Irrigating 50 acres in a two-day window while constantly having to adjust watering schedules to accommodate weddings, funerals, and athletic events may sound like a challenge fit for reality TV, but for Jerry Owen it was just plain reality. The Director of Exterior Services at Prestonwood Baptist Church, Owen is responsible for three sprawling campuses, serving over 33,000 people. Operating under strict water restrictions, Owen and his crew had been aggressively managing the irrigation to stay in compliance and keep the properties looking their best. But with events happening daily – and sometimes without warning – they were constantly driving from campus to campus to reprogram irrigation controllers, losing precious time for other important maintenance activities.
In early 2007, Weathermatic CEO Mike Mason proposed replacing the variety of older irrigation controllers on the 50-acre Plano campus with new SmartLine controllers and weather stations. In May 2007, Weathermatic installed 28 SmartLine controllers over approximately 500 zones.
Owen and his crew appreciate the simple setup and programming of the SmartLine controllers. Now, if a controller needs to be reprogrammed to accommodate an event, “It’s very easy to adjust as needed or to tell someone else how to adjust it,” Owen says. “If I can adjust a SmartLine controller, anyone can. [They] are very easy to set and adjust and move around.” They are also impressed with the Automatic setting. Although it took a lot of trust for the crew to allow the system to run on Automatic, they soon learned that with weather stations and the smart functionality of the controllers, it really did help them reduce water usage and keep the landscape healthy.
The Plano campus was previously using an average of 51 million gallons of landscape irrigation water each year. During the first season with SmartLine controllers installed, water usage was cut by 20 million gallons and irrigation expense was reduced by approximately $41,000. The City of Plano requires residents to cut down water consumption by 5% each year and the church has been able to meet that goal every year because of their initial system upgrade and continued aggressive maintenance. Owen says the landscape looks better overall than it did before, while experiencing water savings. “Anytime we can save a dollar, that helps us. With this new system we are saving many dollars.”