Monday, November 12, 2012

OCP: getting commerical to go smart!

Last week the commercial property portion of the Orange County Project (OCP) went online in Orlando, Florida. OCP is an Orange County-based collaborative effort between Orange County Utilities (OCU), South Florida Water Management District, St. Johns River Water Management District, Water Research Foundation and UF/IFAS to ascertain the water-saving potential of smart irrigation technology. OCP’s residential portion is detailed in a previous entry.

Wherever I go, there you are…
I’ve spent the better part of the past three weeks living in Orlando-area hotels to one end: assist in the installation and programming of eight weather-based irrigation controllers on several commercial properties in Orange County.
These smart timers use rain and temperature data in addition to other zone-specific factors (plant-life, sprinkler-type, etc.) to calculate irrigation run times.
To everyone’s good fortune, the contractor that won the bid for this portion of the project is a first-class group I came to know well during my TREC-based research.

The workforce of nature
And just as they did then, they supplied their best technician from the area to complete this critical work.

By the book
Every effort was made to install the timer weather stations in areas free from shade and obstructions so on-site data informing irrigation can be as accurate as possible.

Wiring goes under the path
~30ft. of wire along a wall

Two on-site weather stations equipped with temperature sensor and tipping bucket rain gauge
And in one instance, submeters were installed to discount other uses of water from the irrigation main on the property.
Timers were programmed using gross precipitation rates for each irrigation zone. This involved physically measuring zone area and zone flow rate and calculating as follows:
calculating gross precipitation rate
And similarly to one of the residential property experimental treatments, all timers were programmed with no day restrictions so that they may apply water as needed.

Down the drain: smart timers are one thing, smart zone design is quite another 
OCU is tasked with gathering water-use data monthly from each of the properties and furnishing it to UF/IFAS researchers.
But wait, there’s more!

Arthropods agree: sound water management benefits everyone
Amidst all the work, I made a weekend jaunt to visit South Florida and then attend the 2012 I.A. Irrigation Show and Education Conference in Orlando! There was networking, discovery and a video shoot, all of which will be detailed in a future entry. Stay tuned!