Using water wisely is a growing trend, and a new
technology enables users to adjust irrigation controls based on local watering
index recommendations. The WaterDex device developed by Rockrose Technology Inc.
(Irvine, Calif.) is a wireless remote control that bypasses controls and
manages irrigation based on a localized, evapotranspiration-based watering
index, according to a company news release.
Irvine (Calif.) Ranch Water District, through Brown
and Caldwell (Walnut Creek, Calif.), conducted an independent study of the
device. Results show that a majority of customers regularly used and were
satisfied with the device and saw a greater reduction in water use, the news
The device, designed to be easy to use and less
expensive than other controls, includes a dial that wirelessly adjusts
irrigation based on weather and local conditions. Consumers can receive e-mails
reporting the local recommended watering index settings. A wireless remote control
can be used inside the home, the news release says.
With landscaping typically accounting for the largest
amount of residential water use, water utilities have been encouraging
consumers to purchase water-smart irrigation controls. The City of Huntington
Beach, Calif., for example, purchased 200 devices to use in an upcoming
educational outreach effort encouraging consumers to use water more
efficiently, the release says.
Costs top the charts of primary concerns for water sector
The water industry faces the challenges of aging
infrastructure and managing capital and operational costs, according to 2013
Strategic Directions in the U.S. Water Industry, the second annual U.S.
water industry report published by Black & Veatch (Overland Park, Kan.).
According to the report, the industry is focused on
informed spending to stretch limited budgets and extend the life of current
assets. More than 90% of utility leaders expect to have formal asset management
programs in place or in progress by 2016, according to a Black & Veatch
The report represents responses from 397 water
industry participants and includes case studies from the United Kingdom, Hong
Kong, and Singapore. Water loss, at a national average of 20%, is one key
challenge. In addition, nearly 70% of respondents are implementing drought
contingency plans, nearly 60% stated that their customers had little to no
understanding of the gap between current rates and the cost of providing safe
and reliable water and/or wastewater services, and less than 20% of
respondents’ organizations are considering using a public–private partnership,
the news release says.
“Asset management programs will help utilities address
these challenges,” said
Wallis-Lage, president of Black & Veatch’s water business. “However, this
will not erase the large capital needs of our water infrastructure.”
Iowa water and soil data help NASA develop
Researchers in Iowa are working
to provide precipitation, soil moisture, and temperature data to residents, and
NASA scientists are using the data to launch an international
As part of the Iowa Flood Studies
(IFloodS) project, researchers have designed and installed 20 rain gauges with
soil probes in three Iowa watersheds, according to an Iowa Flood Center (Iowa
City) news release. The center and NASA partnered for this project to offer
access to accurate, real-time information via the Iowa Flood Information System
IFloodS is a part of NASA’s
Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission that will measure global
precipitation from space, according to a NASA news release. The GPM Core
Observatory, a satellite that will collect precipitation information, will
launch in early 2014. Scientists are developing methods to turn satellite
observations into meaningful data by measuring rainfall with existing
satellites and rain gauges in the field and using these data for such
applications as flood forecasting and monitoring of water resources, the NASA
news release says.
In Iowa, researchers collected ground data, including
raindrop numbers, sizes, and shapes; the amount of rainfall; and soil moisture
and temperature. Researchers will compare ground data to atmospheric data
collected from NASA’s polarimetric precipitation radar deployed south of
Waterloo, Iowa, the NASA news release says.
IFloodS will help researchers understand the physics
of rainfall formation and growth, the interaction of precipitation particles,
and changes in raindrop distribution. Researchers will input these data into
flood-prediction computer models and evaluate how rain estimates and their
uncertainties affect the outcome of the flood forecast, the NASA news release
“This study is unique in that it takes spaceborne
observations, it takes ground-based observations, and it brings those things
into a modeling framework that should further our ability to predict flooding,”
said Walt Petersen, NASA GPM ground validation scientist.
IFIS provides flood condition information from nearly
275 U.S. Geological Survey and Iowa Flood Center gauges across the state to the
community. Gauges transmit data through a built-in cell modem to the IFIS,
where the data can be viewed through an interactive map and various graphics
online. IFloodS data are accessible under the state overview and rain/soil
moisture gauge option under the data resources tab at http://ifis.iowafloodcenter.org
Stockholm Water Prize laureate has provided water and sanitation
Peter Morgan, director of Aquamor Pvt. Ltd. (Harare,
Zimbabwe), has spent his career developing and advancing simple, low-cost
technologies that deliver clean water and sanitation worldwide. His work has
earned him recognition as the 2013 Stockholm Water Prize laureate.
Morgan has developed many technologies, including the
B-type Bush Pump and Blair ventilated improved pit latrine, that have been
become the national standard in Zimbabwe, according to a Stockholm
International Water Institute news release. He also created the upgraded family
well, which has helped improve the quality of water obtained from wells, and
eco-san toilets, which enable safe reuse of human waste to enhance soil quality
and crop production. Morgan also has developed training and educational
materials that empower people to install, maintain, and improve on the
technology, the news release says.
“This prestigious award encourages me to carry on to
play my part to improve the conservation and supply of this most precious resource
— water — and provide more people with access to clean sanitation,” Morgan
Morgan previously served as chief research officer and
acting director of the central government’s Blair research laboratory in Harare
and advisor to the national health ministry. He has authored more than 100
articles and is president of the Zimbabwe Scientific Association and editor of Zimbabwe
Science News. He also has received the International Inventors Award,
African Ministers’ Council on Water (Abuja, Nigeria) AfricaSan award for
Technical Innovation in Sanitation, and the Rural Water Supply Network (St.
Gallen, Switzerland) award for Lifetime Services to Rural Water Supply, the
news release says.