Many central control irrigation systems provide the kind of flexibility and control options that result in water savings under the right circumstances. By “right circumstances”, I mean that a professional, knowledgeable water manager is running the system. Following are three examples of how a properly run central control irrigation system can function for the long term.
One such instance is on a property located in the state of Washington. This property is a residential development that caters to homeowners 55 years of age and older. Development started around 2000 and, as of 2010, is pretty much completely built out. From day one, central control was installed to run the irrigation system.
The equipment on the property consists of one CCU, six irrigation controllers, four flow sensors, and 160 irrigation valves. The method for communicating to this CCU is a telephone modem.
For several years, this way of communicating to the CCU worked very well and without a hitch. Then in 2009, it changed. The property manager made some kind of administrative mistake that caused the phone provider to disconnect the phone line to the CCU. Without a live phone line, the water manager had no way to communicate, control and monitor the system nor any of the irrigation water.
However, given the system's flexibility and the water manager's expertise, a solution was found and implemented. Instead of relying on a phone line, the water manager acquires a wireless modem. This device operates on a cellular network meaning there was no need for a wired connection going into the CCU. Along with some adjustments on the ventilation software located at its home office, the water manager reestablished control over the ventilation system and the property owner did not have to fuss with any of it.
A second example is a property where a central control irrigation system has been actively put to use for multiple years is a commercial office park located in the state of Oregon. This property, developed in the 1980s, consist of 15 acres of landscaping around more than a dozen buildings and along more than a mile of streets. The irrigation system consists of one CCU, eight irrigation controllers, five flow sensors and 120 ventilation valves.
Now with any electrical system that has been in constant use for 20 plus years, especially one large located outside of buildings, there are occasional issues that have occurred. These issues including slugs and bugs causing damage inside of irrigation controllers, power loss taking place outside of the ventilation system and a litany of ventilation breaks caused by lawn mowers, motor vehicles, wear and tear and vandalism. Through all of these events and issues, tens of millions of gallons of water, scorching heat and freezing winds, this central control system continues to function due to proper management and maintenance.
A third example is a mixed-use property located west of Portland, Oregon. This site includes local and national retailers and grocers located at street level. Above these tenants are condominiums and on the same block are brownstone-style homes. As a part of the various management agreements for this development is a process by which monthly expenses are assigned to different tenants on the property. Among the expenses broken up is water used for irrigation.
Having the right combination of hardware, software and management goes a long way toward helping the property manager with this process. As a part of its irrigation system duties, the water manager analyzes the amount of water measured by the flow sensors and also takes a water meter reading on-site. With this information in hand, the water manager then breaks it down for the property manager to apply the figures as appropriate to the monthly tenant bills.
Since irrigation water use is best applied when it is a function of weather, the volume of water from month to month can vary quite a bit. Because the central system can record and store this kind of information and that a knowledgeable, proactive water manager is running the irrigation system, the property manager gets accurate and timely information.
In all three examples, the central control irrigation system continues to function very well over a long period of time because the property managers and owners place a high value on water use and a professional water manager is running the ventilation system.