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06.06.11Eric Santos

Roots of Water Conservation

Even though there may be a few common fundamental threads to saving water in residential landscapes and commercial landscapes, the execution and success to water conservation in commercial landscapes becomes much more challenging to achieve due to the magnitude and complexity of commercial irrigation systems.

From its highest perspective, water conservation in both residential and commercial landscapes is achieved in the following three ways;

1. Plant palette modification, which consists of replacing high water using landscapes with lower water use or drought tolerant / native plant material.

2. Improved Irrigation scheduling which involves frequent adjustments to match changes in evapotranspiration (ET) or weather. Advanced irrigation programming techniques such as utilizing multiple start times to cycle and soak irrigation events will reduce runoff and waste. Utilizing multiple or all the programs available on a controller to group and water plant material with similar water requirements will prevent over watering unnecessarily. If programmed and operated correctly on a well designed, installed and maintained irrigation system, smart controllers with on site ET or soil moisture sensors can help ensure irrigation schedules are appropriate and excessive irrigation minimized.

3. The third fundamental way to reduce water use is by improving the efficiency of the irrigation system in the ground. The easiest and most commonly over looked way to do this is by performing regular system inspections to correct deficiencies such as tilted and sunken sprinkler heads and correct basic repairs. Advancements in irrigation technology such as high efficiency sprinklers and nozzles, pressure regulating devices, and check valves can improve a systems efficiency as well. A certified landscape irrigation auditor can recommend coverage and hydro-zoning improvements to ensure the irrigation system is operating and applying water evenly and efficiently with matched precipitation rates with a high degree of distribution uniformity.

Implementing one of the three fundamentals mentioned above without one or two of the others could result in little or no water savings at all. In order to maximize savings plants must be watered to their individual specific needs by a well maintained system with as few deficiencies as possible. Good fundamental water management will not only save earths most valuable resource but will result in a lower water bill and a healthier landscape.

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Eric Santos

Eric Santos has over 17-year of experience in landscape irrigation and has focused on irrigation technology and recycled water retrofits throughout his career. As the Division Leader for Irrigation and Water Management, Eric provides oversight and support of irrigation operations for the maintenance division and leads the division’s rigorous irrigation training program. Eric holds every Irrigation Association Certification in landscape irrigation and serves on the Irrigation Associations Education Foundation’s Board of Trustees and as Vice Chair of the Irrigation Associations Contractor Common Interest Group.

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