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Utah’s 2nd Largest School District Chooses Smart Irrigation to Cut Water Use

Davis-Case-Study_left

“After we installed WeatherTRAK
smart irrigation controllers, it was as if
we hired a couple of new employees
to help out.”
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— Mark Hurd
Grounds/Irrigation Foreman,
Davis School District

CHALLENGE

Davis is the second largest school district in Utah. Comprising 93 schools and 14 additional sites with over 2,000 acres of turf, flowerbeds, and natural grass, this rapidly growing district struggled to balance enrollment growth, funding cuts and the state’s increased water restrictions.

A few years ago, Utah was hit by drought and the maintenance team was forced to adjust. In the middle of football season, the irrigation water supply was shut off three weeks earlier than usual. Even before the drought, the district’s energy committee started to take note of soaring water costs and directed a 25% cutback.

SOLUTION: SMART IRRRIGATION PILOT

That prompted Mark Hurd, grounds and irrigation foreman for the Davis School District, to begin researching options. With the help of Utah-based Sprinkler Supply Company, he discovered WeatherTRAK® smart irrigation controllers. During a WeatherTRAK pilot program at one of the elementary schools “we saved 1.6 million gallons of water in the first 90 days, which equated to a 38% water savings at that one site,” notes Hurd, adding that the landscape was “just as pretty, if not prettier.”

Eventually, WeatherTRAK was installed at district’s other 16 sites using culinary water and within 23 months they derived a significant return on investment in water savings, Hurd says.

With only three full-time irrigation technicians on staff, WeatherTRAK also enables Hurd’s team to be more efficient. “With so many sites spread over a large area, we weren’t able to be as efficient as we needed to be, often logging many overtime hours, never keeping up, and wasting water in the process. We often felt like on-call firemen fielding emergency calls, rushing into our trucks, and driving up to an hour and a half to fix irrigation problems,” says Hurd.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • 35% reduction in water consumption within the first 90 days
  • 1.6 million gallons of water saved annually
  • $50,000 in labor savings and $78,000 in water savings annually
  • System payback in 2 months

With WeatherTRAK, his staff receives a morning report which is used to map out the day’s workload.“They know what they have to repair instead of waiting for a couple of weeks wasting hundreds of thousands of gallons of water because we didn’t know the head was broken,” says Hurd, adding, “The public will really let us know quickly if there is a head broke and there is water running down the gutter.”

WeatherTRAK smart controllers, cloud-based software and mobile app helped not only reduced water waste and improve the health of their turf and plants. It also replaced in-the-field modems, radios and IP addresses, which helped achieve staff operational efficiencies. The maintenance staff no longer had to be firemen always putting out fires with 489 fewer site visits during the first 12 months. In one field emergency instance, Hurd was automatically alerted and able to turn off the sprinklers from his iPad at home instead of leaving his family and logging overtime hours.

The Davis School District also uses HydroPoint’s flow sensor technology on many of its systems. “If I get a high-flow situation, WeatherTRAK will detect that high flow and shut it down,” notes Hurd.

WeatherTRAK smart irrigation management enables them to save as much water as possible, redirect money back into their classrooms, and streamline landscape maintenance. Paul Barnes, Director of Utility Services, refers to WeatherTRAK as “the water efficiency solution that transfers taxpayer dollars from wasteful landscape water use to valuable district resources.”