Thursday, March 31, 2011

WUEP irrigation research project – version 2011!

With a new round of funding finally accessible, the irrigation research portion of Miami-Dade County Water & Sewer’s Water-Use Efficiency Program began in earnest this week with a day of repairs - to continue generating data at one site, and prepare another for eventual installation.

A day’s work

With only the bravest of amphibians to keep us company we began the work day at the crack of dawn, making minor adjustments to a homeowner property’s mechanical, city water irrigation system.

This property has elected to participate in this year’s water-saving study and will receive a complete retrofit, with water meters for data monitoring, in April.

From there we moved to resuscitate an older research site. An errant vehicle recently destroyed the backflow device protecting the home’s potable water lines from irrigation line contamination - at once disabling the system and also suspending our data collection.

Expanding the project

The new round of funding also heralds new aspects to the irrigation study. While we continue to focus on potential water savings through the use of soil water sensor technology, the study’s scope has expanded to include “smart” irrigation controllers.

Specifically, we will be monitoring the water-savings potential of a model that uses an on-site weather station (a temperature sensor and tipping bucket rain gauge) and detailed irrigation zone information to estimate and then replenish water lost to evaporation and transpiration (ET) in the landscape.

Further, our contact with different contractors and homeowners since last fall has introduced us to new suppliers in South Florida for all the sundry irrigation equipment we use in installations and retrofits. This should mean sturdier, if not less expensive, installs this year.

…tomorrow, the world!

One additional matter we are very excited about is the recent acquisition of some high-powered computer hardware. The UCU now has access to a brand new iMac! Harnessing this machine's capabilites will both strengthen and refine our video and multi-media educational and promotional work.

Let’s get it!

With three homeowner properties already on board for the study of “smart” irrigation controllers, the 2011 WUEP irrigation research project is full-speed ahead! Installs and much more commence in April. Stay tuned!

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