The Laramie High School campus in Albany County presented problems for Chris Rank, the school’s irrigation manager. Several of their irrigation zones didn’t function correctly and irrigation practices didn’t account for specific needs of the site being watered. Most importantly, they did not have a way to easily identify or troubleshoot these issues.
Daniel Minton, landscape manager for Albany County School District No. 1 started looking for a smarter irrigation system. Ideally, the system could be controlled and troubleshot without sending people into the field verify to the outcome. Because school district funds were scarce, the system would have to pay for itself quickly to justify the investment.
A team of experts from HydroPoint reviewed three of the county’s school sites and estimated potential water savings of 18%, or $26,000 per year. After installing Hydropoint’s WeatherTRAK smart irrigation controllers, site-specific evapotranspiration (ET) weather data determined the most efficient watering strategy. Additionally, the school district installed new flow monitors that automatically shut off water when excessive amounts of water flowed through them, as that could indicate a leak or a break in the system.
Using the new smart irrigation system, the district was able to control and troubleshoot remotely using a mobile device. The system also considered site specific information, such as topography, to calculate irrigation schedules. At one site, sprinklers were placed at the top and bottom of a hill on a practice field north of the old football stadium. Setting those controllers to water that area over several short intervals allowed water to soak in as it flowed downhill. On the other hand, a single long interval would result in water running downhill and pooling at the bottom.
Best of all, the WeatherTRAK system paid for itself within 16 months, without impacting the health of the schools’ turf.