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January 27, 2021   
May 29, 2006 

The Irrigation Industry’s Biggest Challenge – Water Availability

Despite the many positive influences, such as increasing home building and remodeling investments, that will continue to drive the irrigation industry’s growth into the next decade, there is one big challenge irrigation contractors face – water availability.

At the Hunter Irrigation Industry Forum in San Marcos, Calif., Jeff Carowitz, senior consultant with Strategic Force Marketing, San Marcos, Calif., shared the reasons water availability is a challenge for contractors and offered some solutions to this potential business-limiting factor.

First, water is a challenge for irrigation contractors because there are reduced reserves, with home development actually contributing to this dwindling supply, Carowitz says.

There is also inadequate infrastructure surrounding water. “Municipal systems are aging, causing loss and leakage in water mains that can exceed 60 percent,” Carowitz explains. As far as new home developments and office parks are concerned, “there are limited capital funds available to construct larger mains to serve these new areas,” he adds.

Because water is in such high demand, utilities are practicing demand control in the form of water restrictions, also challenging irrigation professionals by limiting their ability to install systems and creating confusion in the marketplace, Carowitz points out.

Carowitz presents five strategies contractors can consider to ensure water availability is not a huge issue for their businesses this year and for years to come.

SOLUTION #1 – Promote Rain Sensors. Rain sensors can reduce water waste from systems running in the rain and are low-cost devices, Carowitz points out.

SOLUTION #2 – Promote Proper Scheduling. Encourage customers to schedule the controller properly by applying irrigation water to match soil intake rates. “This can reduce water waste and storm water pollution,” Carowitz explains.

SOLUTION #3 – Promote Weather-Based Control. Weather-control solutions, such as ET-based controllers and centralized irrigation controls, allow watering only when the weather dictates, naturally promoting reduced water use. “The industry needs to promote positive incentives for property owners to upgrade their existing technology to include these new water-saving devices,” Carowitz urges.

SOLUTION #4 – Smarter Systems. Carowitz says contractors should push new systems to their customers that integrate the latest in water conserving technology, including pressure regulation, low precipitation sprinklers (rotary type), flow sensors that turn off systems if there are broken sprinklers or pipes, and smart weather-based controls.

SOLUTION #5 – Reclaimed Water. The use of treated reclaimed water reduces discharge of wastewater into streams and oceans and is less costly and uses less energy than potable water, Carowitz points out. “This has proven successful in many municipalities already that have switched to reclaimed water,” he says.

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