Water management is an important consideration for most individuals and businesses. And with a large number of users, each of whom has a wide variety of needs, it becomes even more important for commercial properties. Inefficient usage and outright waste can become commonplace and difficult to detect, and a lack of foresight can make it more challenging to fix the problems going forward.
But along with those challenges are hidden opportunities to improve water management and maximize the resources you already have. Reducing waste and reusing existing water can go a long way in creating a smart water management system.
Landscaping creation and maintenance can use a great amount of water, and at first glance, it might seem like there are limited ways to reduce that usage. In reality, most commercial properties can do a better job in this area, and there are a number of considerations that can make landscaping water uses more efficient.
Plant choices and care. Plants that are native to the area are used to thriving in current rainfall patterns, as opposed to decorative flora that require more water than the area produces naturally in order to stay healthy. Keeping the areas free of weeds is also important since they use valuable water and using herbicides can contaminate the water already in use, which increases your landscape requirements. Manual weed-pulling and raising mower blades to strengthen root growth are a couple of additional simple ways to maximize water usage.
Soil Maintenance. Taking care of a plant’s soil can make a significant difference with regard to its water usage. Using quality mulch (and reapplying it every year) helps trap moisture and retain soil nutrients. Maintaining topsoil captures rainfall and makes it available to plants. And incorporating soil amendments, such as compost, can help reduce the rate at which the soil drains and improve irrigation usage significantly.
Reclaimed water. Using reclaimed water for landscaping needs is not only a good use of existing resources, it also provides extra benefits to the plants that utilize it. Nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen (which are often more abundant in reclaimed water) help fertilize landscaped areas, saving money and resources on two fronts.
While plants and flowers use their share of water, human needs can be even greater, including both potable and non-potable needs.
Water savers. Water-efficient toilets and urinals, sinks, showerheads, and faucets will go a long way toward reducing water consumption without restricting its use for common needs. Water aerators and flush valves are inexpensive tweaks to existing facilities and can reap great savings in monthly water usage. And the use of no-touch faucets and water-free urinals and Energy Star-rated appliances can reduce the need to water even further. While each location has its own needs and uses, many solutions can be utilized by almost every commercial property.
Education. While plants can’t be taught how to use less water, people can benefit from education in conservation methods. If making smart water decisions is a priority, employees and tenants will get the message and contribute to the effort. A mindful adherence to a water savings plan, and an understanding of why some changes are being made, will contribute toward successfully reducing the use of (and demand for) water in several areas of everyday life.
Creative Reuse and Other Tips
With a little creative planning, commercial properties have additional opportunities to re-use or gather water. Regulating water pressure in a facility can not only save water but reduce stress on pipes and lines. Collecting condensation and rainwater can be practical and useful in some circumstances. Sensors on irrigation systems can determine when rain has met a landscape’s needs, reducing unnecessary usage, and optimizing cooling towers can reduce evaporation rates as well.
While no one strategy will maximize a property’s water usage alone, a comprehensive plan will incorporate many feasible options and make an impact on both the environment and the bottom line.
Water Balancing and Feasibility
Even the best conservation methods can’t succeed without a clear picture of where a property stands with regard to water demands and reuse opportunities. A water balance allows property managers and owners to identify needs and availability through current usage and conservation methods. Timing is also an important consideration, as supply and demand change during the year. This is especially true of irrigation, as landscape needs can change dramatically in a matter of weeks.
By quantifying available black water and grey water, which needs to be treated but can be reused, as well as stormwater, rainwater, condensation, and other sources, a property can determine if supply is truly matching up with their needs.
A feasibility plan offers an evaluation of a property’s current situation, and the viability of different projects to improve it. A plan is just a collection of ideas unless they’re achievable and affordable, and a feasibility plan can identify which projects are worth pursuing and which ones aren’t a good fit. Together, water balance and feasibility studies determine whether a property’s plans are working in the real world and whether specific improvements can make the situation better while remaining within time and budget constraints.
Here to Help
Irrigation Technical Services has more than four decades of experience working with developers, engineers, and commercial property owners to ensure that water management is at the forefront of smart planning. Combining experienced professionals with state-of-the-art technology, we can help improve your water management and conservation at any stage of development. Simply contact us for answers to your questions and next steps.
Having a beautiful property takes an investment, an investment of time and money. Whether it is your home, a small property, a master-planned community, ball field, park, or roadway, you are spending good money on sod, plant material, and an irrigation system.
When you make your landscape commitment you need to protect that investment. The best way to do that is to budget for regular, comprehensive irrigation maintenance.
Create an Irrigation Maintenance Budget
Proper irrigation maintenance should be an important part of any site management plan. Not only is maintaining your current irrigation system key to keeping the vegetation green and blooming, but it will also save you money in the long run. Many costly issues faced by property owners or managers could be avoided with regularly scheduled irrigation maintenance.
Having regularly scheduled irrigation maintenance is a proactive way to protect your irrigation system and your plant material. What happens when you have a bad sprinkler head or two, clogged nozzles, a zone does not turn on, etc.? The end result could be a loss of sod or plant material. It is the domino effect because if your irrigation system does not run properly, plants, grass, and trees could die. These items are costly to replace.
Irrigation Maitenance Musts
What should you be looking for during an irrigation maintenance period? It is simple and straightforward. Here are some items that should always be checked regarding your irrigation system during a maintenance visit.
Controller – irrigation technician should check the controller to ensure it is operating properly and that the rain shut-off device is connected and working. You also need to check the programming and make any needed adjustments are needed. Some smart controllers can throw alarms (of issues) that can be seen from the controller itself.
Irrigation zones – irrigation technician should walk each zone and look for any clogged zones, broken heads, etc. and make all necessary repairs. You also need to check for any coverage-related issues. Are correct nozzles being used? Are there are hot spots (areas not receiving enough water) due to poor coverage or lack of coverage?) While walking zones, identify any lateral breaks and make repairs. Does your property have low volume (drip) irrigation? Animals can chew through the drip tubing or weed whackers can wreak havoc as well. These are simple and easy repairs you can make on the fly.
Are control valves functioning properly? If not, why? This could be a failed solenoid or even worse, a wiring issue. Any leaking valves or manifolds? These are issues, if not repaired, that could have an entire zone down or not working properly until fixed. Again, think of dominos and what happens if your sod or plant material does not get water when a zone is completely down.
Pressure – how is the water pressure when running? If pressure looks light you likely have a leak somewhere in the system. It could be the mainline or lateral break (if it is zone line pressure that looks low).
Are there filters and how often are you cleaning them? It’s proper to have a filter on drip zones and these filters need to be cleaned. Some properties have filters before the manifold. Depending on the water quality your site is pulling from, these filters need to be cleaned as much as once per month.
Knowing how to maintain your irrigation system is step one to preserving your lush landscape. Regular, professional irrigation maintenance will identify issues within your irrigation system. As an owner or property manager, it is always helpful to be aware of the landscape around you and to have an understanding of how the irrigation system should be running. Property owners/managers benefit from understanding the generalities of their irrigation systems so they may monitor the day-by-day working of their irrigation system and alert their irrigation maintenance specialist of any problems before they compound into larger, damaging issues.
Commercial irrigation systems cover a much larger area than a residential irrigation system. Commercial systems can be small in size or they can be absolutely enormous. What kind of budget do you have? If you do not have a budget, one needs to be created and funded. Is your system older, relatively new, or brand spanking new? If older, what kind of irrigation repairs have you made in the past, and how does your landscape look? Ask yourself these things and come up with a plan and budget.
Depending on your system and landscape needs, maintenance can be determined. Proper irrigation maintenance can be done monthly, bi-monthly, or even quarterly.
A blooming and blossoming green landscape will leave a lasting impression and is easy to sustain with proper irrigation maintenance.
Contact Irrigation Technical Services now for maintenance on your irrigation systems before the Florida heat takes hold, and your lawn and landscape pay the price.