Putting Sense Into Water Use

Posted by Macie Schreibman on November 08, 2011
Putting Sense Into Water Use

Residential outdoor water use in the United States accounts for more than 7 billion gallons of water each day, mainly for landscape irrigation. Experts estimate that as much as 50% of this water is wasted due to overwatering caused by inefficiencies in irrigation methods and systems. Existing irrigation control technologies can significantly reduce overwatering by applying water only when plants need it.

The EPA’s WaterSense program has just released the final specification for weather-based irrigation controllers, making them the first outdoor product category eligible to earn the WaterSense label. Manufacturers of these products can now begin the testing and certification process, and WaterSense labeled controllers could be available as early as the spring.

WaterSense labeled irrigation controllers, which act like a thermostat for your sprinkler system, use local weather and landscape conditions to tailor watering schedules to actual conditions on the site. WaterSense labeled models will be independently certified to meet EPA’s water-efficiency and performance criteria, ensuring that they are able to meet the water needs of the plants without overwatering.

“As much as half of the water we use on our landscapes goes to waste due to evaporation, wind, and improperly scheduled irrigation systems,” said Sheila Frace, director the EPA Office of Water’s Municipal Support Division. “WaterSense labeled irrigation controllers are designed to do the thinking for you and apply water only when needed to ensure a healthy landscape and avoid runoff.”

This latest WaterSense specification reflects four years of work among EPA and controller manufacturers, water utilities, irrigation industry representatives, and other stakeholders. Both residential and commercial irrigation system applications are included, and supplemental features are required, including the ability to accommodate local watering restrictions. Performance criteria were based on the Smart Water Application TechnologiesTM (SWAT) protocol, and research from the University of Florida supported development of the specification.

Like any other “smart" innovation, proper installation, programming, and maintenance are the keys to controller performance. WaterSense irrigation partners are trained and certified in water-efficient practices and are available to design, install, audit, and maintain irrigation systems for peak efficiency.

For more information, visit EPA's website.

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