world using a web browser or iPhone/Android app. It also uses the homeowner’s wireless internet (wifi) to access a live stream from nearby weather stations.  As a result, residential users are provided with real-time weather data, without the need to install a personal weather station or rain sensor.

lawn1Using adaptive algorithms to generate custom and dynamic watering schedules from this weather data, the smart controller automatically determines the optimal watering schedule for the irrigation site. The system automatically adjusts watering cycles, duration and frequency for optimal results in any weather condition. Some smart controllers will even take into consideration local watering restrictions.

swat_logoWeb-based irrigation systems are certifiable through both the EPA’s WaterSense program and the Irrigation Association’s Smart Water Application Technologies (SWAT) testing.  For a comparison of WaterSense and SWAT testing protocols, click here.

Let’s take a look at some of the web-based irrigation systems currently available…


Skydrop

Skydrop’s WiFi-based smart controller entered the market in September of 2014. The company is based in Lehi, Utah, and promotes its product as helping residential users to abide by local watering restrictions. (“Don’t be a lawn bandit, and don’t risk hefty fines.”) According to Skydrop, the typical homeowner can install and set up its controller in less than 30 minutes.

Malibu-GardenIn addition to using real-time weather data, the Skydrop smart controller also measures soil moisture to determine how much water the landscape is losing.  Like most other internet-based systems, the Skydrop device is programmed by zone according to soil type, plant type, sprinkler type, slope and shape. The  Skydrop controller can also be integrated with other smart home systems such alarm controllers, solar heating/cooling, and outdoor lighting.

logo-90The controller includes a “cycle and soak” feature to eliminate or reduce runoff when landscapes are sloped. The company claims that watering each zone separately and only when required results in an average reduction in water usage of 35%. The Skydrop smart controller has qualified for the EPA’s WaterSense® Certification, yet the company does not plan to pursue SWAT testing at this time.

The Skydrop controller operates eight zones plus a master valve/pump, and is expandable to 16 zones with an expansion unit. The retail price for the Skydrop 8-zone controller is around $300, and the expansion unit retails for $50.


Hydrawise (Hunter Industries)

flowerHydrawise was recently purchased by Hunter Industries. The Hydrawise smart controller provides interactive online reporting and alerts that allow the user to view water usage for each watering cycle or the water flow rate at any time. Email alerts notify the user of water flows (e.g., due to a broken pipe or faulty valve) when no zone is currently running. Alerts can also be configured when the water usage for an irrigation zone changes by more than 10% (such as, from broken spray heads or faulty wiring).

Hydrawise2ColorTrim260Hydrawise is one of the products which does not require port forwarding on the user’s router in order to control the irrigation system from anywhere in the world. Rather, wireless functionality is provided inside the controller; the user enters a wireless password on the controller itself.

hydrawiseAccording to Chris Foster, Midwest Sales Manager for Hunter, the Hydrawise system utilizes Cloud technology, allowing the residential user and support technician to “meet in the cloud,” thereby preventing any potential security risks.  “Hydrawise is fourth-generation technology,” he said.

The Hydrawise controller is available in 6- or 12-zone models; expansion modules allow an individual system to be expanded up to 36 zones. The product is WaterSense certified and was the winner of  The Australian Backyard Innovation Challenge in 2015. Hydrawise has not been SWAT tested. Pricing is available through a Hunter distributor.

According to Michael White, Vice President of Turf & Landscape Sales for Automatic Irrigation Supply, one of the best features of the Hydrawise system is the professional support that is now available through Hunter Industries.


Cyber Rain

The Cyber Rain smart controller is manufactured by Israel-based Galcon, which is owned by Kibbutz Kfar Blum.  According to the company, Cyber Rain was the very first central irrigation product to earn the EPA WaterSense certification (in 2012). It also claims that the Cyber Rain controller can reduce water costs by up to 40% annually. Cyber Rain is SWAT approved.

LogoCyberRain1Cyber Rain supplies a small device called an “Access Point” that is plugged into a router so that the controller can access the internet using Cloud technology. The Access Point communicates with an unlimited number of Cyber Rain controllers through its own two-way wireless network. The standard radio can communicate up to 200 feet, while the longer-range radio can reach up to two miles with the optional antenna.

downloadCyber Rain offers a Smart Scheduling Wizard to set up the water-wise irrigation schedule customized to the particular landscape. For zones with dense soil or on a slope, for instance, the Cyber Rain smart controller offer a cycle and soak feature to avoid run-off.

Controllers are available in 8-, 16- and 24-zone models. (The optional antenna can be attached to increase range.) Prices for the residential systems range from $500 to $600.  Professional installation is not required for the residential systems, but appears to be recommended.


Rachio

Rachio introduced its first product (“Iro”) in 2014; Iro is an intelligent irrigation controller that is powered by Rachio’s cloud-based software.  It an be rachio-logo-for-web-300px (1)controlled either through a web-based dashboard or through an intuitive Android or iPhone app. During setup, the homeowner’s smartphone sends a signal to the Iro, connecting it to the internet through a WiFi network. It then communicates with Rachio’s cloud-based software. The company claims that installation and setup take less than 30 minutes with no special tools or expertise required.

The Iro will automatically check the local weather forecast and issue adjustments based on evapotranspiration and precipitation data to match soil moisture depletion. The Iro also learns from the customer’s adjustments over time. As a result, users can personalize the balance between water use and the level of plant health in each zone.

Irrigation-Flowers013Iro’s Smart Cycle will automatically schedule cycle and soak irrigation events to eliminate or reduce runoff when landscapes are sloped and/or the infiltration rate of the soil is less than that of the precipitation rate of the nozzle for the given zone. A virtual rain sensor will suspend irrigation events if rain is forecasted within the next 24 hours.

Iro controllers are available in 8-zone ($199) and 16-zone ($249) models. The Iro system has received the EPA’s WaterSense certification. Rachis is SWAT tested and has earned the prestigious EPA WaterSense label for irrigation efficiency.

Comparison of Residential Web-Based Smart Irrigation Controllers

 SkydropHydrawiseCyber RainRachio
SmartPhone CompatibleYesYesYesYes
Ipad/PC CompatibleYesYesNoYes
Android CompatibleYesYesYesYes
Uses Real-time Weather DataYesYesYesYes
Provides Online ReportingYesYesYesYes
Uses Cloud TechnologyYesYesYesYes
WaterSense CertifiedYesYesYesYes
SWAT TestedYesNoYesYes
Do-It-Yourself InstallationYesNo
YesYes
Professional SupportNoYesNoYes
Interfaces with Other Home SystemsYesYesNoYes
Includes Cycle and Soak FeatureYesYesYesYes
No. of Zones Available8, 166, 12*8, 168, 16
Price$299.99-$348.99 $260.00-$310.00$499.00-$599.00$199.00-$249.00

*May be expanded up to 36 zones.


The Future

Having recently attended a trade function focused on what water management will look like in the year 2065, Automatic Irrigation’s Michael White firmly believes that the web-based systems are crucial to allowing homeowners to be better stewards of water resources.  “Twenty-five years from now, water will cost much more than it does today,” he said. Consequently, “These new systems are good for the consumer and they’re good for the industry.”

(Editor’s note: Rachio’s data was corrected and updated from the original post based on additional information provided by the manufacturer.)


Sources:

U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Reclamation, “Weather- and Soil Moisture-Based Landscape Irrigation Scheduling Devices”

WaterSense® Program Accomplishments

U.S. EPA WaterSense® Program Accomplishments

Since the program’s inception in 2006, WaterSense has grown dramatically. Here are some of their most significant accomplishments:

  • The program has more than 1,613 organizational partners.
  • The program has helped consumers save a cumulative1 trillion gallons of water, resulting in saving over $21.7 billion in water and energy bills.
  • Through the use of labeled products, by the end of 2014 reductions of 146 billion kWh of electricity and 54 million metric tons of carbon dioxide were achieved.
  • The  labeled products program has proven to be overwhelmingly successful. Originally there were twenty-two labeled products. Today, the label is found on more than 1,600 models of showerheads, 1,900 models of tank-type toilets, 6,800 models of faucet or faucet accessory models, and 150 models of weather–based irrigation controllers.

Water Savings

  • Labeled products that are 20 percent more water-efficient and perform as well as or better than standard models.
  • Labeled faucets—or aerators that can be installed on existing bathroom faucets—are about 30 percent more efficient than standard faucets while still providing sufficient flow.
  • Labeled toilets use 20 percent less water per flush but perform as well as or better than today’s standard toilets and older toilets that use much more water.

Key Milestones

  • The launch of the Single-Family New Home Specification, and the first labeled homes entered the market in December of 2009. As of the end of 2014, the total number of  labeled homes across the country is at 449.
  • Celebrated their eight annual Partner of the Year awards in October 2015.
Lisa Jackson

Lisa Jackson

“The WaterSense® program is a great way of empowering consumers to make a difference for our environment. WaterSense continues to raise awareness about the value of smart water use and, by growing our green economy, is moving the marketplace to preserve one of our most precious resources.”

– Lisa P. Jackson, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator

2014 WaterSense Accomplishments

 

 


Program Accomplishment Sources:

http://www3.epa.gov/watersense/about_us/milestones.html

http://www3.epa.gov/watersense/about_us/facts.html

Irrigation Controller Tips to Reduce Customer Call Backs

With A Few Simple Steps for Irrigation Controller Programming You Can Reduce Your Customer Calls

 

‘I Just Want a Green Lawn’

Lawn Irrigation Spray HeadMost homeowners with an automatic lawn sprinkler system simply exclaim, “I just want a green lawn.” However, operating and maintaining a home irrigation system can be a challenge. Today’s solid state programmable irrigation controllers easily exceed most of our customers’ willingness to program them.

A far too familiar story when a client calls with a request for irrigation controller help, typically goes as follows:

I wanted to water my lawn more because it was turning brown. I went into my irrigation timer and set station one to run for thirty minutes starting at midnight on start time number one. I then went to station two and set that station to run for thirty minutes starting at 12:30 am on start time number two. I did this up through station number eight but when I get to station number nine I cannot find start time for number nine. What gives here? I thought this was a ‘smart’ timer and what is all this A, B, C, D program stuff?

It is easy to understand client frustrations with the wide range of options available on today’s solid state irrigation controllers. There is an over whelming number of choices. The simplest controllers come with a thirty-six page manual and a rapid start guide. The manuals of the more complex controllers have over one hundred pages.

Hunter Residential Irrigation Timer Rain Bird Residential Irrigation Timer It is easy to forget, most homeowner simply want a green lawn. They had an irrigation system installed to save them time. Their comfort level with automatic control systems starts and stops with the thermostat in their home heating and air conditioning system. It is not that they can not learn how to program a controller, it is that they do not want to learn how to program a controller.

Remember, most homeowners simply want a green lawn. They had an irrigation system installed to save them time and money. Their comfort level with automatic control systems starts and stops with the thermostat in their home heating and air conditioning system. It is not that they can not learn how to program a controller, it is that they do not want to learn how to program a controller.

Back to Basics

Toro Residential Irrigation TimerGoing back to basics is often the easiest way. Forget about complex programming, forget about water budgets, forget about programs A, B, C,and D. We simply want a green lawn. There are four basic elements present in all irrigation controller programs:

1. Rain Bird Residential Irrigation TimerToday’s date and time

2. A start time

3. A run time

4. Days of the week to water

Seven Steps to Setting Any Automatic Irrigation Controller

Step 1 – Set the current date.

Step 2 – Set the current time of day.

Step 3 – Select the program A, B, C or D.

(Select Program ‘A’ unless you have a more complex watering program. Program ‘D’ is usually reserved for drip zones.)

Step 4 – Set the cycle start time.

(An irrigation cycle is a complete sequencing of each station that has time set to run. Each program being used must have a cycle start time set.)

Step 5 – Set the run time for each station.

(Every station must have a run time set in order to water. Typically stations with spray heads are set to run ten minutes. Stations with rotors are set to thirty minutes. Setting a station’s run time to zero will stop any watering from occurring.)

Step 6 – Set the Days of the Week to Water

(Typically an irrigation system will run three times a week but you may live in an area that has watering restrictions, i.e. odd/even water days or you may live in an area with sandy soil that may require more frequent watering.)

Step 7 – Set the irrigation controller to Auto Run.

It really is that simple. If it rains, and the system is not equipped with a rain shut off device, turn the controller off for a couple of days.

Irritrol Residential Irrigation Timer

Keep It Simple

Technology does not save water; people save water. Technology does not want a green lawn; people want a green lawn. Keeping your controller programming simple and straight forward will save you time, money, and headaches.

For Additional Information

Here are links to the major irrigation controller manufacturers’ websites:

Rain Bird Residential Irrigation Timer

Hunter

Irritrol

Rain Bird

Toro

Weathermatic

Water Rates Go Up Three Times Faster than the Consumer Price Index

The Price of Water

Wasting Dollars Water ImageWater rates continue to rise faster than the rate of inflation. Most major U.S. cities have experienced a 25% water rate increase over the last three years. At this rate of growth, landscape and irrigation contractors throughout the U.S. will no doubt incorporate this reality in their water conservation plans on all future projects.

Click Here for the full report base on the Circle of Blue‘s annual survey of water rates for single-family residential customers.

In 2013, the increase in the water rates for residential customers averaged 6.7%.

In 2013, the increase in water rates for residential customers averaged 6.7%. This is three times higher than the Consumer Price Index of 2.1% for 2012. Surprisingly, the residential cost of water for a family of four is lower in states within arid regions than in more temperate regions of the country. In comparison: a typical family of four in Phoenix, Arizona pays about $35 per month; whereas, in Boston, Massachusetts a typical family of four pays about $65 per month for the same amount of water.

Not surprisingly, average residential water use is significantly higher in areas of low rainfall. Fresno, California, with an average water use of 200 gallons of water per person per day, has the highest per capita water use in the nation. Conversely, Boston, Massachusetts, with an average water use of less than 50 gallons of water per person per day, has the lowest per capita water use of any major city in the United States.

Water Rates & Water Conservation

Water conservation continues to be a major focus in cities where water infrastructure is at capacity. However cities with excess capacity, such as Milwaukee, Wisconsin, are encouraging water consumption. Over the last three decades Milwaukee water use has dropped over 40%. The declining use of water in Milwaukee is because of the disappearance of breweries and tanneries, both water intensive businesses, who went out of business or relocated out of the area.

Water conservation is working. Per capita water use is decreasing. Water demand throughout the United States is falling or remaining steady despite increases in population. Water use in the United States peaked around 1980. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) reported, “after 1980 water use started to decrease a bit, possibly due to the Nation making more use of water-conservation measures.”

Ohio Domestic Water Use Increases 25%

Midwest Water Rates

2010 – 2013 Water Rates Midwest Cities – Circle of Blue

In 2005, domestic water consumption in Ohio averaged 69 gallons per person per day. The average consumption rate ten years prior was 54 gallons per person per day. This represents a 25% increase in domestic water consumption within a ten-year period.

Water rates are also on the rise for many communities. Across the country water rates increased nearly 7% in thirty major U.S. cities. Columbus, Ohio water rates have increased 4% in 2013. In Chicago, water rates have increased 15%. Whereas other Midwestern cities, such as Indianapolis and Milwaukee, reported no increase in their water rates.

Water Conservation Strategies

There is more work to do in conserving outdoor water use. Newer technologies like rain sensors and ET-based controllers help; however, simpler methods are available.

Professionalism – Join your national and local irrigation association. Get certified, become an EPA WaterSense Partner and promote professionalism.

Rain Sensors – Install a rain sensor on every irrigation system.

Drip Irrigation – Use low-volume micro-irrigation or drip in shrub areas and flowerbeds.

Monthly Water Budget Adjustments – Adjust the water budget monthly during the season.

Irrigate Only When Necessary – Encourage homeowners and property managers to irrigate only when necessary.

Weather – Watch the weather forecast for upcoming rain events and turn off the irrigation controller.

Correct Sprinkler Head Spacing – Insist on head-to-head coverage fro sprinkler spacing on every job.

Nozzle correctly – Match sprinkler head precipitation rates by installing the appropriate nozzle.

EPA WaterSense Milestone Graphic

Since the program’s inception in 2006, WaterSense has helped consumers save a cumulative 487 billion gallons of water and $8.9 billion in water and energy bills.

 

July is Smart Irrigation Month – Are You Ready?

Are you Ready for Smart Irrigation Month?

What is Smart Irrigation Month?

Irrigation Association's Smart Irrigation Month Color LogoMost homeowners overwater their yard, unintentionally wasting money every time they take out the hose or turn on the sprinklers. To raise awareness of the benefits of efficient watering practices, the Irrigation Association has named July Smart Irrigation Month.

First launched in 2005, Smart Irrigation Month is gaining traction as stakeholders recognize the positive impact efficient irrigation and water use provides.

Focused on July, this campaign provides a unified marketing platform and is designed to:

  • Educate businesses, homeowners, growers/producers and other users about efficient water use.
  • Encourage industry firms and professionals to promote smart irrigation practices and technologies.
  • Position your organization as a leader in smart water stewardship.

How Can You Participate?

Lawn Irrigation Spray HeadWhether your business is big or small or focused on agriculture, turf/landscape or golf applications, there are many ways to participate in the Smart Irrigation Month campaign.

Smart Irrigation Month is an industry campaign to increase public awareness of the value of water-use efficiency. Join other irrigation companies and professionals to:

  • Educate customers about efficient water-use.
  • Grow demand for water-saving technologies, products and services.
  • Provide real solutions to today’s water challenges.
  • Position your company as a leader in smart water-efficient practices.

Getting involved is as simple as adding the Smart Irrigation Month logo to your web site, ads or newsletter, or highlighting water-saving products during July.

 

How Can You Benefit from Smart Irrigation Month?

Wasting Dollars Water Image

Creating an efficient irrigation system requires specialized knowledge and understanding of irrigation design principles and local environmental conditions — something most weekend gardeners don’t have. Complying with local installation codes is another consideration.

Hiring a certified or licensed irrigation professional and insisting on high-quality components is the smart way to make sure your system will operate at peak efficiency for years to come. Always get multiple bids, check references and confirm your preferred vendor is properly insured.

Here are some Tips from the Ohio Irrigation Association

The Smart Marketing Contest honors the best Smart Irrigation Month marketing ideas and campaigns.

Large or small, agriculture or landscape, water provider or affiliate – all organizations will be recognized for their help in promoting this initiative. Celebrate the month, share the benefits of smart irrigation and position your company as a leader in water conservation.

Plan your campaign before July arrives, and prepare your contest submission for the Aug. 30 deadline.

Contest Details

Winner with TrophyWinners will be selected from a range of categories representing the diversity of the irrigation industry. Businesses large and small are encouraged to enter. Submissions are judged by a neutral panel based on messaging, quality, creativity and implementation of Smart Irrigation Month messaging.

All contest participants will be recognized:

  • On the IA and Smart Irrigation Month web sites.
  • In the Irrigation Show Guide, distributed on-site to all attendees and exhibitors.

Winners will be:

  • Recognized at the General Session of the Irrigation Show.
  • Showcased at the Smart Irrigation Month Idea Gallery and briefing at the show.
  • Highlighted on the IA and Smart Irrigation Month web sites.
  • Featured in an article in IA Times, IA’s monthly e-newsletter.
  • Profiled in free publicity to industry media.

Submission Requirements


Contest submissions are due Aug. 30. The contest is free to IA members and open to nonmembers for a $250 fee credited toward their membership application. The entry must include reference to the Smart Irrigation Month campaign or logo. Your submission should include:

  • Samples of all campaign materials (electronic samples preferred).

Submit all samples to smartcontest@irrigation.org or:

Smart Marketing Contest
Irrigation Association
6540 Arlington Blvd.
Falls Church, VA 22042-6638

Click here for smart ideas, logos and other free resources.

Smart Irrigation Month is an initiative of the Irrigation Association, a non-profit industry organization dedicated to promoting efficient irrigation. Learn more at www.smartirrigationmonth.org.

Specifications for Soil Moisture Sensors Being Developed by EPA WaterSense

Soil Moisture Sensors – The Most Effective Way to Irrigate

Rain Bird Soil Moisture SensorSoil moisture–based control technologies water plants based on their needs by measuring the amount of moisture in the soil and tailoring irrigation schedules accordingly. Studies suggest that soil moisture sensors can result in water savings of at least 20 percent, potentially saving millions of gallons of water across the country. Soil moisture–based control technologies that earn the WaterSense label will take the guesswork out of watering and help improve irrigation system efficiency.

As an alternative to convention irrigation controllers, soil moisture-based control technologies make irrigation schedule adjustments by automatically tailoring the amount and frequency and timing of irrigation events based on the moisture content of the soil in the landscape.

WaterSense has issued its Notice of Intent to develop a specification for soil moisture–based control technologies. If you are interested in participating in developing the specification for  soil moisture-based control technology Click Here to send your comments to the EPA WaterSense Program.

Approved Weather-based Irrigation Controller Specification

Watermark Soil Moisture Control SystemSoil moisture-based control is designed to work in conjunction with the WaterSense Weather-based Irrigation Controller Specification. Replacing a standard irrigation controller with a WaterSense labeled irrigation controller can save an average home nearly 8,800 gallons of water annually. If every home in the United States with an automatic sprinkler system installed and properly operated a WaterSense labeled controller, we could save $435 million in water costs and 120 billion gallons of water across the country annually from not overwatering lawns and landscapes. That’s equal to the annual household water needs of nearly 1.3 million average American homes.

Earning the WaterSense Label

To earn the WaterSense label, landscape irrigation controllers must be able to adequately meet the watering needs of a landscape without overwatering. As with all other WaterSense labeled products, WaterSense labeled controllers will be independently certified to ensure that they meet the WaterSense criteria for efficiency and performance.

About the EPA WaterSense Program

EPA Watersense Product LogoWaterSense, a partnership program by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, seeks to protect the future of our nation’s water supply by offering people a simple way to use less water with water-efficient products, new homes, and services.

WaterSense brings together a variety of stakeholders to:

  •  Promote the value of water efficiency.
  • Provide consumers with easy ways to save water, as both a label for products and an information resource to help people use water more efficiently.
  • Encourage innovation in manufacturing.
  • Decrease water use and reduce strain on water resources and infrastructure.

The program seeks to help consumers make smart water choices that save money and maintain high environmental standards without compromising performance. Products and services that have earned the WaterSense label have been certified to be at least 20 percent more efficient without sacrificing performance.

Upgrading to more efficient WaterSense labeled products can help us to save billions of gallons of water in the country every year. Something as simple as twisting on a WaterSense labeled aerator and upgrading to a WaterSense labeled faucet could save a household 11,000 gallons over the life of the faucet. Learn more about how you can save water and help WaterSense preserve and protect our nation’s water resources.

 

What is an Irrigation Audit?

by Tom Barrett

Saving Water in the Landscape is Precisely What an Irrigation Audit is All About

 Water Conservation

An irrigation audit is a process that develops the maximum efficiency possible from an installed iLawn Sprinklerrrigation system.  Simply, an irrigation audit saves water.  How much water can be saved with irrigation system audit?  In many cases, after an audit, a landscape will use forty to sixty per cent less water than before the irrigation audit was completed.  Can you image saving over fifty percent of the water used in a landscape? This is a lot of water to save.

Saving water in the landscape is precisely what an irrigation audit is all about. Besides conserving water, an irrigation audit reduces fertilizer usage and water runoff. The net result is a better looking landscape. There are fewer wet or dry spots. The landscape thrives when properly irrigated.

It takes a trained professional, knowledgeable in irrigation and the audit process, to develop an effective irrigation audit. There are three steps in developing an irrigation system audit.  Step one is testing the system to be certain all the irrigation system components function properly.  Often, significant water savings are achieved by simply fixing and adjusting the existing irrigation system. The second step is to field test each zone of the irrigation system. Each irrigation zone is operated. The precipitation rate and efficiency of each irrigation zone is collected under actual operational conditions.  The final step in an irrigation audit is to calculate irrigation schedules that are based on plant type, soil conditions, weather patterns, and field test results.

Step One – Test the System

Irrigation Audit Catch Can

The first step in the irrigation system audit is to test the system. During this process the irrigation auditor will make sure all the components of the irrigation system function properly.  A site inspection worksheet is used to record the data. The following components are inspected and tested:

  1. Static Pressure – Test the static pressure of the irrigation system.
  2. Backflow Test – Pressure test the backflow preventer. On commercial buildings the backflow preventer is usually a reduced pressure principle backflow device.  On small commercial and many residential systems the backflow preventer maybe an atmospheric backflow preventer or an atmospheric backflow preventer.  It is important that a trained, professional test the backflow preventer for proper operation.
  3. Zone Test – Operate each station or control zone on the controller.  Visually inspect every sprinkler head to determine if the arc is properly adjusted and the proper nozzle is installed.  Additionally, inspect the sprinkler heads for clogging, leaking seals, missing sprinkler heads, tilted sprinkler heads. Finally inspect the sprinkler to insure that the landscape has not overgrown and is deflecting the spray pattern.  Also, look for sunken sprinkler heads.
  4. Controller Test – Record all current controller or timer settings.  The manufacturer, model, and location of the controller are noted on the site inspection worksheet. The current irrigation schedule is recorded.  The current irrigation watering schedule will be used to determine the amount of water savings achieved after the audit is completed.

Step Two – Irrigation System Field TestIrrigation Audit Image

The purpose of the irrigation system field test is to determine the precipitation rate and efficiency of each sprinkler system zone. During the field test, catch cans are systematically placed, in a grid pattern, throughout the landscape.

Catch cans are specialized water collection devices.  Each station or zone is operated for a specified time.  Usually each station or zone is tested separately. The water collected in the catch cans are measured and recorded.

The precipitation rate of each zone is calculated by measuring the average amount of water collected in each catch can.  The efficiency of the zone is calculated by measuring the variance of the water collected in each catch can.  The smaller the variance between catch can results the more efficient the irrigation system is.  Ideally, a properly installed irrigation system is between 65% to 75% efficient.

Last year we announced a  the release of the first electronic, hand-held catch can reader for irrigation audits. Click Here for more information

Step Three – Creating an Irrigation Schedule

Calculating the irrigation schedule, based upon the actual field information, is where sustainable water savings occur. In calculating the base irrigation schedule the following factors are used to create the most efficient irrigation schedule possible:

Evapotranspiration

Evapotranspiration is the amount of water used by a landscape.  Evapotranspiration is the water loss in the landscape due to evaporation and the water used by plants in transpiration. Evapotranspiration varies by geographic location, seasonal weather patterns, plant material, local site conditions, and soil type.

Soil

The type of soil effects the amount of water that can be stored in the soil.  Sandy soils will hold less water than clay soils.  The infiltration or percolation rate will vary by soil type.  The infiltration or percolation rate is how fast a soil type can absorb water.  This will vary based upon soil texture, structure, degree of compaction, and slope.

Plant Materials

Different plants have different water use requirements and different rooting depths.  The size, age, and location of the plants all effect water usage.  Location, exposure, and the active root zone depth all effect plant water usage and must be considered when creating the base irrigation schedules.

Sprinklers

The information developed in the Irrigation System Field Test is used to determine how long each zone needs to operate to apply the correct amount of water.  The more efficient the irrigation zone the less time the zone needs to apply water.  Lower precipitation rates will result in longer run times and potentially less water runoff.

Baseline ScheduleGolf Course Catch Can Test

A baseline irrigation schedule is then developed for each irrigation zone. The landscape water requirement is adjusted based upon the efficiency of the irrigation system as determined by the field test information.   The soil type is used to determine how much water to apply.  Additionally, since most sprinkler systems can apply water faster than the soil can absorb water, a maximum run time is developed for each irrigation zone.  This prevents water from running off the landscape.  The soil and root depth determine how long to run a zone. The amount of time between irrigation cycles is also determined by the soil type and rooting depth.  Allowing the water to soak into the soil to the proper root zone depth without saturating the soil for long periods of time is an important feature of an irrigation audit.  Most irrigation systems will never reach this level of efficiency without an irrigation audit.

The objective of a great irrigation schedule is to apply the correct amount of water necessary for the optimal growth of the plants in the landscape.  When properly developed, this prevents over and under watering the landscape.  When the irrigation schedule is not properly developed, shallow rooting occurs with short frequent irrigation cycles or run off occurs when water is applied faster than the soil can absorb the water.

Finally, after the base schedule is developed, the irrigation zone run times are adjusted for seasonality.  Additional adjustments are made throughout the season based on visual inspection to compensate for local factors.

Irrigation audits are an essential part of any water conservation program.  An irrigation audit is a very sophisticated process used to create an optimized irrigation schedule.  Most irrigation systems apply more water than needed to maintain a healthy landscape.  The savings in water is worth the time and expense of an irrigation audit.

Irrigation Association Landscape Irrigation Auditor Seal

The Irrigation Association

An irrigation system audit is a complex process and requires the services of a trained expert.  The Irrigation Association’s internationally recognized Certified Landscape Irrigation Auditor (CLIA) program and examination is widely acknowledged as the industry standard.  To learn more about the Irrigation Association, the Certified Landscape Irrigation Auditor program, and the other irrigation industry certifications contact them at:

Irrigation Association

6540 Arlington Boulevard

Falls Church, Virginia 22042-6638  USA

(703) 536-7080
(703) 536-7019 fax

Click here to email

 

Author’s Biography

Tom Barrett PortraitTom Barrett is an accomplished corporate growth and change agent with over thirty years of industry experience.  Tom is the owner of Green Water Infrastructure. Green Water Infrastructure is a consulting company that integrates water resources for sustainable site development. Tom’s leadership experience, holding executive level positions, drives corporate revenue growth through change and innovation for business start-up’s, corporate expansions, and divisional turnarounds.  Tom has been delivering dynamic presentations and training for over twenty years.  These presentations empower people to become masters of change rather than victims of circumstance by developing tools for transformative thinking.

Tom can be reached at Green Water Infrastructure, Inc., 317-565-9964 or Click Here to Email

Fix A Leak Week – March 18-24, 2013

Fix a Leak Week 2013Fix A Leak

Because

Every Drop Counts

March 18-24, 2013

Did you know that the average American family can waste, on average, more than 11,000 gallons of water every year due to running toilets, dripping faucets, and other household leaks?

Nationwide, more than 1 trillion gallons of water leak from U.S. homes each year. That’s why WaterSense reminds Americans to check their plumbing fixtures and irrigation systems each year during Fix a Leak Week.

WaterSense is teaming up with our partners to promote the fifth annual Fix a Leak Week, March 18-24, 2013.

From New Mexico’s search for bad flappers to leak detection efforts in Texas, West Virginia and across the nation, explore our list of some of the Fix a Leak Week 2012 events. For all the latest on Fix a Leak Week events happening across the country, be sure to follow us on Facebook Exit EPA Disclaimer and Twitter

 

Checking for Leaks

To check for leaks in your home, first you need to determine whether you’re wasting water, then identify the source of the leak.

  • Take a look at your water usage during a colder month, such as January or February. If a family of four exceeds 12,000 gallons per month, there are serious leaks.
  • Check your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter changes at all, you probably have a leak.
  • Identify toilet leaks by placing a drop of food coloring in the toilet tank. If any color shows up in the bowl after 15 minutes, you have a leak. (Be sure to flush immediately after the experiment to avoid staining the tank.)
  • Examine faucet gaskets and pipe fittings for any water on the outside of the pipe to check for surface leaks.
  • The Regional Water Providers Consortium has a video on detecting household leaksExit EPA Disclaimerthat you may find helpful.

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Fix a Leak: Toilets

A common reason why toilets will leak is an old or worn out toilet flapper (sometimes called a “valve seal”). Flappers are inexpensive rubber parts that can build up minerals or decay over time. Replacing them can be a quick and easy fix for your water woes. To fix this leak, consult your local hardware store, home improvement retailer, or licensed plumber. Here are some online resources from WaterSense partners:

Tip: Bring the old flapper to the hardware store for comparison to make sure you buy a new flapper that fits your toilet model. You can also check the owner’s manual, if you have it, or the manufacturer’s Web site for the appropriate replacement part number for the flapper.

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Fix a Leak: Faucets

Old and worn faucet washers and gaskets frequently cause leaks in faucets. Many tutorials are available online for how to fix a wide variety of faucets. Here are a couple of examples:

Tip: Don’t forget to turn off the water line before you start!

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Fix a Leak: Showerheads

Some leaky showerheads can be fixed by making sure there is a tight connection between the showerhead and the pipe stem and by using pipe tape to secure it. Pipe tape, also called Teflon tape, is available at most hardware stores, is easy to apply, and can help tame unruly leaks. For more complicated valve leaks in showers that drip when not in use, contact an experienced handyperson or licensed plumber.

Tip: It’s also a good idea to check and, if needed, replace the washer or “o” ring inside the showerhead while making this repair.

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Fix a Leak: Outdoors

If you have an in-ground irrigation system, check it each spring before use to make sure it wasn’t damaged by frost or freezing. Or hire a WaterSense irrigation partner to inspect it for you. These professionals have passed a certification program focused on water efficiency. They will not only help you detect and correct leaks in the system, but also maximize its efficiency.

Finally, check your garden hose for leaks at its connection to the spigot. If it leaks while you run your hose, replace the nylon or rubber hose washer and ensure a tight connection to the spigot using pipe tape and a wrench.

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Leaks Still Flowing Overboard?

Have you done all that you can to try to eliminate leaks from your home but still can’t nip that drip in the bud?

If you’ve already determined you have leaks and you find these step-by-step solutions aren’t enough to stop them, it might be time to replace your leaking fixtures. If you consult with a plumbing professional, and look for the WaterSense label if you are considering a new toilet or faucet, you could increase your home’s water efficiency.

See a complete list of WaterSense labeled products.

The Facts on Leaks:

  • Leaks can account for, on average, 10,000 gallons of water wasted in the home every year, which is enough to fill a backyard swimming pool.
  • The amount of water leaked from U.S. homes could exceed more than 1 trillion gallons per year. That’s equivalent to the annual water use of Los Angeles, Chicago, and Miami combined.
  • Ten percent of homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons or more per day.
  • Common types of leaks found in the home include leaking toilet flappers, dripping faucets, and other leaking valves. All are easily correctable.
  • Fixing easily corrected household water leaks can save homeowners more than 10 percent on their water bills.
  • Keep your home leak-free by repairing dripping faucets, toilet valves, and showerheads. In most cases, fixture replacement parts don’t require a major investment and can be installed by do-it-yourselfers.
  • The vast majority of leaks can be eliminated after retrofitting a household with new WaterSense labeled fixtures and other high-efficiency appliances.

Leak Detection:

  • A good method to check for leaks is to examine your winter water usage. It’s likely that a family of four has a serious leak problem if its winter water use exceeds 12,000 gallons per month.
  • Check your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter does not read exactly the same, you probably have a leak.
  • One way to find out if you have a toilet leak is to place a drop of food coloring in the toilet tank. If the color shows up in the bowl within 15 minutes without flushing, you have a leak. Make sure to flush immediately after this experiment to avoid staining the tank.

Faucets and Showerheads:

  • A leaky faucet that drips at the rate of one drip per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons per year. A home with WaterSense labeled toilets could use that water to flush for six months!
  • Leaky faucets can be reduced by checking faucet washers and gaskets for wear and replacing them if necessary. If you are replacing a faucet, look for the WaterSense label.
  • A showerhead leaking at 10 drips per minute wastes more than 500 gallons per year. That’s enough water to wash 60 loads of dishes in your dishwasher.
  • Most leaky showerheads can be fixed by ensuring a tight connection using pipe tape and a wrench.

Toilets:

  • If your toilet is running constantly, you could be wasting 200 gallons of water or more every day.
  • If your toilet is leaking, the cause is most often an old, faulty toilet flapper. Over time, this inexpensive rubber part decays, or minerals build up on it. It’s usually best to replace the whole rubber flapper—a relatively easy, inexpensive do-it-yourself project that pays for itself in no time.
  • If you do need to replace the entire toilet, look for a WaterSense labeled model. If a family of four replaces its older, inefficient toilets with new WaterSense labeled ones, it could save more than 16,000 gallons per year. Retrofitting the house could save the family approximately $2,000 in water and wastewater bills over the lifetime of the toilets.

Outdoors:

  • An irrigation system should be checked each spring before use to make sure it was not damaged by frost or freezing.
  • An irrigation system with pressure set at 60 pounds per square inch that has a leak 1/32nd of an inch in diameter (about the thickness of a dime) can waste about 6,300 gallons of water per month.
  • To ensure that your in-ground irrigation system is not leaking water, consult with a WaterSense irrigation partner who has passed a certification program focused on water efficiency; look for a WaterSense irrigation partner.
  • Check your garden hose for leaks at its connection to the spigot. If it leaks while you run your hose, replace the nylon or rubber hose washer and ensure a tight connection to the spigot using pipe tape and a wrench.

 

July is Smart Irrigation Month

Water Drop ImageDon’t Send Money Down the Drain

By The Irrigation Association

July is Smart Irrigation Month – here are tips for homeowners to help conserve water during the highest water use month, July

Water Smart & Save Money This Summer

Most homeowners overwater their yard, unintentionally wasting money every time they take out the hose or turn on the sprinklers. To raise awareness of the benefits of efficient watering practices, the Irrigation Association has named July Smart Irrigation Month.

Using an automated irrigation system is one of the best ways to keep your lawn and landscape beautiful and healthy, while minimizing water waste. Make time this summer to be sure you’re getting the most out of your irrigation system, while keeping utility bills low and helping to protect the environment.

Smart Start

Creating an efficient irrigation system requires specialized knowledge and understanding of irrigation design principles and local environmental conditions — something most weekend gardeners don’t have. Complying with local installation codes is another consideration.

Even the best irrigation design won’t perform well if installed incorrectly or using inferior components. Something as simple as selecting the correct type of pipe can mean the difference between a system that lasts and one that requires ongoing repairs.

Hiring a certified or licensed irrigation professional and insisting on high-quality components is the smart way to make sure your system will operate at peak efficiency for years to come. Always get multiple bids, check references and confirm your preferred vendor is properly insured.

Smart Planning & Planting

Guarantee long-term satisfaction with your irrigation system with up-front planning.

  • Work with a certified irrigation designer or contractor who has experience in your local area.
  • Consider local climate conditions, as well as your lot’s exact features. Choose appropriate turf and plant species that have low water requirements.
  • Group plants with similar water needs close together and separate lawn areas from planting beds.
  • Plan your irrigation zones carefully. Be sure that your system will have enough capacity, now and in the future. The more irrigation zones you plan, the more you can tailor watering even if you modify landscaping.
  • Consult with your local water provider to see if rebates are available for water-efficient products.
  • Check the on-site water pressure and select appropriate sprinklers. Low or high water pressure can seriously affect sprinkler performance.
  • Include “smart” controls that automatically adjust watering based on rain, soil moisture, evaporation and plant water use.
  • Use quality components to minimize future maintenance needs and total lifetime cost of your system.

Smart Installation

Use components that provide the greatest flexibility. Different plants have different watering needs, and these needs may change over time. Your system should allow you to apply the right amount of water for each type of plant by the most effective method.

  • Always install excess irrigation zone capacity. Irrigation zones are areas that are watered by the same irrigation valve and plumbing. Installing extra connections now makes it easier and less expensive to expand your irrigation system later.
  • Include the right backflow prevention device as required by the plumbing codes for all irrigation systems. Backflow prevention devices prevent irrigation system water from contaminating the water supply.
  • Install lines deep enough to protect them from damage from aeration and other lawn maintenance.

Smart Scheduling & Watering

Today’s irrigation controllers allow you to easily adjust your system’s watering schedule to fit different watering needs.

  • Schedule each individual zone in your irrigation system to account for sun, shade and wind exposure.
  • Consider soil type, which affects the how quickly water can be applied and absorbed without runoff.
  • Make sure you’re not sending water down the drain. Set sprinklers to water plants, not your driveway, sidewalk, patio or buildings.
  • Water at the right time of day. Watering when the sun is low, winds are calm and temperatures are cooler minimizes evaporation by as much as 30 percent. The best time to water is during early morning hours.
  • Thoroughly soak the root zone (generally within the top six inches of soil for lawns), then let the soil dry. Watering too frequently results in shallow roots and encourages weed growth, disease and fungus.
  • Reduce runoff by watering each zone more often for shorter periods. For example, setting your system to run for three, 5-minute intervals with some soak time lets water infiltrate the soil better than watering for 15 minutes at one time.
  • Adjust your watering schedule regularly to account for seasonal weather conditions, plant size and other factors. Monthly (or even weekly) adjustments keep plants healthy without overwatering.

Wasting Dollars  Water ImageSmart Maintenance & Upgrades

Irrigation systems need regular maintenance to keep them working efficiently year after year. Damage from lawn equipment or improper winterization can cause leaks and other serious problems.

  • Inspect the system for leaks, broken or clogged sprinkler heads or other damaged components.
  • Check that sprinkler heads are high enough to clear plants that may have grown taller since the system was installed.
  • Adjust spray patterns and positions to make sure they aren’t watering “hardscapes” like sidewalks and buildings.
  • Evaluate pressure and adjust as needed so sprinklers work optimally to distribute the water.
  • Retrofit the system with a rain or soil moisture sensor to prevent overwatering. Rain sensors stop the system from operating when it rains; soil moisture sensors use long metal probes to measure moisture at the root zone and turn off the system when no additional water is needed. Weather-based controllers automatically adjust the irrigation schedule as weather conditions change.
  • Before upgrading your system, check to see if your local water provider offers rebates on any products you are considering.

 

Smart Irrigation Month is an initiative of the Irrigation Association, a non-profit industry organization dedicated to promoting efficient irrigation. Learn more at www.smartirrigationmonth.org.

 

To find an IA-certified professional to design, install, maintain or audit your irrigation system, visit www.irrigation.org/hirecertified.

 

Welcome Sean Mullarkey, Owner of Tri State Water Works

The Ohio Irrigation Association welcomes Sean Mullarkey, owner of Tri State Water Works, as our newest member. Tri Sate Water Works is located in Cincinnati and is servicing landscape irrigation & lighting systems in the Greater Cincinnati area and Northern Kentucky.

Although new to our association, Sean is no neophyte to the landscape and irrigation industry. In fact, Sean has spent almost twenty-five years in our industry. Sean holds four prestigious certifications from the Irrigation Association:

— Certified Irrgation Designer

— Certified Irrigation Contractor

— Certified Landscape Irrigation Auditor

— Certified Golf Course Irrigation Auditior

Tri State Water Works was started by Sean because there is a big need for quality irrigation services with a water conservation approach. Getting a landscape irrigation system functioning properly creating the greatest water savings possible is the mission of Tri State Water Works.

Sean Mullarkey Image

Sean Mullarkey, President of Tri State Water Works, Cincinnati, Ohio

“Replacing older, inefficient spray landscape irrigation systems with high efficiency drip irrigation can save, literally, thousands of gallons of water that is otherwise wasted,” says Mullarkey. ” Newer technology like weather-based control systems can increase those water savings further. Additionally, alternate water sources, like rain water harvesting, can completely eliminate the use of potable water for landscape irrigation.”

Landscape irrigation is serious business for Sean Mullarkey and Tri State Water Works. The company is offering the following services:

  • Irrigation System Design
  • Specifiations Advocation
  • Irrigation System Inspection Services
Sean has been working on landscape irrigation systems since 1988 when he was the owner of Shamrock Landscapes. Shamrock was sold to Natorps where Sean worked as a landscape designer. Sean earned a certification in landscape horticulture from Ohio State University.

 

Our Mission Statement:

  • Water is a precious resource that should be conserved for current and future generations; water is the source of life, we will respect it as such.
  • We will give back to the community through education and charitable acts to make a difference in the environment.
  • We will embrace technology, while always providing our customers no nonsense service with prompt, clear and truthful communications.

Prior to starting Tri State Water Works, Sean worked as a territory manager for Wolf Creek Company. Sean and his wife, Denise, live in Cincinnati and have two growing children – Christopher is thirteen and Malachi is eleven. Sean, a big advocate of education, is an adjunct instructor in irrigation at Cincinnati State.

Fix a Leak Week – March 12-19th

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drip, drip, drip. It’s just about that time of year again. Grab a wrench, pipe tape—and your keyboard!—to celebrate the fourth annual Fix a Leak Week, March 12-18, 2012.

 Every Drop Counts

Did you know that an American home can waste, on average, more than 10,000 gallons of water every year due to running toilets, dripping faucets, and other household leaks?

Water Spout - Raci, Peru South AmericaNationwide, more than 1 trillion gallons of water leak from U.S. homes each year. That’s why WaterSense reminds Americans to check their plumbing fixtures and irrigation systems each year during Fix a Leak Week.

WaterSense is teaming up with their partners to promote the fourth annual Fix a Leak Week, March 12-18, 2012.

From New Mexico’s search for bad flappers to leak detection efforts in Texas, West Virginia and across the nation, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved in this year’s Fix A Leak Week. Explore a list of some of this year’s many events to find out more.

For all the latest on Fix a Leak Week events happening across the country, be sure to follow this on Facebook.

To keep the momentum going, partners are encouraged to use Twitter and the hashtag #fixaleak all week long to promote their efforts and the Fix a Leak Week campaign. In the meantime, don’t forget about all of the great promotional tools available on WaterSense Partner website, and make sure to check out what other partners are doing to spread the word about finding and fixing leaks.

Check out this video from Wisconsin DNR.

What to Ask When Purchasing a ‘Smart’ Controller

What questions should I ask before purchasing a “smart” controller?

The Irrigation Association®, a non-profit organization supporting water conservation through efficient irrigation, has information on their website to educate consumers about the questions to ask their contractor when considering a “smart” irrigation controller.

Click here to read more. . .

Be sure to read it prior to meeting with your irrigation professional. And before beginning any work, be sure to confirm that your contractor is specifically trained in the installation of the “smart” controller they have selected.

What Is Certification?

Courtesy of the Irrigation Association

The Irrigation Association began its certification programs to help homeowners and businesses identify qualified and competent irrigation contractors and designers.

When you hire a professional certified by the IA, you are hiring someone who is experienced, trained and working to meet irrigation industry standards. Certified irrigation specialists must first have a certain level of experience and/or training. They must then pass a comprehensive exam covering general irrigation subjects as well as specialty areas and agree to follow a code of ethics. To maintain active certification, specialists must take continuing education classes.

You may verify that an irrigation professional is currently certified (or find an IA certified professional) by visiting Certified Professionals. Or call the IA office at 703-536-7080 (Mon-Fri ET), if you have questions concerning the status of a prospective contractor.

[Read more…]

Choosing a Contractor

Adapted from materials created by the Carolinas Irrigation Association

Whether you are searching for a professional irrigation contractor to install a system or to service an existing system, any professional you consider should have certain qualifications to do your work. The bottom line is that you are not just buying an irrigation system, but you are also buying the services of a contractor. Your job is to find the professional to do the work that will satisfy you. Use this guide along with questions on the IA Irrigation Consumer Bill of Rights.

[Read more…]