Features of Water-Efficient Irrigation Systems


The California State Water Resources Control Board adopted an amendment on March 17th which will require local water suppliers to limit outdoor residential watering, in most cases, to two days per week.  Allowable water use for commercial landscapes, schools, and parks has already been reduced by 35% and probably more as the drought continues.  You can expect changes in your local regulations within 45 days.

For homeowners and businesses that have delayed removing turf, planting drought-tolerant landscapes, or installing efficient irrigation systems, the time to act is now.

Is your irrigation system efficient enough to maintain plant health in the midst of water use restrictions?  Clearly the intent is to not flood your property on your allowable watering days, but rather to deliver the appropriate amount of water to the root zone of your plants without excess runoff or pooling (which you can be fined for under current water use policy).  A true water-efficient irrigation system does just that.

A water-efficient irrigation system has one or more of the following components (more savings occur with each additional item):

  • A “Smart” irrigation controller which is able to automatically adjust watering amounts to changes in weather, especially when equipped with rain sensor and/or soil sensor.
  • Low precipitation rate sprinklers and nozzles that minimize runoff.
  • Sub-surface drip irrigation which is almost 20% more efficient than traditional sprinklers.
  • Valves with pressure regulation which can result in a 30-40% reduction in water use.

On top of the water-savings, many local water suppliers are now offering rebates (up to $150 in Calaveras County) when you install or retrofit your irrigation system with water-efficient technologies.  However, consider that the performance of an automatic sprinkler system is only as good as the professionals installing it.  Look for a licensed professional with an established reputation.  Expertise in irrigation planning is critical to the initial design and installation of your system as well as for retrofitting an existing system for maximum efficiency.


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