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Recent rainfall brings up water worries

Posted: June 23, 2013 - 12:08am
At Ewing Irrigation, Travis Lackey shows some monitors that can be attached to an irrigation system to prevent it from coming on while it's raining.  Photo by Jim Blaylock
Photo by Jim Blaylock
At Ewing Irrigation, Travis Lackey shows some monitors that can be attached to an irrigation system to prevent it from coming on while it's raining.

There’s nothing more frustrating for water conservationists than to see a sprinkler running during or just after a rain shower. One local company recently discussed options to ensure that sprinkler systems don’t come on when they aren’t needed.

Smart irrigation – the concept of saving on outdoor water use – is not new. In fact, Georgia code 12-5-6 requires that rain sensor shutoff switches be installed on all irrigation systems installed after Jan. 1, 2005.

A number of devices can help with water conservation, including a rain sensor.

“A rain sensor is a device that is put on the eve of the house and when it gets wet, trips the irrigation system so it doesn’t come on,” said Travis Lackey, manager of Ewing Irrigation in Grovetown.

To maintain a healthy look, normal, warm-season turfgrass needs only an inch of water a week. “Lots of people water whether they need to or not,” said Lackey, who notes that 50 percent of landscape irrigation water used is wasted.

Excessive watering can cause the roots to grow nearer the surface and be damaged in hot or cold weather. “Grass should be able to last about two weeks without watering,” said Lackey.

Soil moisture sensors also help determine whether a lawn should be watered. Soil moisture sensors are encased electrodes that go into the ground. Wired to the sprinkler system, the sensor will override a system if the ground is wet enough.

Yet another option for water conservation, the EvapoTraspiration controller – or ET controller, works to switch run times based on rainfall conditions. Although the best water-saving product on the market, the ET controller is also the most expensive.

Irrigation specialists celebrate smart irrigation month in July by offering water-saving devices at a discount.

For those who don’t want to invest in a smart irrigation device, Lackey said monitoring a rain gauge will do the job.

“Just override or turn off the sprinkler system if it has recently rained – or rain is in the forecast – if more than an inch of rain has fallen,” he said.

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