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How To Cut Costs With Sprinkler System Water Conservation

This article will provide you with water conservation tips for your turf. Above all, the intelligent use of water is about using water efficiently — in the most precise and even manner possible, minimizing waste. The following pages contain best practices and product suggestions.

1. Promote The Water/Cost Saving Benefits Of Water Conserving Products

Water conservation products are better for the environment and they can save money. Therefore, some customers may need to be educated on the benefits of purchasing a more expensive water conserving product. This is because it will save them money in the long run. Design, install and sell water-conserving products that benefit the environment and the customer’s checkbook.

2. Design For Different Plant Needs And Environmental Conditions

Setting up zones is essential in designing for different plant needs and environmental conditions. Similarly, setting up irrigation zones and schedules for plants is based on the water needs of your plant groupings. This will require more zones and may cost more initially but will save water in the long run.

For example, suppose a landscape includes grass, shrubs, and trees. The grass requires more water to stay healthy than shrubs and trees. If everything is in the same zone, the watering needs will be dictated by the grass. In this case, the shrubs and trees will be over-watered. Similarly, you can divide the zones into separate programs on the controller which will allow for more precise water times. With this method, the water will be applied as necessary for any particular plant. All Rain Bird controllers include a minimum of two programs. Click here to shop for controllers at the Sprinkler Warehouse.

3. Use Pressure Regulating Devices In High-Pressure Situations

Every 5 psi reduction in water pressure reduces water usage by 6-8%. If the savings are over 50% if a 70 psi spray zone is reduced to the recommended 30 psi. Therefore, the design for an optimum 30 psi water delivery to spray heads to avoid wasteful misting/fogging. This can be achieved with pressure regulating spray heads (1800-PRS), pressure reducing valves, and pressure regulating modules installed on valves (PRS-D). In addition, for low-pressure situations, which can result in uneven coverage, use a high-efficiency pump.

4. Use Check Valve Devices To Prevent Low Head Drainage

In landscaping with different elevations, water flows down to the lowest head on the system and drains out. As a result, this causes puddling, erosion, and run-off. In addition, a check valve or pre-installed Seal-A-Matic (SAM) device prevents the water from draining out. It does this by trapping the water in the lateral line (SAM available on 1800 Series and UNI-Spray. Shop for sprinkler heads at the Sprinkler Warehouse.

5. Use High-Efficiency Nozzles For Uniform Coverage

In other words, use nozzles that apply water evenly and save up to 30% in water usage. This is best achieved using matched precipitation rate nozzles (MPR and U-Series spray head nozzles and all rotor nozzles). If precipitation is not matched, the system must be set to water the area that is putting down the least amount of water, thereby over-watering the other areas and wasting water. High-efficiency nozzles (U-Series nozzles on spray heads and Rain Curtain nozzles on rotors) are matched precipitation nozzles that provide the best and most uniform coverage, thereby eliminating watering gaps and reducing water usage by as much as 30%. Shop for nozzles at Sprinkler Warehouse.ย 

6. Install Direct-To-Plant-Root Irrigation In Non-Turf Areas

Use drip irrigation for shrubs, flowers, and other non-turf areas. Drip irrigation systems deliver precise amounts of water slowly and evenly at the plant’s roots. In addition, this eliminates water waste, run-off, and overspray onto windows, walks, and streets. The slow, consistent application of water at the plant root reduces weeds and plant disease. Therefore, it helps plants to thrive (Rain Bird’s Low Volume Drip Products, and Root Watering System for trees).

7. Use Flow Control Devices

Install valves with flow control that allow you to better manage the flow of your system and prevent run-off. Similarly, this is included in Rain Bird’s DVF, ASVF, PGA, PE, GB, EFB-CP, and BPE Valves.

8. Use An Automatic Shut-Off Device On Every System

Adding an automatic shut-off device can result in 15-20% in water savings. Install an automatic shut-off device like a rain sensor or moisture sensor on every system. These devices automatically shut-off the controller when it is raining or when sufficient soil moisture is reached. They prevent over-watering and the bad publicity that results from sprinklers running when it rains (Rain Bird’s Rain Sensors).

9. Always Install An Automatic Controller With Water-Conserving Functions

The following are some of the keys features currently available in controllers for maximum flexibility and water efficiency:

10. Multiple Start Times

The tenth water conservation tip for your turf is to program multiple start times. This allows you to pick several shorter and more precise run times which in addition, will prevent run-off and puddles.

11. Multiple Independent Programs

This allows the watering schedule to be divided into smaller, more precise watering schedules. In other words, multiple independent programs accommodate the watering needs of different types of plant life. (found in Rain Bird’s EC, ESP Modular, ESP-LX Modular, ESP-MC, Site Control, and Maxicom system)

12. Water Budget

This provides easy and flexible adjustments to the amount of water used for irrigation (found in Rain Bird’s Ec, ESP-Modular, ESP-LX Modular, ESP-MC, Site Control, and Maxicom system)

13. Rain Delay

This allows the user to pause a watering schedule when irrigation isn’t needed and resume watering when appropriate. Found in Rain Bird’s ESP-LX Modular, MC, Site Control and Maxicom system.

14. Cycle + Soak

This applies water at a rate that the soil can accept, reducing erosion, run-off, and waste.

15. Flow Management

For help with flow management, you can install a flow sensor. Flow sensors enable the controller to detect system problems like line breaks or broken sprinklers and shut down irrigation to the affected zones to prevent water waste (found in Rain Bird’s Site Control and Maxicom system)

16. ET Programming

Another water conservation tip for your turf is ET Programming. This enables the controller to calculate daily evapotranspiration (ET) values and adjust the station run times to replace only the water used by the plants. This maintains a healthy landscape while minimizing water use (found in Rain Bird’s ET Manager, Site Control and Maxicom system).

17. For Complete System Automation On Commercial Sites, Consider A Central Control System

Central control systems show annual water savings of 25 – 30% on average. Similarly, a central control system operates single or multiple controllers, sensors and other irrigation devices from one central location. It contains all of the functions listed in the Controller section above plus additional sensors that monitor and control environmental conditions automatically and without the need for personal intervention. Additionally, see Rain Bird’s website for testimonials and cost/water savings examples using central control systems (Rain Bird’s Maxicom2 and Site Control).

18. Set Sprinklers To Water Early In The Morning

Set up systems to irrigate between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. Early in the morning is the most efficient time to water because water can reach its destination without being evaporated by the sun or blown away by the wind. This will also save landscapes from disease caused by water sitting on plants overnight and prevents compaction caused by heavy traffic on wet soils (all Rain Bird Controllers offer multiple start time options).

19. Become More Educated About Irrigation Efficiency: Become IA Certified

Another water conservation tip for your turf is to become IA certified. By becoming IA certified you will become more knowledgeable about designing and installing efficient irrigation systems. Much of the coursework includes information on water-conserving products and techniques. By understanding these, you can perform irrigation audits to assess the efficiency of an irrigation system. After that, you can better educate your customers on the benefits of an efficient, water-conserving irrigation system to a healthy environment. Contact the Irrigation Association (IA) for more information.