City of South San Francisco – Over the past two years the City of South San Francisco has taken stringent measures to reduce water use at city-maintained landscapes and public facilities, resulting in a 57% reduction in municipal water use since 2013. The City discontinued irrigation in turfed medians and for established shrubs and groundcovers, replaced water-intensive landscapes, installed bioswales to allow rainwater to seep back into the ground and expanded the use of mulch to conserve soil moisture. The City also partnered with the Bay-Friendly Landscaping & Gardening Coalition to train Parks Division staff, totaling 27 supervisory and maintenance personnel, in an intensive, four-session training program. The course focused on storm water management, soil health, irrigation, plant care, integrated pest management and tree care. 33 landscape professionals from other public agencies, as well as private sector commercial landscape companies, also participated.
County of Santa Clara – The County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors is recognized for its leadership in water conservation policies and practices. Under the direction of the Board, the Facilities Department recently teamed up with the Probation Department to design an outdoor recreation area for youth at Juvenile Hall. Over 13,000 square feet of turf was converted to a pleasant landscaped area with picnic tables, permeable pathways, drought-tolerant and native plants, and drip irrigation. The walking paths were designed to reduce storm water runoff and recharge groundwater. The Facilities Department, County Integrated Pest Management Program and Department of Correction’s Weekend Work Program partnered to convert an additional four acres of turf to drought-tolerant landscaping. The Sustainability in Jails program at Elmwood Correctional Complex launched a special curriculum that introduces inmates to the water cycle, soil health, composting, drought tolerant landscaping, and water-efficient irrigation systems. Both programs aim to reduce recidivism while the participants gain sustainable landscaping job skills. As a result of the County’s programs, 33 million gallons of water have been saved. In addition the County has increased its use of recycled water for irrigation and cooling purposes by 40% since 2009, conserving 13.5 million gallons of potable water. The County’s commitment to a sustainable community is reflected in its own practices and its public policy, programs and services. Last year the Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution urging all residents and businesses to voluntarily reduce water use by 20%. More recently, the Board adopted an ordinance encompassing residential water conservation and usage in unincorporated areas.
Middlebrook Gardens – Located in San Jose, Middlebrook Gardens creates gardens featuring native plants and healthy landscapes that allow for minimal disruption of the water cycle. Features included drip irrigation, downspout diversion, living roofs, aquaponics, perennial edibles, porous hardscapes, constructed wetlands, greywater systems and garden swales. They have designed and built over 500 gardens for residential, commercial and school clients. Middlebrook Gardens also hosts the California Native Garden Foundation (CNGF) and the Environmental Laboratory for Sustainability and Ecological Education (ELSEE). These programs educate students and the community about sustainable, urban gardening. ELSEE oversees an internship program with Santa Clara University, San Jose State University, Stanford and UC Davis, focusing on teaching water conservation, watershed stewardship, water reuse, and water cleansing to K-12 and university students. Each year CNGF works with approximately 75 interns, and awards garden grants to schools, and ELSEE is developing a model garden program at 25 public and private schools throughout California this year.
East Side Union High School District – An early adopter of reclaimed water for landscape irrigation, the District has reduced its use of potable water for irrigation by 30%, conserving 67 million gallons of potable water per year. District groundskeepers also chip tree trimmings and use the mulch to reduce surface evaporation. The District has converted 11 football fields to synthetic turf, conserving 75 million gallons of water per year. In the process, the District has saved more than $243,000 per year in avoided water, chemical and labor costs, and the fields are available for play across all hours of the day and in all weather conditions. In 2012, the District replaced 61 toilets with water efficient models and retrofitted 216 urinals with low flow flush valves, conserving over 31,000 gallons of potable water annually.
Waterfluence helps large urban landscape sites improve irrigation efficiency through customized water use reports, innovative communications and reports ranking public parks departments and landscape maintenance firms with respect to irrigation performance. Waterfluence currently serves 2,000 sites in California. In collaboration with local water agencies, Waterfluence creates a scientifically derived water budget for each large landscape site based on the amount of irrigated area, type of plants, type of irrigation system and real-time weather monitoring. Monthly reports documenting the site’s irrigation performance are distributed to site managers, landscapers, HOA board members and other relevant parties. Analysis has shown that the Waterfluence program has reduced over-watering at participating sites by 26%.
ET Water Systems has developed a comprehensive irrigation management system that incorporates smart irrigation controllers, wireless connectivity, real-time weather data, cloud-based servers and web services. Using these components, along with constantly updated evapo-transpiration (ET) science and plant irrigation requirements, the ET Water system uses up to 50% less water than conventional controllers. As a result, ET Water saves its many Silicon Valley clients more than 315 million gallons of water per year. In addition to its original award winning smart controllers, ET Water has released a number of accessories and retrofit products that allow users to convert their conventional landscape irrigation systems into “smart” systems capable of communicating with ET Water's servers and weather-based irrigation management solutions. HermitCrab, their newest product, can be installed in less than 10 minutes and is priced at approximately 35% of a fully configured ET Water smart controller.
The Campbell Union School District participated in a water use audit conducted by the Santa Clara Valley Water District and ended up replacing ordinary manual irrigation timers with 45 WeatherTRAK™ smart controllers at 12 sites/schools, including several athletic fields and large turf areas. The WeatherTRAK controllers apply precise amounts of water only when the landscape needs it, calculating customized irrigation schedules based on programmable parameters for soil type, sprinkler head model and plant variety. These schedules are automatically adjusted based on microclimate weather data. As a result, the District reduced annual landscape water use by 39%, saving more than 35 million gallons of water and realizing $108,000 in savings last year.
ValleyCrest Landscape Maintenance helped its Silicon Valley clients save more than 2.3 million gallons of water per day through improved landscape management.
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