Experts: Smart technology will end water waste

Sprinklers won't run in rain

By Greg Wilson - Photographer

Central Florida’s landscape is a blend of palm trees, green grass and sprinkler systems churning out hundreds of gallons of water in the pouring rain.

It’s a flaw in irrigation systems that experts said is wasting water at an alarming rate.

[WEB EXTRAS: OC Water Conservation | UF/IFAS Research | Weber Environmental Services ]

Dr. Michael Dukes of the University of Florida/IFAS has been developing a counter offensive that he said could deliver water savings that would not only benefit residents now but future generations as well.

Dukes and Jacqueline Torbert, manager of the Orange County Utilities Water Division, conducted a 3-year controlled study on new technology with encouraging results.

"We implemented two different types of smart controllers,” Dukes said.. “One being a soil moisture sensor, one being an ET or Evapotranspiration controller."

"The study itself has revealed that anywhere from 18 to 43 percent of the water that was used could potentially be saved,” said Torbert.

Dukes said along with environmental impact, homeowners and businesses would benefit financially because it would translate to savings on their utility bill.

One of the problems the study uncovered was lack of maintenance.

Ken Weber, owner of Weber Environmental Services, said proper installation of your system and maintenance are the keys to savings.

You can buy a Soil Moisture Sensor Controller for around $150, and can add it on to most irrigation systems yourself or hire a professional to do the installation. If you opt for the ET System, your entire irrigation controller will need to be replaced. They run around $250 plus installation. The ET controllers are one of the most advanced systems on the market. They also measure other weather parameters, like temperature, humidity, solar radiation and wind speed.

They can be purchased at local irrigation supply houses or online.

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