Five Steps to Maximize Water Efficiency

Sprinkler with run off“Drought” is the scary word for municipalities, property and facility managers, especially in the Western United States due to its severity and the multi-year impact on regions.

The challenge is to create an aesthetically beautiful landscape while working with significant water restrictions and maximizing water efficiency. In 2014, California’s Governor Brown declared a statewide drought emergency asking all Californians to reduce their water use by 20%. Similar drought situations plagued Colorado and Utah in 2002 and 2012.

It does not seem there is an end to water restrictions; water management is the new norm. (See USA Drought Monitor)

Managing Landscape Water Costs

Caring and taking action about our individual and collective water use is environmentally responsible, but maximizing water efficiencies can also be a significant savings in water costs. Landscape professionals need to work closely with property managers to help evaluate, install, monitor and manage their irrigation systems.

drought monitorManaging expectations and educating property managers and tenants is key when transitioning to a true water management program. Here are the five steps:

1. Education

Most public and commercial properties can benefit from a variety of water reduction modifications. Understanding what is optimal for your property and how to maximize water efficiency takes some commitment to learn about best practices, innovative irrigation tools and accessibility to resources for better water conservation.

Replacing heads and nozzles, utilizing flow sensors and installing smart controllers are a few of many options to review. Learning and working closely with your irrigation specialist will help you save money and conserve water. Ask your irrigation specialist about any rebates your county may have. A great way to start is to participate in water management seminars. Contact us to learn more.

2. Evaluate and Audit

Start with a bench mark. Find out the challenges to the current water system, water runoff, leaking pipes, damaged nozzles etc. Obtaining an irrigation system evaluation and water audit is a critical first step to assess current systems and determine how to improve management of outdoor water systems.

3. Design

Working in partnership with your irrigation manager is important to build the best water system that maximes water efficiency. The design would review and may include budget constraints, scheduling, nozzle conversions, water flow, soil management, plant removal and replacement (i.e. xeriscape), rain sensors and smart controllers.

irrigation nozzle install
4. Implement

Once the design is complete the fun begins with the  implementation of the changes and enhancements of the water management project.

Implementation can be in phases and is focused on maximizing savings and water efficiencies from day one of installations, repairs,  and replacements. The goal is for the capital investment to pay off as early as possible and in some cases cost savings are realized (with rebate programs) within a year.

5. Monitor

Finally, overtime your landscape company continues to view water flow and inspect for leaks and nozzle repair. In addition,  it is important to track and measure the effects of your water efficiency updates.

Local water districts help to monitor usage and costs. Questions to ask: Is less water being consumed each month or year over year? Are the investments in water efficient updates to your property set to pay off, when? Check out rebate programs, cash for grass and installations incentives at your water districts or cities where you reside. You may be surprised how lucrative they can be on large properties.

2 thoughts on “Five Steps to Maximize Water Efficiency

  1. I like your tip to start with an evaluation and audit to see what your current water use looks like. You can’t know how to improve if you don’t know where you are. Do I do this evaluation myself, or is there someone I can call to do it for me? Are the evaluation and audit done by the same person, or will those be separate things? Thanks!

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