This week’s blog is written by Marilyn Hall, Water Conservation Coordinator for Athens-Clarke County.
A couple of years ago I watched as Sanford Stadium, home of the Georgia Bulldogs, went through the Ultimate Sprinkler Spruce Up. The University replaced the old water-wasting irrigation cannon with an efficient system of watering zones and computerized flow meters. With a price tag of about $200,000, it was a lot more than just a “Sprinkler Spruce Up”. An actual “Sprinkler Spruce Up” should be done annually, is simple, and not expensive. There are four steps to a Sprinkler Spruce Up: Inspect, Connect, Direct, and Select. This is what we did at the Clarke Central High School Baseball field for this year’s Classic City Sprinkler Spruce Up.
Before getting started, I knew we needed to find an expert, so I went to the WaterSense Website and found Randy Boatenreiter of Aquatech Irrigation. He is a local WaterSense Irrigation Professional. WaterSense is a program like Energy Star. WaterSense helps people save water with a product label and tips for saving water indoors and out. Products bearing the WaterSense label have been independently certified to perform well; help save water, energy, and money; and and encourage innovation in manufacturing. Irrigation professionals certified by WaterSense can help reduce water consumption, save money, and maintain a healthy and beautiful landscape by maximizing the efficiency of an irrigation system. We did all four steps of the Sprinkler Spruce Up.
Step 1 – Inspect Check your system for clogged, broken, or missing sprinkler heads. Randy went over the whole system. Most of it was in great shape. Only a few heads had been broken or had been turned the wrong direction. The grass looked good because the Spring had been rainy. When I commented on how nice the grass looked, Clarke Central’s Baseball Coach Tray Henson joked, “To be a coach you need a minor in Turf Management!”
Step 2 – Connect. Examine points where the sprinkler heads connect to pipes. Randy did not find any pooling water or large wet areas. That was good news because a leak as small as the tip of a ballpoint pen (1/32nd of an inch) can waste about 6,300 gallons of water per month.
Step 3 – Direct. Redirect sprinklers to apply water only to your lawn or prized plants. Clarke Central Baseball has made some great changes to the field over the years. They made some positive changes to the sprinkler system too, but some things went unnoticed. This is very common when the sprinklers run at night when nobody is around to see what they are doing. Sprinklers that were not efficiently watering grass were adjusted or removed from the system entirely.
Select. Update your system’s schedule with the seasons, or select a WaterSense labeled controller to take the guesswork out of scheduling. The school’s baseball field had an older, but good and reliable timer. Randy assured us that the timer was fine and money would be better spent on a rain gage or soil moisture meter. Randy installed a rain sensor that will shut off the sprinklers if it is raining. He also disconnec
ted two zones that Coach Trey said he didn’t need, and adjusted the zones that were not operating at maximum efficiency.
Conducting a Sprinkler Spruce Up is a big task at a baseball field. It took a few hours to find and fix all the problems, but the payoff will be great. The school will save money on their water bill and the kids will have a beautiful and safe field to play on.
Thanks to Coach Trey, and everyone at the Clarke County School System who helped
us with this Classic City Sprinkler Spruce Up.