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Battling wasted water — one controller at a time

Device helps conserve by collecting data

Posted: March 18, 2009 12:43 a.m.
Updated: March 18, 2009 4:30 a.m.
Nothing drives Newhall County Water District General Manager Steve Cole nuts more than watching sprinklers running during a rainstorm.

"It's frustrating. It's something we all have to do better," he said of water conservation.

Cole and the water district have a weapon to fight that very type of waste. It's called an "evapotranspiration controller," or ET controller.

"It puts some brains into irrigation control so (homeowners) don't have to think about it," Cole said.

ET controllers link to satellites that provide forecasts and relative humidity readings, Cole said. The controllers also collect data on the soil composition and slope of the lawn.

If there is rain in the forecast for the next day, or the soil is still saturated from the previous day's precipitation, the controllers don't turn on the sprinklers and the grass doesn't get watered. ET controllers are a cheap solution to wasting water, Cole said.

The water district's rebate program "covers the cost of most ET controllers," he said. The controllers range in price from $200 to more than $400. The rebate program covers up to $480 or the cost of the controller, whichever is less, Cole said.
One controller is sufficient to control up to 12 sprinkler valves, Cole said.

California Proposition 50 Urban Grant Funds pay for the water district's rebate program.

The program started in 2005, and 46 homes served by Newhall County Water District are using the controller to save water. Since the program began residents have saved more than 2.9 million gallons of water, Cole said.

"This rebate program is part our continuing effort to help customers conserve water and lower their water bills," Cole said.

Homeowners have until June 30 to take advantage of the rebate. But homeowners need not worry if they don't make the deadline, Cole said.
"There will probably be another extension of the program beyond that. This program really works," he said.


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