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Tallyn’s Reach Authority Eliminates 20 Million Gallons of Water Waste and Avoids $300,000 of Excess Cost

A New Approach to Sustainable Water Management that Reduces Costs, Eliminates Water Waste, and Maintains Healthy Landscapes

Tallyn’s Reach is an Authority in Aurora, Colorado with an 1,800 home community located within its boundary. It’s one of the largest properties in the city and contains diverse landscape spaces such as pool and recreation areas, streetscapes, and neighborhood walkways. Located in a region with a growing water crisis that threatens to increase the cost of water and frequency of drought restrictions, the Tallyn’s Reach Authority began a journey to more effectively and efficiently manage their water usage. 

With the added challenge of maintaining plant health and aesthetics, the Authority quickly realized a new approach to water management was needed to sustain costs and achieve their water conservation goals, while still maintaining healthy landscapes. Aurora Water provided a $275,000 irrigation system efficiency incentive and reset Tallyn’s water allocation based on historical needs specific to their site. The allocation reset also included a recovery fee component, which increased the water rate by approximately double if the annual allocation is exceeded.

Making Water Management more Efficient and Effective with Smart Irrigation

A key piece of this new approach in landscape irrigation is focusing on water management. Tallyn’s Reach faced several irrigation challenges. First, their water billing allocation was based only on their previous usage, so there was a lack of understanding of what efficient landscape water consumption should be, which led to increased usage and costs since the property was developed. Second, they had over 45 acres of unmapped, outdated irrigation infrastructure — a system that included 54 antiquated controllers and approximately 1,500 zones with valves, sprinkler heads, and flow sensors that weren’t being managed or maintained properly. Third, the relationship of irrigation infrastructure and the property lines of the Tallyn’s Reach Authority were not fully understood. All of this created an irrigation setup that wasn’t conducive to efficient water management.

ET Irrigation was hired to take the Authority’s irrigation system to the next level. Their responsibilities included assessing existing control components, developing a controller modernization plan, establishing irrigation zone maps, implementing irrigation management, and beginning flow management upgrades. Brian Bair, owner of ET Irrigation, and his team led the project. The team began by fully mapping all 45 acres of site zones to understand the hydraulic layout of the irrigation system and which water budget was associated with which pipe and water source. 

Controller Modernization was quickly identified as Step 1 for two reasons — first, it offered a more effective way to schedule watering globally across the site and second, it gave the irrigation manager a tool to manage with. Once HydroPoint’s WeatherTrak OptiFlow XR  controllers were identified as the solution, they initiated conversion of the 54 existing controllers to 36 new WeatherTRAK OptiFlow XR smart controllers. These are advanced flow management controllers that use real-time data to understand pressure differences and create flow zones, so that the landscape gets the most efficient coverage possible. Brian and his team evaluated all the irrigation devices and accessories onsite, replacing sprinkler heads and nozzles that were outdated or malfunctioning with new, water-efficient products.

During this project, ET Irrigation worked closely with the Aurora Water staff to determine recommended water usage for all zones based on the specific landscape requirements. As a result of this collaboration, the project received over half its funding — a $275,000 rebate — from Aurora Water. After the full irrigation system update, Tallyn’s Reach has eliminated approximately 20 million gallons of water waste at an annual associated cost of $300,000.

The Path Forward — Xeriscaping and Expansion of Smart Water Solutions

ET Irrigation will be the water manager for Tallyn’s Reach going forward — overseeing the management, budgeting, and conservation of all water that runs through the property. They are now working with the Authority to replace irrigated turf with native grasses and xeriscaping. Three sites have been converted as a pilot, which is projected to conserve 800,000 gallons of water annually. Brian and his staff have also identified another 21 sites that are good candidates for conversion, which would reduce water consumption by another 1.4 million gallons.The Authority’s long-term goal is to convert all non-functional turf sites.

Despite the record heat waves and ongoing drought Colorado has seen in 2022, Brian and ET Irrigation’s management will ensure that Tallyn’s Reach doesn’t exceed their allocated water usage — about 30 million gallons — this year. Because of this partnership with ET Irrigation, Tallyn’s Reach now has a modern, effective, efficient, and manageable irrigation system. The irrigation system improvements, along with more focused water management, allow the Authority to move into the future in a sustainable way. They can now meet their water budget goals, while still maintaining thriving landscapes.