During the throes of summer, prop- er irrigation practices will preserve the look of your lawns and landscaping, but many facilities are wasting
water with their irrigation systems, and
the costs add up quickly. According to
the EPA, “As much as 50% of this water
is wasted due to overwatering caused by
inefficiencies in irrigation methods and
systems.” Make sure your irrigation is efficient with these four considerations.
1) Proper Maintenance and Oversight
Perhaps the most important mistake
FMs are making with their irrigation systems is overlooking maintenance duties.
They require careful oversight to ensure
proper operation, and if that is neglected,
it can lead to a massive waste of water.
“One of the things we see when we go
out and look at systems that have been in
a while is that they’re in really bad shape
because nobody is really watching them
4 Ways to Reduce Irrigation Costs
OPTIMIZE YOUR WATERING PRACTICES BY ADDRESSING THESE AREAS
regular attention via periodic checks. If an
unbroken sprinkler system isn’t tuned for
the right setting, it will waste a considerable amount of water. Vinchesi notes that
sprinklers irrigating areas they shouldn’t
be – like the pavement surrounding a
median in a parking lot – can be one of
the biggest culprits of water waste.
2) Overhead vs. Drip
The type of system you incorporate is
important to the specific area that you
hope to water. There are two main types
of irrigation systems, each with its own
set of advantages and disadvantages.
Drip systems provide a steadier flow
of water that goes directly into the soil.
When installed correctly, drip irrigation can
reduce water use by 10-20% compared to
a sprinkler system, according to Vinchesi.
However, the problem with drip irrigation
is that it requires meticulous maintenance.
“If you do not have a maintenance staff
that is hands-on, you don’t want to do
drip,” says Vinchesi. “Make sure it doesn’t
have any breaks in it because it’s very susceptible to breaking. It requires a higher
quality of water. It needs more infrastructure in terms of filters and regulators.”
Overhead systems are the more
traditional sprinklers that spray water
above the targeted plants. These systems
require less maintenance for your facility
staff, but they might not be as efficient
with water usage.
Area and plant material are two of the
most important factors to consider when
deciding between overhead and drip
systems. Overhead systems will be better
for larger lawn spaces, for example, while
smaller, more localized shrubs and flowers
might be better with a drip system.
3) Irrigation Control and Scheduling
The schedule your irrigation is set at is
vital to reducing water usage. Specifying
your system’s operation over time has a
major impact on conservation efforts.
“The biggest problem with irrigation is
that people don’t change the schedule. If
you’re in the north where you winterize,
they turn it on in May and leave the same
schedule on until October when they shut
it off,” says Vinchesi. However, you do
not need as much water during the May
or October as you would in the middle
of the summer. “Changing schedules is
important so you reduce your water use
and it treats the plant material better,”
On a more micro level, it is common
for irrigation systems to run on a set
OVERHEAD SPRINKLER SYSTEMS are most appropriate for larger lawns.
and they’re not being maintained very
well,” says Brian Vinchesi, President of
Irrigation Consulting, Inc. in Pepperell, MA.
“In order to save water, they need to be
maintained on a regular basis by someone
who knows something about irrigation.”
It isn’t uncommon for maintenance
staffs to lack the proper expertise in irri-
gation systems. As systems break down
over time, making ill-informed decisions
during repair can have significant ramifi-
cations for the efficiency of your irrigation.
“For instance, a sprinkler breaks, but
instead of putting in the same sprinkler
they took out, they put in whatever they
can find. That’s never good because it was
hopefully all originally done to be con-
sistent so it watered the same,” Vinchesi
explains. “Every sprinkler waters differ-
ently. If you take out a sprinkler and put
in something different, it’s going to water
differently than the one you took out.”
Irrigation requires the facility staff’s