Water World: Water-saving success

May 13, 2019 -  By

Location: Palo Alto, Calif.
Company: Gachina Landscape Management

A well-planned irrigation system is never more important than during a drought. With water conservation in mind, Gachina Landscape Management renovated Oak Creek Apartments’ irrigation system. It was California’s worst drought in decades, but the Gachina team helped Oak Creek take advantage of a $50,000 rebate from the Santa Clara Valley Water District for the renovation.

When replacing more than 25 old solenoid valves, the team discovered the old controllers were being damaged by a high current. The property’s 28 outdated controllers were replaced with HydroPoint WeatherTRAK Pro3 smart controllers, which prevent high-current damage with alerts.The system’s 162 valves pull water from a single 4-inch point of connection. Because of the limited water supply, Gachina also had to consider the potential lack of water pressure.

Focusing on a sustainable landscape, Gachina crews installed new inline drip irrigation. Crews also removed 20,000 square feet of turf from the property and in its place installed native plant material with a heavy layer of mulch for soil moisture retention. Within 18 months, the property saved nearly 5 million gallons of water, a 16 percent difference compared with the old irrigation system.

Irrigation technology (Photo: Deborah Harkins, HydroPoint)

Photo: Deborah Harkins, HydroPoint

TECH TIME After installing up-to-date products, crews at Gachina ensured new technology was being used to its full advantage. The WeatherTRAK mobile app provides the crews real-time data and information about the irrigation system through email.

Oak Creek Apartments (Photo: Ana Ruth Larios)

Photo: Ana Ruth Larios

COLLABORATE The partnership between Gachina Landscape Management, Oak Creek Apartments’ management, HydroPoint and the Santa Clara Valley Water District was critical in this water-saving project.

Valve (Photo: Chad Sutton, Gachina Landscape Management)

Photo: Chad Sutton, Gachina Landscape Management

DIG IT UP This old Rain Bird valve from the ’60s was part of the original equipment installed more than 50 years ago. In order to identify the valve, Gachina crews had to remove it and ship it to Rain Bird.

Native plant material (Photo: Sam Anderson, Gachina Landscape Management)

Photo: Sam Anderson, Gachina Landscape Management

WATER WORKS Drought-tolerant plants were chosen based on the Santa Clara Valley Water District’s landscape conversion rebate program requirements. Crews installed drip irrigation, which distributes the right amount of water at the right time.

Photo: Ana Ruth Larios

Photo: Ana Ruth Larios

Here is a photo of some of the plant material used on the property before the renovation.

Photo: Gachina Landscape Management

Photo: Gachina Landscape Management

Frayed wiring and loose connectors were discovered and replaced.

Photo: Deborah Harkins, HydroPoint

Photo: Deborah Harkins, HydroPoint

Crews removed 20,000 square feet of turf from the property in order to receive a rebate.

Photo: Gachina Landscape Management

Photo: Gachina Landscape Management

One of the outdated controllers that was replaced.

Photo: Ana Ruth Larios

Photo: Ana Ruth Larios

Native plants helped the property better manage water use.

Photo: Gachina Landscape Management

Photo: Gachina Landscape Management

Crews spent time digging up the old equipment and discovered problems that effected the irrigation system as a whole.

Photo: Deborah Harkins, HydroPoint

Photo: Deborah Harkins, HydroPoint

Efficient irrigation at the property aligned with the restricted water schedule at the time due to California’s drought.

Photo: Gachina Landscape Management

Photo: Gachina Landscape Management

Along with the native plant material, mulch was installed for better moisture retention.

Danielle Pesta

About the Author:

Danielle Pesta is the associate editor of Landscape Management. She started writing for the green industry in 2014 and has won multiple awards from the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA). She can be reached at dpesta@northcoastmedia.net.

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