John Marafino of the Suffolk County Water Authority presents at the smart irrigation seminar. COURTESY SCWA
The Suffolk County Water Authority and the Irrigation Association of New York joined together to hold a seminar for irrigation professionals on smart irrigation devices and techniques on Thursday, September 14, at the North Sea Community House. It was part of an ongoing effort by the water authority to encourage the use of water-saving devices, such as smart controllers and leak detecting valves for automatic sprinkler systems, that save water users money and reduce water consumption.
“We have made water conservation one of our top priorities and speaking directly to the professionals who install and maintain these irrigation systems is a great way to get that message out there,” SCWA Chairman Charles Lefkowitz said in a statement. “These devices are proven to be an effective way to reduce water usage and help preserve the integrity of our water distribution system.”
The water authority estimates that 70 percent of all water it pumps is used for lawn watering and says the demand leads to the need for additional infrastructure. Reducing that demand is critical for alleviating the need for additional capacity that will drive up customer rates, according to the utility.
“Water conservation isn’t just about preserving the aquifer,” Lefkowitz added. “While that is a critical piece of the equation, we are simply talking dollars and cents here. They are saving on their bills now and if we reduce the demand, we don’t need to build additional infrastructure. It allows us to keep our rate increases under control and that will mean real savings for our customers down the road, too.”
The water authority offers WaterWise bill credits of up to $250 to customers who install water-saving devices. With more than three months remaining in 2023, the program has already seen a record year, with more than 1,500 customers participating.
Irrigation Association of New York Trustee Mike Dwyer said saving water and protecting investments in landscapes is what smart controller technology is about. He explained that controllers with Wi-Fi connect to weather stations to adjust irrigation schedules can also have a flow sensor installed to alert users to higher water use in a zone, to identify and quickly address a problem.
Kevin Lewis, a representative for Hunter Industries, which manufactures smart controllers, presented at the seminar. He demonstrated how the devices work, the process to configure them and how they can improve the ability of irrigation installers to help their customers remotely.
One fine body…