Making Sure You Don’t Overwater

E.B. Boyd by E.B. Boyd | June 17th, 2009 | No Comments
topic: Green Living

It’s summertime. You want to water your garden and lawn so they don’t go brown. But remembering to water is a hassle. So you installed an automated system. Problem is, your system goes off even when there’s a downpour, wasting both water and energy. What to do?

How about an irrigation system that automatically checks the weather and turns itself off when showers are on the way? A company in northern California created just such a system. You plug in information about your landscaping — your geographical area, your specific plants, your soil, and the types of sprinklers you’re using. Next, your system gets hooked up to WeatherTRAK, which automatically tracks local weather conditions via satellites and data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminisration (NOAA). Then it uses that information to make decisions about when to turn your individual sprinklers on and off as needed.

It’s not just some fancy gizmo — it’s already having a real environmental impact. Most landscapes are overwatered by 30-300 percent, says Hydropoint, the Petaluma, CA company that makes WeatherTRAK. That means untold amounts of wasted water every year at a time water is getting more scarce, not to mention wasted energy and unnecessary carbon emissions. Hydropoint estimates that its customers alone — most of whom are large corporate institutions, like hotels and malls — will save 11.3 billion gallons of water, 45 million kilowatt hours, and 60 million pounds of CO2 this year alone.

The WeatherTRAK system isn’t cheap. The controller hardware costs several hundred dollars for residential users, and then there’s an annual subscription price, which starts at around $48. But as with all such eco-technologies, you reap savings in the amount of water and energy you save (though it’s not clear where the break-even point is). And in the long run, you’re helping to save Mother Earth through fewer carbon emissions and less wasted water. Plus, says, Hydropoint, you’ll be keeping your plants happy by ensuring they get just the right amount of water — not too little and not too much.

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