U.S. Water News Online
FALLS CHURCH, Va. -- Smart controllers are likely to be
among the first irrigation products to get water-efficient labels
from a proposed water conservation awareness program, says Tom
Kimmell, executive director of the Irrigation Association.
Kimmell attended an Environmental Protection Agency stakeholder
meeting to help shape a voluntary program to label products aimed at
increased water efficiency. The proposed program would be similar to
the EPA1s "Energy Star" program for labeling energy-efficient
"Water Star" seems to be the preferred name for the water-product
labeling program, although it is not officially decided, Kimmell
The meeting last month in Phoenix was to gather information about
outdoor watering for the labeling program as it relates to urban
landscape and irrigation products, Kimmell said.
"I think the consensus of opinion was that labeling of irrigation
and water-efficient products is something that can be done," Kimmell
said. "Labeling irrigation products can be difficult because the
efficiency of irrigation systems isn1t just dependent on products. It
requires proper design, installation, maintenance and operation."
Nationwide certification or "labeling" of contractors could become
part of the program to help consumers know which contractors are
qualified to design and install efficient systems, Kimmell said.
The initial labeling initiative for outdoor watering is likely to
include passive or "smart" controllers because the Irrigation
Association and water purveyors have already been working on Smart
Water Application Technology, known as SWAT.
SWAT promotes "smart" irrigation systems that use sensors or
actual weather data to control watering rather than time-based
systems, which tend to waste water. 3Smart2 controllers generally use
either evaporation/transpiration or soil moisture to schedule
Evaporation/transpiration controllers use weather data and
information about the plants and local conditions to determine how
fast plants lose water and when they need watering.
By preventing over watering, smart systems help prevent
unnecessary leaching of nutrients into waterways and can result in
more efficient fertilizer usage. They save water without sacrificing
Smart technology has been used on public lands and in professional
settings, but the technology is becoming more within the reach of the
The EPA labeling program could also include flow-control
sprinklers, Kimmell said.
Flow-control sprinklers create a consistent output of water at any
water pressure. With traditional systems, the first sprinkler on a
line might over water in order to get enough water to the last
sprinkler with the weakest pressure.
The final EPA stakeholder meeting in April in Seattle will focus
on indoor products. Government agencies were the focus of an earlier
More than a hundred stakeholders attended the EPA meeting in
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