Smart Sprinkler Controllers

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By Staff Writer Susannah Kopecky.

Save Water and MoneyIt was only a few short years ago in 2008 that low water yields and dry weather caused former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to declare California to be in a state of drought. Certain measures and water-use regulations were put into place during the drought, including restrictions on the hours during which homeowners could run their sprinklers.

Earlier this year on March 30, Governor Jerry Brown declared that California was no longer in a drought.  However, it is important that we understand the lessons of the drought and continue to appreciate and utilize the water-saving strategies and technologies that came about as a result of water scarcity.

One significant technology which rose to greater prominence in this time was the smart sprinkler controller. What makes a “smart” sprinkler controller so smart? The term “smart sprinkler controller” refers to a class of automated sprinkler control systems which can do quite a number of impressive tricks, including properly gaging water needs according to a number of factors including climate and plant type; scheduling watering times according to plant need; and restricting the amount of water used, to conform to state and local mandates.

Today, particularly in California, water is a precious commodity.

Numerous water delivery agencies and government agencies encouraged and continue to encourage residents to use smart sprinkler controllers to take care of their lawns and gardens. The Association of California Water Agencies’ Save Our Water website encourages visitors to change their water-use habits, both inside and outside of the home, noting that contrary to public opinion, “[t]he truth is that in some areas, 50% or more of the water we use daily goes on lawns and outdoor landscaping.”

The website urges residents to focus on their irrigation systems, noting that by being vigilant and making sure only the correct areas are being watered and are being water efficiently, the average resident can save around 15 gallons of water per watering.

The website also points out that a “smart controller” (also known as a “weather-based irrigation controller”) “will automatically adjust the watering time and frequency based on soil moisture, rain, wind, and evaporation and transpiration rates.”

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California points out that another benefit of the smart sprinkler controller is that by receiving real-time weather updates, it “will automatically reduce the watering times as the weather gets cooler and less water is needed.”

And in addition to making watering that much easier, smart sprinkler controllers can often pay for themselves within a short time of their purchase, as users can save noticeably on monthly water bills. And if the price tag is of concern, potential users should also be aware that many water agencies (and some government agencies) offer rebates to those who purchase smart sprinkler controller systems.

Water districts such as the Casitas Municipal Water District, the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) of Southern California and the Regional Water Authority’s Be Water Smart program include links to rebates and/or participating cities sna d organizations offering smart controller rebates. The MWD Save a Buck website points out that 66% of its smart sprinkler controller rebates are still available. Its program runs through April 30, 2012.

Learn more about how you might be able to save money, save water and become a little more green by investing in a ‘smarter’ way to water your landscape!

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