Friday, October 28, 2005

Modern Water Management Success Story: City of Bend, OR

[Sponsored By: WeatherTRAK (]

Achieving Sustained Water Savings

When many people think of Oregon, cool rain forests come to mind. They're surprised to learn that two-thirds of Oregon is actually high desert with very low annual rainfall. That's the case for Bend, Oregon, which receives less than five inches of rainfall during its seven-month irrigation season. Low rainfall combined with a fast growing population is a pressing problem for the City of Bend's water utility infrastructure and landscape maintenance crew.

Bend is the most populous city in Central Oregon, with as many as 200 new water service connections going in each month,” says Ric Olson, large landscape coordinator for the City of Bend. “Our conservation efforts must take a long-term view.”

“We needed to lessen the impact on our water resources – as well as decrease storm water created by irrigation runoff. We also wanted to set an example for the entire region by strictly adhering to the City of Bend's landscape and irrigation standards,” says Ric. Another important goal was sustaining the quality appearance of landscaped areas maintained by the city.

The city's previous controllers failed to accomplish these goals. In fact, they substantially decreased the efficiency of maintenance crews. “While we attempted to fine tune irrigation schedules to follow evapotranspiration needs, the old controllers required time-consuming manual adjustments that overwhelmed our thinly stretched crew,” says Ric.

Looking for a solution, the City of Bend evaluated the smart controllers on the market. The city is a strong promoter of The Irrigation Association's Smart Water Application Technology (SWAT) initiative and wanted to see firsthand how the leading smart controller would perform under their challenging conditions. The city selected WeatherTRAK.

The large number of heavily sloped medians spread throughout the city present a good test for any smart controller. WeatherTRAK passed with flying colors. During warm periods when irrigation run times are highest, WeatherTRAK's built-in cycle-and-soak feature virtually eliminates runoff into the streets and catch basins. “This feature prevents irrigation runoff and sets a positive example for everyone. And because WeatherTRAK automates daily adjustments to the watering schedule, costly site visits are eliminated.”

Ric notes that WeatherTRAK has achieved a notable reduction in overall water use. Sites have decreased water consumption by up to 36 percent. WeatherTRAK has substantially reduced the number of hours for both labor and equipment use, too. “Because we know the controller will adjust irrigation schedules automatically without the need for weekly site visits, staff is now free to give more attention to other critical maintenance requirements around the city.”

WeatherTRAK has proven itself to be an overall winner for all the residents of Bend. “Landscape maintenance dollars are now being utilized more efficiently. Plus, the visual impact and aesthetics of the landscaped areas have improved as well. This is a huge benefit for everyone that either resides in or visits our beautiful city,” adds Ric.


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