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6 Ways to Decrease Water Used for Irrigation

Posted by on Oct 17, 2012 in Blog, News | Comments Off on 6 Ways to Decrease Water Used for Irrigation

With water prices going up along with our awareness of water scarcity, we are often asked how to decrease water used for irrigation.  Here are a few of our tactics for reducing the overall water used by an irrigation system: Reduce Site Water Requirements One of the simplest ways to decrease water used for irrigation is to limit the turf areas that require a high amount of water, along with plants that have moderate to high water needs. Replace plants and turf areas with hearty/native plants that can survive with less water. Improve Distribution Uniformity (DU) Oftentimes, facility managers will run the sprinklers longer if they see that there are dry/brown spots. Not only does this decrease water efficiency, it is ineffective. Dry spots are a result of poor sprinkler head spacing and placement. Distribution uniformity means placing the sprinkler heads properly so that water will be distributed evenly across the entire lawn, or planted area. Using equipment that has a more consistent application rate in turf areas to eliminate dry areas will also work to achieve even distribution of water. Use Pressure Regulation Pressure regulation helps ensure that sprinklers are operating at the optimal level.  When pressure is too high, water droplets atomize, which results in significant amounts of water being carried off-site by wind drift. By reducing the operating pressure, the water drops are larger and heavier, and are more likely to land where intended. Convert to Drip Irrigation Convert sprinklers (within plant beds) over to drip irrigation so water has less of a chance to evaporate and/or runoff. Drip irrigation is about 90-95% efficient, while spray heads and rotors are about 60-65% efficient. Improve Management Practices Make sure property managers remember to check the sprinklers once a week. Since the sprinklers usually operate after work hours, property managers may not know when a sprinkler head isn’t operating properly. A good practice is running the zones once a week to check that the whole system is in working order. Use Smart Controllers Smart controllers determine the watering durations and frequencies on a daily basis based on the real-time weather conditions. They adjust run times based on the needs of all the various plant types; some days, certain zones may not need to run at all.   The controller relies on you to input the correct soil and plant type. It is important to remember that these controllers are only as good as the information you input. If you are considering using a smart controller, you must be able to assess and document the various site features present within each zone (plants, soils, exposure, shade, slope, root depth).  ...

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Rainwater Harvesting Cost and Considerations

Posted by on Oct 10, 2012 in Blog, News | Comments Off on Rainwater Harvesting Cost and Considerations

As one of the oldest known gardening methods, rainwater harvesting is a great option for projects that need to reduce dependence on municipal water supplies and/or practice sustainable irrigation. Rainwater harvesting systems typically consist of three main components: the capture system (roof and gutters) the storage unit (cistern) the delivery system (pipes, pumps, and valves) Materials for the water storage unit are about two-thirds of the overall cost of the whole project, making this the most expensive component of the entire system. That is why it is  important to understand how to determine the optimal size water storage unit for each individual project. If you build too large, the payback will start to decrease. A small scale watering harvesting system for the home or small business would likely opt for a cistern that has less than a 10,000 gallon capacity. This type of system would be a viable use of collecting rain water and filtering it for reuse to water a garden or entrance area. A large scale water harvesting system for large commercial projects is at the other end of the spectrum.  The financial investment for these types of projects is going to be considerably larger. There are a number of factors that need to be considered: What is the size of the area to be irrigated? What is the area of the roof top or surface that will be allocated towards collecting and diverting water to a storage facility? What are the rainfall patterns for the project site? How these factors relate to the overall design of the system will vary in every project. With so many variables to consider, it is difficult to have a standard rule of thumb for projecting costs. But generally speaking, a water system in place and installed is right around 2 dollars per gallon. So for a 150,000 gallon storage unit, you will likely be in the ballpark of $300,000 project. Landtech’s partner, Wahaso (Water Harvesting Solutions, in Chicago) has good data about the rainfall pattern for every part of the country to help answer the questions: What was the amount of rain? How long did it rain? How frequently did the rain events occur? Answering these questions is vital to knowing what size of cistern you will need and how much you can expect to rely on harvested water for irrigation. Let’s say you need 150,000 gallons of water a week for your irrigation, and you live in a location where the amount of rainfall will not be sufficient to fill a 150,000 gallon cistern meaning the cistern would never actually be full. Therefore, spending money on a cistern that large would make a significant impact on the ROI.  A cistern should only be big enough for the amount of rain to be...

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What Does LEED and SITES Mean for Sustainable Irrigation?

Posted by on Oct 3, 2012 in Blog, News | Comments Off on What Does LEED and SITES Mean for Sustainable Irrigation?

Landscape professionals have a major role to play. Among other things, sustainable irrigation can help protect habitat, contribute to storm water management, reduce fossil fuel usage and conserve water. Across the country, green industry providers are lending their efforts in countless ways. Green roofs and walls, rainwater catchment systems, rain gardens, native plantings and no-mow zones are just a few examples. The professionals at Landtech are following suit by shifting the way we think about the future of irrigation. Programs like LEED and SITES have created a whole new way of thinking for us. We have witnessed firsthand how those with expertise in sustainable irrigation can provide high value perspective to developers, landscape architects, engineers and homeowners. Irrigation consultants are playing a valuable role in bettering the environment while at the same time boosting the image of the entire industry. While many in the irrigation industry see the rising trend of construction projects forgoing or minimizing irrigation to gain LEED and SITE credits as a threat, we are looking at this as an opportunity to engage. Efforts to conserve are not a passing fad. As irrigation professionals, we see that we have an important role to play as leaders in this movement. At first touch, LEED and SITE credits seem like a threat to our bottom line. However, the reality is that water is a scarce resource and we, as irrigation professionals, possess front-line knowledge and experience that give us an edge in providing value to the growth of the conservancy movement. LEED projects require a different mindset, and we know the platform of products that effectively  accomplish water conservation. We know what will work best for the specific needs of a project. Addressing irrigation from a design/build approach is usually not effective because irrigation contractors often don’t know what products to use to get LEED or SITE credits. At Landtech, we know exactly what needs to be done to meet the calculations for those water-efficiency credits. As experts in irrigation and devout followers of state-of-the-art technology, we create the right roadmap to get the results that are in demand in this era of green development.          ...

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7 Reasons to Use an Irrigation Consultant

Posted by on Sep 26, 2012 in Blog, News | Comments Off on 7 Reasons to Use an Irrigation Consultant

For many new construction projects in the Midwest and Northeast, irrigation is typically viewed as an overlap of landscaping and therefore usually does not have a well defined plan. Without having a set plan that multiple contractors can use to base their price quotes on, the construction manager gets prices that are based on the individual contractor’s cheapest version of the plan, so the construction manager is not comparing apples-to-apples and is not getting the best irrigation system for the job. With this approach, the construction manager is basing their decision off of who has the lowest bid, not who has the best plan that will meet the long term needs of their clients. This is why hiring an irrigation consultant may be one of the smartest investments a building manager makes in the overall design/build process. Here are seven reasons to use an irrigation consultant: 1. Commercial irrigation systems have become expensive; irrigation technology is sophisticated and can often be confusing. An irrigation consultant is a specialist who is kept up-to-date (by manufacturers), and can design a long-lasting system that is both water and energy efficient. 2. Most consultants are willing to review products with you, and can help you select from a wide array of products on the market. They can help you separate facts from confusing sales claims. 3.  Most importantly, an irrigation consultant can be supportive in the struggle to convince your client (and/or construction manager) to not sacrifice quality, by value-engineering, and substituting-out the most appropriate products that will be long-lasting & efficient, and (when applicable) will enable the project to meet the requirements of LEED and/or SITES. 4. A consultant puts contractors and distributors on an equal footing by impartially specifying the appropriate equipment for the project being addressed. The bids that are submitted will also be more comparable, allowing the decision-makers to compare apples-to-apples. 5. A consultant is aware of project considerations beyond equipment selection: water/power supplies and consumption, location of upfront equipment (backflow preventer, pump-station, mechanical room spatial requirements) plant watering needs, environmental concerns, etc. 6. A consultant can assist the landscape architect/developer in developing accurate budget estimates. 7. An increasingly common involvement is that of water-harvesting.  An irrigation consultant provides a crucial link with the team in being able to provide early preliminary calculations for anticipated water use/demand. This greatly assists in the planning efforts in the programming phase of a project, in determining water-storage chamber sizes & location, and positioning of the necessary mechanical equipment involved. If you would like to learn more, contact Jim Davis at 314-541-2779 or email him...

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Why Use An Irrigation Consultant For Your Project?

Posted by on Sep 19, 2012 in Blog, News | Comments Off on Why Use An Irrigation Consultant For Your Project?

If your client is considering having an irrigation system installed on a project, hiring an irrigation consultant can be vital to the process. A few points that you should be aware of are: 1) Good, long-lasting irrigation systems can be expensive. 2) An irrigation system is basically a utility, which is costly to modify after being installed. 3) Irrigation controller technology is both sophisticated and ever-changing. Why not just release a ‘performance spec’ and go about it from a design-build approach? This usually results in distributors designing against each other with ‘competitive pricing’ as the dominant influencer. The project manager may not realize that they could be handicapping themselves (and their client) in their quest for a good, quality system by taking this route. First, whenever a sale is an uncertainty, one of the contractors’ biggest concerns will be cost control of their design efforts.  Potential site problems, which may deserve careful field review and analysis, will likely be handled on an ‘assumption’ basis.  And, quotations/bid forms will usually be written so that incorrect assumptions will revert back to the client/developer or general contractor. Second, the contractor’s next biggest concern will be cost of the system’s components. Competing contractors/distributors will usually not suggest the latest, state-of-the-art products to the prospective customer because they will be worried that their competition will undercut them and win the bid.  This is true with whole-good products (sprinklers, drip, valves and controllers), and especially true with ‘allied’ components of the system (pipe, wire, fittings, gate valves). The premium products that can create an efficient and sustainable system (using water-saving products) just won’t make it onto the project.  Even on a non-LEED project, the system could be ‘WaterSmart’ if a Certified Irrigation Designer (consultant) is involved on the project from the very beginning. If the client and/or design team is interested in having an irrigation system that incorporates some of the newer, state-of-the-art products that conserve water and create a high-efficiency system, then the team should consider hiring a professional irrigation consultant for the project. (Not many contractors have the Irrigation Association’s ‘Certified Irrigation Designer’ certification.) The sole aim of an irrigation consultant is to design an efficient/productive system that will fulfill the project’s needs for the long term.  They are not in the business to sell sprinklers, nor are they concerned with the ‘market share’ of manufacturers. Measured against the initial cost of a new system, the money spent for irrigation consulting services may well turn out to be the wisest investment in the overall design/construction process, and a good guarantee that the new system will work for the long term. The irrigation design and consulting fees on commercial projects may range from $1500-$20,000; however, most probably average between $2-4000 per project. On a well-designed system, typical operational savings might be around $2000 per season ($1000 from reduced water-use, and $1000 from fewer service/repair calls). That common scenario illustrates a payback-period of as little as two-years for the services of a Certified Irrigation Designer. If you would like to learn more, contact Jim Davis at 314-541-2779 or email him...

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