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City of Santa Monica Adds to “Smart” Irrigation System in Conservation Move


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By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

August 9, 2017 -- In a move to save water, the City of Santa Monica is adding to the new “smart” irrigation system used for its hundreds of acres of parkland, landscaped byways, lawn bowling, Woodlawn Cemetery and other public green spaces.

Staff wants to replace the current irrigation infrastructure, which it says is 15 years old, no longer under warranty and in disrepair in some cases, according to a report by Susan Cline, the City’s director of public works, before the City Council Tuesday.

Her recommendation follows a pilot project started in 2015 at two City parks using “Calsense smart controllers,” which conserve water by automatically adjusting to climate and environmental changes.

Smart controllers -- which collect daily real-time data from a California Irrigation Management Information System (CIMIS) station in Santa Monicaca -- also detect mainline and sprinkler line breaks with the use of flow meters and master valves, Cline said.

Last year, the City replaced 39 old controllers with Calsense smart controllers and saw a related 23 percent decrease in its water usage compared to 2013 levels, Cline said.

Staff found “faster and more reliable and relatable communication between the controller and irrigation technician’s smartphone and the ability to make irrigation adjustments remotely both during and after business hours,” Cline said.

SiteOne Landscape Supply, a Georgia company, has been selected for the additional purchase of 24 Calsense smart irrigation controllers.

The contract is not to exceed $193,163 (including a 10 percent contingency) for one year, with two additional one-year renewal options for the purchase of additional controllers for a total amount not to exceed $493,197.

According to the City’s Water Resources Division, landscaping accounted for 57 percent of the City government’s total water usage.

The City has already cut local water use overall by 20 percent -– its target -– but is still struggling with the long-term impact of California’s extended drought.

The reason is Santa Monica’s main water supply comes from groundwater, which can take years to rebound after a dry period ("Groundwater Supply for Santa Monica Helps Yield 'Encouraging' News," March 9, 2017).

About 75 percent of the City’s water comes from wells. The remainder is imported from the Metropolitan Water District.

The City’s Public Works Department maintains 28 parks totaling 130 acres and 282 landscaped sites such as medians and parkways totaling 92 acres.

It is also responsible for active turf for sports fields and lawn bowling, “passive turf” areas such as the Civic Center and in front of City Hall, plants and trees, and landscaping at 34 City facilities, such as Woodlawn Cemetery and the Big Blue Bus site.


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