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7 water management moves to make

June 9, 2021 -  By
Water droplets (Photo: CT757fan/E+/Getty Images)

Photo: CT757fan/E+/Getty Images

Almost 15 years ago, I was setting up a large weather station for a computer-based irrigation system that would help me manage the irrigation for a large community in San Clemente, Calif. Managing the irrigation for a community of that size was a big task in my new career in landscape management. There were many times I made mistakes while managing irrigation components and water usage. With each error, there was a learning curve and a trip back to the drawing board, perhaps accompanied with an apology when I may have overwatered a park where soccer practice was scheduled.

Fast forward to today, I am thankful for all my mistakes, learning experiences and the innovation of water management. Still, I can’t help but notice that many companies do their best to manage irrigation issues only. With water becoming scarcer globally, states like California place restrictions and mandates to conserve water. It has pushed landscape companies to do a better job of managing this precious resource, but it also creates opportunities.

These opportunities can lead to advantages, such as reducing the cost of labor, improving plant health, using fewer herbicides or applying water-saving funds back into landscapes.

The benefits of water management are great when applied and executed correctly. I’ve used and applied these processes or steps to evolve from irrigation to water management. It is essential to understand that water management is not a product but a process that will differ from property to property and client to client.

1. The first step is making sure you have the resources and knowledge of best irrigation practices. Knowing and then applying are important when evolving from irrigation to water management. Sometimes, a plan on paper looks good but doesn’t correlate to the real world. In my experience, having an irrigation technician execute a program when his or her knowledge is limited can be the difference between a job well done and a disaster. You want your irrigation technicians at the forefront of education and best practices.

2. Pressure-regulating sprayheads have always been a great way to save and help distribute water more accurately. In addition to reducing water use, they also may reduce water damage. Not having to resurface asphalt or repaint stucco is another benefit and reduced cost to your clients. Consistently using one brand of a product also improves quality and makes your technicians more efficient.

3. Property evaluations are also integral to identifying the overall condition of your sites. The information gathered lays the foundation for water management. Assess the current state of the irrigation and establish what the needs are to maintain the site. Give your customers plenty of options toward improving irrigation and reducing water usage. This is usually a process, and it is best to start with areas that require the most water.

4. Develop a water budget based on what they currently have and what is achievable from your evaluation of the site. Water budget goals should be reset year after year due to the changing environmental factors and improvements to irrigation. Forecasting these water budgets can be tricky, but using irrigation uniformity factors or plant water requirements can help.

5. Embrace technology and start applying it as much as you can. At Harvest Landscape Enterprises, I share the same vision about technology and water management with CEO Steven Schinhofen. The ability to be innovative by using and creating apps, software and hardware to manage better is a recipe for success. Smart controllers like HydroPoint WeatherTrak will help manage the water efficiently while also reducing labor costs in the field. With a smartphone or computer, I can manage what would have taken a team of technicians to do in the past.

6. Communicate with clients, vendors and your team. Always be transparent and realistic about what’s achievable and what isn’t. I’ve seen situations where the contractor overpromised and underdelivered, and it doesn’t bode well for business. Listen to the clients’ concerns, analyze, formulate solutions, execute and then maintain. The process is dynamic, but the goal is always the same.

7. Lastly, when you evolve toward water management, enjoy the accomplishment and encourage others. Not only is the work rewarding, but it’s also the right thing to do for our environment.

About the Author:

Max Moreno is the vice president of water conservation with Harvest Landscape in Orange, Calif.

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