When hiring new irrigation professionals to work with the system, inquire about
their water-efficiency certification or specific training that promotes efficient ir-
rigation. For example, professionals certified by WaterSense labeled irrigation cer-
have demonstrated knowledge in water-efficient irrigation.
Irrigation System Operation
In addition to periodically reviewing all irrigation service agreements to emphasize
the operation of a water-efficient system, verify that the irrigation schedule is appro-
priate for climate, soil conditions, plant materials, grading, and season as follows:
Irrigation schedules should be updated based on changing weather conditions
and as part of regular maintenance. Require the irrigation professional and/or
auditor to deliver options for automating schedule changes based on changing
weather conditions. Installing and properly programming WaterSense labeled
or soil moisture sensors can provide this capability.
Certain soil types or steep slopes could increase the chance of surface runoff.
Irrigation events may need to be separated into multiple applications depend-
ing upon landscape conditions. This is commonly known as a “cycle and soak”
methodology. If currently installed irrigation controller(s) are not capable of such
programming, consider using more current technology.
Generally, it is better to apply water in larger amounts, but less frequently, result-
ing in deep watering. A less frequent but more intense schedule encourages the
growth of deep roots, resulting in healthy plants. Note that soil type plays a role
in creating this type of schedule and should be taken into consideration.
Incorporate a water budget, which can be used as a performance standard for wa-
ter use. A budget provides a specified amount of water that should be applied to
the landscape and can be used as a comparison to the property’s actual water use.
Irrigation systems require regular maintenance to ensure optimal performance.
Consider the following key system maintenance tips:
Require a full audit of the irrigation system every three years by a qualified irriga-
tion auditor, such as a professional certified by a WaterSense labeled program.
IA provides audit guidelines.
A full audit should include an in-depth assessment
of the irrigation system, its performance, and schedule. In addition, the audit
should expose deficiencies that have occurred from either system changes
and/or landscape changes. The audit is an opportunity to identify appropriate,
new technologies as well. An audit should analyze the distribution uniformity
of the system to ensure it is at least 65 percent. A distribution uniformity of
EPA’s WaterSense program. WaterSense Labeled Irrigation Controllers,
EPA’s WaterSense program. Professional Certification Program,
IA. Technical Resources: Irrigation Audit Guidelines.