AMWUA Cities Utilize Smart Irrigation to Achieve Water Efficiency
By Warren Tenney
As Smart Irrigation Month wraps up, our attention to saving water outdoors continues to ramp up. Although July is a peak month for outdoor water use and a good time to make sure you’re using irrigation efficiently, we must remember smart water use, both inside the home and outdoors, is a year-long commitment.
As residents, homeowners and business owners, we understand the importance of doing our part to save water. We understand its value, especially in an arid climate like ours. But we are not in it alone.
Being efficient is our way of life in the desert which is precisely why the AMWUA cities work tirelessly to provide us with materials, resources and tools to use water wisely. In addition to assisting residents, the cities also understand the importance of their own efficient water use, which is why, on a regular basis, they evaluate their own municipal facilities – inside and out.
In each of the AMWUA cities across the Valley are outdoor facilities such as neighborhood parks, community and adult centers, recreational and sports fields, just to name a few. These large-scale facilities utilize irrigation systems to maintain the health of turf and trees, and require diligent maintenance and routine checkups to limit water waste and ensure efficiency. In addition, they continually strive to utilize technology and best practices through standardized equipment and installation processes with water management training programs for staff as their knowledge is vital to achieving efficiency.
Utilizing the latest technology is a worth-while investment and assists with their water use in a big way. Smart controllers, which use sensors and other technology to water according to weather conditions, have become a valuable tool utilized by many of the cities. These controllers help ensure irrigation systems run only when needed. In addition, they show water flow that can confirm breaks and leaks while also producing regular reports to monitor the health of the entire system.
Since 2012, the City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department has invested two million dollars installing smart controllers in their largest outdoor facilities. With 90 percent of those facilities using the latest technology, significant cost savings have already been seen in the way of millions of dollars and will bring additional savings on a continual basis. The use of smart irrigation technology combined with other water reducing efforts has also brought forth substantial water savings for the department. Between 2013 and 2018, those water savings equaled 2.8 billion gallons.
Prior to the installation of smart controllers, park and recreation staff members would have to drive around the cities to manually shut off irrigation systems when it would rain, only to head back out a few days later to then turn them all back on. In addition, before the systems were put on-line workers would have to manually check each sprinkler, head valves and controllers to make sure there were no leaks or damaged components as part of regular maintenance. Although this is something they continue to do on a monthly basis for the smaller facilities that remain running on manual systems, the efficiency this technology has brought forth in not only water use, but in manpower has been significant. All of which help overall operational costs, which in the end brings cost savings to us all.
It’s important to note that when you are dealing with these large outdoor facilities, one leak or a minor three-minute increase in watering time, can mean thousands even millions of dollars in water use. This is why the AMWUA municipalities understand the importance of smart irrigation practices and is precisely why making their investment in smart irrigation technology ensures their facilities run not only as efficient as possible, but are more sustainable for the long-term through wise water use and cost savings.
And luckily, this technology is available to all of us which means we can utilize smart controllers to experience the water and cost savings first-hand. By investing in the latest technologies, you can save water, money and time in caring for your landscape, ensuring its efficiency and sustainability for the long-term too.
For 50 years, Arizona Municipal Water Users Association has worked to protect our member cities’ ability to provide assured, safe and sustainable water supplies to their communities. For more water information visit www.amwua.org.
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