Port Water District Passes Ordinance Requiring Smart Irrigation Controllers

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The Port Washington Water District Board of Commissioners recently passed an ordinance that will require all residents with an automatic irrigation system to replace their standard irrigation timer with a smart irrigation controller by Jan. 1, 2025. The decision adds another important tool to support the District’s already robust conservation program and further preserve and protect the community’s only source of drinking water.

“The ordinance to have residents swap their current automatic irrigation system and standard timer for a smart irrigation controller aligns with the district’s goal of sustaining water availability now and for future generations,” David Brackett, Chairman of the PWWD, said. “Irrigation systems are unequivocally the largest consumer of water in the home and require the district’s average daily pumpage to more than double once they’re turned on.

This amounts to hundreds of millions of gallons of treated drinking water being applied to our lawns, with much of this water being wasted due to inefficient systems. These systems cut back on water waste, keeping water in the ground and money in your pocket.”

Smart irrigation controllers have proven to be effective at lowering water bills while keeping lawns and gardens green. This intuitive technology replaces a standard irrigation timer with a web-based controller that connects to local weather stations to more accurately predict when the system should water and how much water to apply to the lawn. Taking into account past and future rain events, temperature and even soil moisture on some units, these systems can tally up a water savings of more than 30 percent for the average user.

The district typically pumps more than 1.2 billion gallons of water each year with approximately 500 million gallons going to feed irrigation systems throughout the District. Reducing this amount by 20 percent would not only keep hundreds of millions of gallons of water in the aquifer, but would save the district tens of thousands of dollars each year in costs accrued to pump, treat and deliver this extra water. This level of reduction also increases the district’s ability to keep wells impacted by emerging contaminants offline as much as possible while treatment systems are constructed.

“It is truly astonishing the positive ripple effect the wide-spread adoption of this technology can provide to our community and communities throughout Long Island,” Commissioner Mindy Germain said. “It can help address our short-term concerns about using wells with elevated detections of emerging contaminants, long-term concerns with saltwater intrusion, all while saving the district money on treatment chemicals and electricity. The systems are so effective that the expense to make the conversion to a smart controller essentially pays for itself with just a year’s worth of use.”

Several years ago, the District created a rebate program to incentivize the conversion to a smart irrigation controller. The district has made and continues to offers a number of $150 rebates on a first-come, first-served basis to qualified residents.

“Smart controllers typically cost between $200 and $300, and, more often than not, can be easily installed,” Commissioner Peter Meyer said. “Between our $150 rebate and the money saved from using less water, most smart controllers pay for themselves within the first year of use. There is no downside to making the switch.”

If you wish to apply for a rebate on the smart irrigation system visit pwwd.org/conservation/landscape-irrigation-smart-controller-rebate-program-application/.

To learn more about the proactive steps the district has and continues to take to address the detection of these contaminants, visit www.pwwd.org.

—Submitted by the Port Washington Water District

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