Part 3: Good Communication Helps Address Irrigation System Issues
Good Communication Helps Address Irrigation System Issues
By Dave Lubach, Associate Editor - February 2013 - Grounds Management
Focus on communication
Managers upgrading their landscapes' irrigation systems also need to communicate clearly with involved parties, both on site and in the surrounding community. In 2011, UT Dallas worked with the city of Richardson to remove an old sewer meter and add irrigation meters on campus.
The new meters provided valuable data on water use and helped identify $49,000 in water waste, which was credited to the university's bill. The university also saved 60 percent in time and operational expenses that it took to process monthly water invoices.
"It's really amazing," Jascott says of the school's strong relationship with city government officials. "You hear horror stories. Some colleges are their own biosphere of activity within a city, and they don't get along" with municipal officials.
The campus has grown rapidly, Jascott says, adding that about 25 percent of the current irrigation system has been installed within the last two years. The system's older parts have not been ignored either, as heads and nozzles were updated recently on 70 percent of the older system.
"We've been pretty proactive in making sure everything has been up to par as far as being able to manage what kind of water we're throwing out there," Jascott says.
Technology helps in the efforts to save water and costs, but in the case of UT Dallas, so did improved communication among maintenance staffers. The university's water-conservation team meets regularly to identify and repair water leaks. A conservation-conscious student body and faculty also remain in frequent contact with the maintenance staff to apprise them of trouble spots.
"We get calls all the time through our facilities' office saying, 'Hey, we noticed a head over here is leaking,' and we usually respond the next day," Jascott says. "We're on top of that. During our monthly irrigation inspections, we make sure everything is working exactly operationally.
"We'll get stuff where (sprinkler) heads spin and systems are running when we're not here at night, and (we'll) get calls from students and/or police or faculty saying we've got water shooting over the sidewalk.
"We either e-mail back or a give a phone call as an immediate response. All my irrigators are on call 24/7, as (I am). Anytime we get a critical emergency that's off-hours, I've got at least two guys that will respond immediately."