Building irrigation systems, wasting water?

Building irrigation systems, wasting water?

7.95 trillion litres of potable water. This is the figure researchers estimate is lost each year in America because of aging and leaky pipes, broken water mains and faulty meters, and a significant portion of this loss comes from undetected leaks from irrigation systems.

For South Africa, besides our potable water spraying many of our pavements and streets, irrigation is another avenue where lose a lot of good, drinking water. Although many corporates have water savings initiatives, this is still an area of concern, in our cities, industrial and urban zones.

Common signs of an undiscovered leak may include:

  • The obvious constant wet spots around the irrigation line.
  • A surprising increase in water usage – even though water use routines haven’t changed – and an equal increase in water costs.
  • There may be intervals of low water pressure.

Some suggestions for using water more wisely outdoors:

  • Water less often but longer. This encourages deeper plant roots and increases soil moisture, albeit at deeper levels.
  • Look at native or indigenous plants and xeriscaping, to create a landscape that is both beautiful and less water intensive.
  • Install sensors to shut off irrigation systems if it starts raining.
  • Ensure the sprayer patterns or cycle match the lawn, garden or decorative shrubs and eliminate watering the driveway, parking or pavement.
  • Maintain sprinkler heads that are blocked by shrubs or other foliage.
  • Install systems to monitor leaks and usage in real time.

Specifically, for buildings (but also available for domestic use), there are programmes that allow the monitoring and detection of possible leaks in the irrigation system, that can potentially cut unforeseen costs due to leaks, pipe or sprinkler damage or aging components.

Although there is an element of change to re-use of water – such as our grey water for irrigation – means that the costs involved in these systems is a deterrent, and it’s still easier to just turn on the tap. When there are leaks, we are losing double time.


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