Topic: Smart Irrigation


A pulse of life at the mouth of the Colorado

Excerpt: A river bled dry by thirsty cities and farms in two countries will flow once again through northern Mexico later this month in an international experiment in habitat restoration.

Excerpt: Under the watchful eyes of researchers from a bi-national scientific team, the initial flood from Morelos Dam — a mile south of where California, Arizona and Mexico adjoin — will build and then ebb through May 18. The goal is to spur growth along the river channel, which historically harbored native, flood-adapted willow and cottonwood trees.

Excerpt: The 105,000 acre-feet to be released during the pulse represents less than 1 percent of the river’s flow in an average year, but it should be enough to reconnect the Colorado to the sea — temporarily.

If advocates hope to restore the flow for good, they will have to persuade users to consume less and cooperate even more.

Expanding Disk Rain Sensor Performance

Excerpt: Rain sensors RSs appear to be a useful tool for water conservation at a relatively low cost. However, little evidence related
to RS performance and/or reliability exists. The objectives of this experiment were to: 1 evaluate two RS types with respect to the
following: Accuracy of their set point, number of irrigation cycles bypassed, and duration in bypass mode; 2 quantify the amount of
water that RSs could save; and 3 estimate their payback period. Mini-click MC and wireless rain-click WL rain sensor models were

Excerpt: For the WL treatment, the dry-out ventilation windows were set half open, and for the MC treatments, rainfall set points of 3,
13, and 25 mm were established. On average, all treatments responded close to their set points with the WL, 3 mm MC, 13 mm MC, and
25 mm MC treatments averaging 1.4, 3.4, 10.0, and 24.5 mm, respectively. However, some replicates showed variable behavior. The
number of times that these sensors shut off irrigation 81, 43, 30, and 8 times, respectively was inversely proportional to the magnitude
of their set point, with potential water savings following a similar trend. Where water costs exceed $0.53 per cubic meter $2.00 per
thousand gallons, the payback period is less than a year for WL and MCs set at 13 mm or less.

What's Next for Smart Irrigation?

Excerpt: Smart irrigation is not a new concept for the green building community. Several types of technologies are mentioned within the International Green Construction Code (IgCC) and IAPMO Green supplement, as well as within programs such as the EPA’s WaterSense New Homes and LEED for Homes.

Excerpt: According to Mecham, research has shown that each of these smart irrigation products has the potential to offer at least 20% in water savings, and in some cases, even more. A University of Florida study, for example, found that Florida homeowners could achieve up to a 44% water savings if they used a rain sensor. Interestingly enough, state law requires that any person who purchases and installs an automatic landscape irrigation system must install a rain sensor. Sadly, that same study estimated that only 25% of Florida homeowners are following the law and installing rain sensors.

Excerpt: Looking ahead, Mecham would like to see testing standards in place for all five technologies by 2015, which he thinks will help push these technologies through the WaterSense program and into more homes. However, Mecham says it will be important for the industry to create standards that focus on the future and leave room for innovation. “We don’t want to write a products standard or test standard that would actually inhibit innovation,” he says. “We want to write ones that would accommodate it. That, to me, is the real challenge.”