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Impact of Smart Technologies on Residential Water Use in North Carolina

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  5th National Decennial Irrigation Conference Proceedings, 5-8 December 2010, Phoenix Convention Center, Phoenix, Arizona USA  IRR10-9680.(doi:10.13031/2013.35889)
Authors:   Garry L Grabow, Mayank Nautiyal, Robert L Vick, Rodney L Huffman, Grady L Miller
Keywords:   Irrigation controllers, residential irrigation, soil moisture sensors, water management, water conservation

Several municipalities and water suppliers in North Carolina are interested in the implementation of smart irrigation technologies to conserve water. Some of these entities are interested in evaluating these smart technologies in residential settings prior to adopting any formal policies relating to their use. Two studies are being conducted in North Carolina for such purposes; one in the Town of Cary and another in the Catawba River Basin. In the recently completed Town of Cary study, water use and turf quality were compared between four groups: residences supplied with a weather-based (ET) system, residences supplied with a soil-moisture-sensor-based (SMS) system, residences supplied with guidance on how to program their irrigation controllers, and a comparison group with no intervention; while in the ongoing Catawba River Basin study, a second ET controller group is being included and there is no guidance group. The Catawba Basin study began with a survey designed to assess basic irrigation water use patterns to which over 1,400 residences responded, and continued with cooperator selection and water meter installation. Weather stations and atmometers were deployed to help establish reference evapotranspiration estimates. Water use results from the Town of Cary study showed that the SMS group applied the least amount of water followed by the ET controller group. No statistical difference in average weekly water use was found between the ET group and the group provided with controller run-time guidance. Preliminary water use data from the Catawba River Basin study show an average daily withdrawal (total volume metered/days meter installed) of about 800 gallons for data collected from mid-July to 1 Nov. 2009.

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