ESI Helps the City of Kelowna to Measure Up
As anyone who has tried to implement a water conservation program knows one of the biggest problems that you face is measuring the effectiveness of the program. There are many ways of demonstrating how much water is used but very few ways of assessing how much water is wasted.
To address this, ESI – Environmental Sensors Inc, North America’s leading developer and manufacturer of soil moisture sensors and control systems, has partnered with one city to demonstrate how understanding what happens below the ground can help to save water by using it more efficiently.
The city of Kelowna in central British Columbia, Canada, has challenged its residents and businesses to reduce water consumption by at least 12% by the year 2012. It has implemented the Watersmart program, which supports a range of initiatives designed to improve the efficient use of water resources by businesses and homeowners. In one program, the city offers a cost-shared arrangement between homeowners who pay for a topdressing of compost and Watersmart, which provides delivery and spreading.
The compost helps improve the soil’s ability to maintain moisture and should result in reductions of water use for irrigation by up to 25%.
There are, however, very few tools available to be able to confirm these figures. As Neal Klassen, Watersmart Coordinator says, “We've been running the top dressing program for five years and have never been able to assess its effect before.”
Graham Howe, Category Sales Manager for Environmental Sensors Inc says, “As soon as Neal explained the program to me, I knew that we had the solution for Watersmart. Our Moisture•Point™ instrument is designed to demonstrate the flow of moisture across a soil profile. We could show Kelowna what happens to their water from the minute it hits the soil, which enables them to assess the effectiveness of their compost program”.
At the start of August 2006, Environmental Sensors supplied a Moisture•Point™ unit and four meter-long probes to Watersmart. These probes were inserted into 4 separate plots at the Central Okanagan Regional District in Kelowna. Three plots were treated with soil amendments: one with Glenmore Grow the compost currently used by Watersmart, one with Waterlok and one with Zeba, both commercially available soil amendments designed to retain moisture at the root level. One plot was left totally clear as a control plot. The plots were then irrigated normally. The Moisture•Point™ instrument was able to demonstrate, in real time, how much moisture was retained around the turf, where it was used by the grass to support growth, and how much moisture went below the roots, to be lost in the soil without adding any value to the plants.
Neil Klassen says, “After only one month, the Watersmart team has been able to draw some immediate significant conclusions. It has been a tremendous experiment. We already understand more about our irrigation system than we ever have before and we are now experimenting with the system to see how we can even better our results. We’re looking forward to seeing how each of the additives works in the coming months, as this will help us to rethink our top-dressing program and see how we can gain better results for our customers.”
Graham Howe further adds “We are very pleased that this program has given us a chance to demonstrate that knowing what occurs in the ground can help cities to make more efficient use of their water resources. We can provide solutions that range from individual sensors that are compatible with most major irrigation control systems up to full sensor based irrigation control systems that enable users to efficiently control their irrigation practices, giving significant savings in both time and resource while enhancing the value of crops”
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For more information contact:
ESI Environmental Sensors Inc.
100-4243 Glanford Avenue
Victoria, B C V8Z 4B9
Tel: 250.479.6588 or 1.800.799.6324