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City gets smart on irrigation

Posted: February 3, 2011 6:30 a.m.
Updated: February 3, 2011 6:30 a.m.
 

The city of Santa Clarita expects to save more than 180 million gallons of water each year thanks to a recent landscape-irrigation partnership.

Once completed, the project, which will soon enter its second phase, will be the largest use of wireless water controllers in the world, according to industry insiders.

ValleyCrest Landscape Maintenance and HydroPoint Data Systems Inc. announced last week that they teamed with the city to implement the second phase of the Santa Clarita Irrigation Controller Replacement program.

In November, the city selected ValleyCrest to replace about 336 irrigation timers with WeatherTrack controllers, the bulk of the project.

The new water timers come equipped with wireless Internet capabilities and software that allow them to calculate exactly how much water is needed in a given area based on the weather and the amount of evaporated water in that location, said Ben Slick, vice president of business development for HydroPoint.

This eliminates irrigation runoff that typically ends up in city sidewalks and gutters, Slick said.
Richard Restuccia, director of water-management solutions for ValleyCrest, commended the city for its adoption of water-saving technology.

“I think the city of Santa Clarita is being a leader,” he said. “I think it’s a model for other cities to use.”

The second phase will be completed sometime near the end of April.

Almost 500 weather-based irrigation controllers, or smart controllers, will be placed at the city’s landscaped areas around town as part of the “world’s largest smart water-management system ever installed,” according to Water Efficiency Magazine, a trade publication.

The $600,000 project, which began last spring, is being paid for through the city’s landscape maintenance special district fund.

Given the water savings, the city expects the project will pay for itself in as few as six years.

During a summer 2009 test using the controllers, the city saw a total water savings of 40 percent, said Jason La Riva, the city’s landscape-maintenance specialist.

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