SAWS - Commercial Site Check-up Clarification

To: Irrigation Landscape Stakeholders

From: Karen Guz, Conservation Director, San Antonio Water System

Thank you for attending our “Conservation Conversations” meeting this week. We appreciate the opportunity to share information and to hear your concerns. We will continue to work with your professional associations including SAIA, TNLA and GIA to get additional feedback and to share information with you. In addition now that we have your e-mail, we will share additional updates with you as they are available. Please also e-mail us directly as you have additional questions or concerns.
We wanted to answer a few of the questions that came up that we think needed more clarification.

1) How hard is it to calculate the gallons/minute on each zone? Do I have to add up heads and look up flow rate on the product?
We recommend that irrigators use the meter to calculate the gallons/minute. We find it is more accurate and much faster than adding up the heads and theoretical flow rate. There is guidance for doing this on the saws website :
http://www.saws.org/Conservation/Commercial/IrrigationCheckUp.cfm
We urge doing the gallons per minute check on every zone as you do maintenance reviews of the performance of the zone. It is only necessary to run the zone a few minutes and to record the starting meter read and the ending meter read. This is something to complete during maintenance checks.

2) You mentioned that the top irrigation use sites are a priority for review on the Irrigation Check-Ups. I never see the water bills for my customers. How do I know if some of these are my customer sites? Can I see the list?

Chad has sent communications to all top water using irrigation landscape sites, but those may not be passed on to the irrigator or landscaper working the site. We recommend sharing your client list with Chad Cosper who organizes the Irrigation Check-Ups. He can tell you the meter numbers for the sites you manage and help you find the meters if that is necessary. Chad will also let you know if the site is one of the highest users. We can’t share the water bills with you unless your client authorizes that. But we will work with you to be watching the meter reads and translating that to dollars paid to SAWS. It is our goal to help you reduce those bills for your customers.

3) I turned in some Check-Up Paperwork early. Are you saying I need to do it over now that there is a new form?

We appreciate those who worked on the Check-Ups early. Chad has been communicating with the irrigators who were very early in turning in the Check Up forms. He has reviewed them and if they are complete based on the old guidance, he is accepting them. There is a caveat which is that we can’t process any rebates for sites where we don’t have a gallons/minute on each zone. And of course in the next cycle in 2015 we will need the gallons/minute on each zone. We have only a small number of reports in so far and have spoken with irrigators who are successfully using the new forms now. If you have questions on any of this please contact Chad directly to discuss your situation.

4) Do I need to do a full “audit” for my customers with catch cans and calculation of distribution uniformity?
We have never required a full audit for the Irrigation Check-Up. The extensive catch can tests needed for calculation of distribution uniformity are not necessary for our process. We call the report a “Check-Up” because we are aware that a full “audit” is more extensive and expensive to provide.

5) Do I need to test the precipitation rate for every zone or can I do representative zones?
If the property has many similar zones, you may do representative zone tests for precipitation rates. We understand that precipitation will vary even within a zone. You may obtain the precipitation rate by using the gallons per minute and area being irrigated or by doing a catch can test on a reasonable area. Please use your professional judgment regarding when to test zones because the precipitation rate may be very different. Please note that the gallons per minute is very hard to predict for different zones, so it is best to do the simple meter reads for this information on every zone.

6) What are the benefits to my customer for having the Irrigation Check-Up done? Aside from that this is a rule in city code, why would they want to pay me to do this?
One of the primary benefits to understanding the total gallons consumption of the irrigation system is the ability to predict the water bill each month. Having this information also makes it possible for us to work together to estimate savings from making system improvements or landscape changes. We depend on the information to calculate rebate amounts. In addition we can help you to review the meter reads regularly to determine if the consumption is higher than expected which can pinpoint a problem well before a customer complaint about several months of high water bills.