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Caltrans District Decreases Water Use by 33% and Recoups $1.4 Million During Historic Drought

“WeatherTRAK’s customer support and exceptional training made the transition to smart irrigation controllers easy”

— Kevin Tong
Senior Landscape Architect,
Caltrans District 12


The California Department of Transportation, also known as Caltrans, is responsible for the California State Highway System as well as portions of the Interstate Highway System within the state’s boundaries. With extremely diverse watering needs, Caltrans District 12 manages more than 2,800 acres of irrigated landscape. In fact, about 75 percent of their water is used for irrigation along state highways. Faced with stringent state water restrictions and the task of maintaining an extensive landscape, Caltrans was motivated to revolutionize their irrigation system. During a historic drought, Caltrans District 12 actively looked for ways to conserve its already limited water supply in Orange County.

SOLUTION: Water smarter with smart irrigation

After researching technology options and rebates, Caltrans selected the WeatherTRAK smart irrigation system. Working with Hydro-Scape Irrigation and Landscape Supplies, Caltrans replaced 342 of their outdated, timer-based irrigation controllers with WeatherTRAK throughout District 12. Within the first 4 months of implementation they saved 53 million gallons of water, a decrease of 81 percent from the previous year over the same period. As could be expected, the water savings continued through the rest of the year resulting in a total annual reduction of 33 percent and over 295 million gallons saved. Overall, the new irrigation system recovered more than $1,400,000 in combined first year costs.

In addition to accomplishing their primary goal of implementing sustainable water conservation practices, Caltrans reaped other benefits with the advanced, smart irrigation system. Operational efficiencies and worker safety improved as a result of using WeatherTRAK Mobile to make changes to controller programs or settings from a cellphone. These simple tasks were previously done at the controller box, which could be dangerous if located along fast moving highways. With smart irrigation, automatic alerts and notifications were sent to mobile devices resulting in fewer site visits and quicker resolution to problems in the field, allowing Caltrans workers to work more efficiently. In addition, the ability to make global changes to all 342 controllers quickly and effciently helps improve overall water savings and drought compliance.