Conserving During Extreme Drought
As California’s extreme drought continues, cities and individuals across the state search for long-term solutions to rising bills and possible water shortages. The City of LaVerne, California, began taking proactive measures to reduce their overall water use beginning in 2012, an effort that has paid off in many ways.
Led by Parks Department Maintenance Manager, Anthony Ciotti, and Director of Public Works, Dan Keesey, the city’s primary conservation focus has been on landscape irrigation water use on their 120 acres of city parks. Ciotti and Keesey originally set out to improve the appearance of the parks, but when they began looking at water bills and evaluating how much water was being used, they uncovered a serious problem. As is common in city irrigation systems, irrigation controllers spanned multiple manufacturers and decades, with no consistency. The outdated controllers were causing water waste, unhealthy plants, and excessive labor for the maintenance crew.
Ciotti and Keesey took immediate action to reduce this waste by upgrading the Parks Department’s irrigation system, installing 122 Weathermatic SmartLine controllers with wireless or hard-wired weather stations and connection to the SmartLink Wireless Landscape Network. After comparing all their options, they chose the SmartLine controller because it was affordable, simple to install and manage, and had all of the high-tech functions they required. Weather stations provide the controllers with real-time, local weather data so they can automatically adjust watering based on how much moisture the landscape actually needs each day, instead of using a seasonal estimate. The SmartLink Wireless Landscape Network allows Ciotti to program and monitor all 122 controllers from his computer, rather than having to travel to each controller individually to make changes.
Since upgrading to Weathermatic products, the LaVerne parks have consistently saved 30-35% on their water use from month to month for the last two years, far above Governor Brown’s suggested 20% savings. The Parks managers are thrilled, too. “With weather stations, we don’t have to run around and turn [irrigation controllers] off when it rains. We can knock watering down 50% from November to April from a computer instead of from the field,” Ciotti says. With farms in jeopardy, wildfires raging, and every drop of water being scrutinized, the City of LaVerne’s conservation success has proven how an affordable change can make a long-term difference for the state.