Volume 23, Issue Number 3, Spring 2018
Environmental/Utilities Issues


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Bringing an Underground Issue to the Surface

Condominium Boards Don't Know When There's a Leak or How Much Water the System is Wasting

By J. Comacchio | Other articles by J. Comacchio

With all of the technology available today, is it still possible that property managers don't know when there is a leak in their irrigation system or how much water the system is actually consuming?

The answer is yes. Irrigation systems can sometimes miss the mark on control and scheduling, and, over time, these inefficiencies lead to unnecessary and expensive water waste. Choosing the right irrigation contractor is imperative to properly managing and maintaining your irrigation system. A Water Smart Irrigation Professional will help you get the most out of your irrigation system while maintaining beautiful curb appeal and lowering your system's water consumption and costs.

Water Smart Irrigation Professionals

Water Smart Irrigation Professionals (WSIP) are industry leaders committed to sustainable irrigation management. They have received specialized training in irrigation system efficiency, assessment and maintenance services, and are certified by Landscape Ontario. The training and certification program was developed and is delivered by the Region of Peel, the Regional Municipality of York, and Landscape Ontario.

The WSIP training and certification program focuses on delivering irrigation assessments using a progressive approach coupled with an intuitive software program. This approach shortens the amount of time required to conduct a full irrigation assessment and the software helps the WSIP determine proper zone run times.

A WSIP assessment can provide you with a holistic view of your irrigation system by highlighting:

  • how much water your system is using;
  • how much water is required for your landscape;
  • costly leaks;
  • what volumetric and financial savings can be achieved from installing efficient hardware and central control with a return on investment (ROI).

Central controllers improve system efficiency by accessing real time flow data and weather information, enabling them to foresee future weather patterns and adjust watering schedules accordingly. By accessing flow data, the controller is also able to identify leaks and stop the flow to the irrigation system when leaks are detected. Data from the central controller is fed daily to the irrigation contractor or property manager, allowing them to remotely monitor system performance and quickly identify issues.

Results

The potential for a WSIP assessment and identified irrigation efficiencies to lower the bottom line at your site is significant. Peel Region alone saw an average water savings opportunity of 59% per site, with the majority of savings coming from updating irrigation schedules and installing a central controller. The case for installing a central controller is strong, with the controller alone resulting in approximately 30% water savings.

This was well demonstrated at 60 Via Rosedale in Brampton, Ontario, when in 2014, WSIP certified contractor SMART Watering Systems (SWS) performed an irrigation assessment at the address. Despite the relatively new irrigation system, SWS found several opportunities for system improvements, including the installation of central control, leak repair, schedule updates, and zone hardware upgrades. All findings and recommendations, along with calculated ROI, were presented in a report to the Via Rosedale property management team, who decided to proceed with the recommended changes to make their system as efficient as possible.

"The property management team worked with SWS in an effort to reduce water use and improve water distribution on a 1 year old irrigation system. SWS made the process easy. They performed the irrigation assessment and provided recommendations for infrastructure improvement. After the required implementations were completed I have seen a reduction in water use and the health of the landscape has improved."
– Palmina Maccari, Property Manager at Rosedale Village

Now that the changes have been made, Via Rosedale has experienced a confirmed water savings of 72%. The landscape is also healthier and looks better because the proper amount of water is now being used. Like many systems, the Rosedale irrigation system was using more water than needed due to poor spacing between heads, mixed nozzles, or pressure that is too high or too low. By improving each zone's efficiency and determining how much water was actually needed for each zone, the watering run times were reduced. Overwatering is not just an issue unique to Via Rosedale; in fact, overwatering was identified as an issue in 90% of all assessments conducted within the Region of Peel.

The following table shows the irrigation water usage from Via Rosedale.

Year Action Water Usage Per Year (m3) Cost Savings Per Year From 2015 ($2.31/m3)

2015

Initial Assessment

3,903 m3

 

2016

Efficiency Upgrades and Adjustments Completed

Schedule was adjusted and tailored to the landscape

Leaks were fixed

Zone hardware was upgraded in zones presenting the lowest ROI

Central controller with flow sensor and master valve was installed

1,362 m3

$5,870

2017

Maintenance and Monitor

(Due to a larger amount of rain in 2017 the system did not water as much and greater savings were achieved.)

1,111 m3

$6,450

The installation of a central controller at the Via Rosedale property allowed SWS to provide real time data and reports to property management to show exactly how much water was being used for irrigation. This technology served to identify two small leaks in 2016. The early detection of these leaks allowed SWS to address them before significant water was wasted.

Demand is Growing

The demand for WSIP services is growing as property managers look to find new and creative ways to accommodate shrinking budgets while maintaining corporate sustainability goals.

Each year, the average condominium property in the GTA uses two (2) million litres of water for irrigation. With WSIP assessments and system improvements, many of these condominiums now have the potential to experience savings of upwards of 50%.

Since the first cohort of WSIP contractors was certified in 2014, over 250 irrigation assessments have been completed. Large corporations such as Orlando Corporation are also seeing the benefit. This year, the Orlando Corporation had 51 of their Region of Peel sites assessed by WSIP certified contractor Burtro Lawn Sprinklers. The assessments identified a total potential water savings of 168,340 m3 of water perseason, which equates to $389,000 and an ROI of less than two (2) years. Burtro has already installed a central control system and created a custom watering schedule at each of the 51 sites, and will complete the zone upgrades in 2018.

Be a leader and find out how much your system is actually using. Start achieving your sustainability goals and improve your bottom line by booking a WSIP assessment in 2018.

For more information about the program and for a list of WSIP certified contractors visit: www.watersmartirrigationprofessional.ca

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Spring 2018
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