Friday, April 6, 2012

Getting “smart”: West Palm Beach & Central Florida!

Recent regional media coverage is shining the spotlight on “smart” irrigation technology. Below are two articles detailing advancements in irrigation controllers and water management and how utilities and municipalities are moving to integrate these advancements into their water conservation efforts.

ET in West Palm Beach

Weather-based timer with on-site weather station

On the verge of exhausting its water supply last year, West Palm Beach is now moving to promote the use of weather-based timers by granting residents installing these devices an exemption from watering restrictions.

Above the law: the Orange County irrigation exemption

Currently, Orange County, in Central Florida, grants residents an irrigation exemption (for posting, pictured above) if they participate in a water-saving study (in collaboration with UF) evaluating ET-based timers and soil moisture sensors.

Some of these residents are using this technology to enhance their watering regime, and others operate them “off the leash,” setting their automated timer to water seven days a week, or programming their ET controller with no watering day restrictions, and relying on the technology to keep them safe from high water bills.

Read more about West Palm Beach's irrigation exemption efforts here.

I calculate GPM, therefore I am

Right: Neptune e-coder, smart water meter

Over the past few weeks I’ve spent several days in Orlando working on what is referred to here as the OCU Project. In fact, last week I saw the sunrise from the highway twice on my way there for early site visits! But more on this in a future post.

Recently, while assessing an irrigation system, I was asked by another researcher (graduate student Stacia Davis) to get the gallons per minute (GPM) information from the home's water meter while she ran the system for zone area measurements. Well, I reached for my hand-held device like I’ve done countless times with the Urban Conservation Unit, and she tells me to take a look in the meter box first because these water meters calculate their own GPM data!

No mess, no fuss: smart meter at rest flashes its GPM rate

Sure enough, every 15 seconds, as the digital meter reads the total volume, it also tabulates and flashes a GPM rate. As this rate stabilizes, the GPM calculation is achieved, sans any subtracting or dividing.

Read more about smart water meter use in Central Florida here.


  1. Nice job Mike! Great work... we miss you here but I know it is exciting to do some new things with all the skills you have.