In Southern California, the water crisis seems to be a never-ending concern. How are cities supposed to keep their public land looking inviting to residents and visitors when they run into water challenges around every corner?
When Maintenance Manager, Anthony Ciotti, and Director of Public Works, Dan Keesee, took over the City of LaVerne Parks Department in 2010, this was a huge question in their minds. Their goal was to turn LaVerne’s 120 acres of playable land (passive/active parks and pocket parks) into the best looking parks in the state, but when they began looking at water bills and evaluating how much water was being used, their findings were outrageous. As is common in city irrigation systems, controllers spanned multiple manufacturers and decades, with no consistency. Service technicians had to be trained on multiple controllers, of varying complexities. They immediately began looking for ways to save water and a significant amount of time. Recognizing the connection between how many hours their maintenance team spent running from park to park, reprogramming irrigation controllers and how much they were able to focus on beautifying the landscape, Ciotti and Keesee decided to invest in a product that would remove these obstacles.
Ciotti and Keesee had a clear vision of the solution they wanted. They needed an ET-based Smart control system that would enable them to program the specifics of each zone so the controller could make its own programming changes 365 days a year. And it had to be a simple system they could manage from anywhere.
After comparing all their options, they agreed Weathermatic was the best fit because they felt the SmartLine Smart controller “seemed like a homeowners’ irrigation control box on steroids. It’s easy to use.” It also had all the functions they required. Since January 2012, the City has installed 100 SmartLine controllers with wireless or hardwired weather stations, and they are installing 22 more in 2013. City of LaVerne has beenvery happy with the support they’ve received from Weathermatic. According to Ciotti, “I can shoot an e-mail from my phone to one of the reps. [The Vice President] has been out in the field with us, getting his hands dirty. The support is unbelievable.”
The City Manager and City Council have been involved throughout this whole process and are impressed with the results so far. Since upgrading to Weathermatic products, the LaVerne parks are consistently saving 30-35% on their water use from month to month. The Parks managers are thrilled, too. “With weather stations, we don’t have to run around and turn clocks off when it rains. We can knock watering down 50% from November to April from a computer instead of from the field. It saves a lot of time,” Ciotti says. He estimates his crew saves at least two weeks’ worth of work per year by having web-based control, allowing them to focus on core activities in the field to keep their parks in top shape.