Tuesday, September 23, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

City to overhaul its sprinkler heads, other water-wasters

civic poolW

Members of the Davis Aquatic Masters swim laps Thursday morning at the Civic Center Pool, Fifth and B streets. The aging pool reportedly has been leaking thousands of gallons of water per day. Sue Cockrell/Enterprise photo

By
From page A1 | August 22, 2014 |

What’s good for the goose is good for the gander when it comes to the city advising residents on how to conserve water.

Owning up to multitudinous errant sprinkler heads and watering methods that end up flooding fields, washing sidewalks and providing a steady stream for gutters during a record drought, the city has added itself to a virtual list of folks that need some help with conservation, promising a large-scale rethinking and refitting of its irrigation systems.

At the same time, the City Council is due to take up the issue of recent stringent state requirements for residents to conserve water at its Sept. 2 meeting. Passed July 28, those regulations might make it against the rules to wash your driveway or sidewalk with water, operate any kind of decorative water feature that doesn’t recycle its liquid and make it punishable by up to a $500 fine to let those sprinklers run until water floods the sidewalk and gutter.

The council is due to take those new rules into account and see what they mean, exactly, for Davis.

Over time, the Public Works Department will be hunting for old and damaged sprinkler heads and nozzles out of an estimated crop of thousands. According to a recent news release, by next spring the city will look to replace 1,500 of the worst ones with new, more efficient sprinkler apparatus.

But there’s more.

The city is aiming to replace old irrigation timers with new, so-called SMART or central-based controllers that more accurately go along with weather patterns.

So far, 26 controllers have been swapped out in greenbelts and parks, and 75  more will be replaced by next spring. Out of 285 irrigation controllers, the city wants 130 of them central-based. It also wants to install 20 real-time alarms that would be triggered when the irrigation system is using too much water.

With added focus on conservation measures, which the city hopes will drop its water use by 40 percent, officials say they need to hire a water conservation specialist, re-assign some city staff for ongoing irrigation repairs and perhaps expand the landscape contractor’s irrigation responsibilities.

How do you check to see if the new controllers are working? The city says it already has retrofitted several parks, including Oak Grove, Whaleback and Chestnut parks with the new central-based controllers, plus the irrigation systems were outfitted with new sprinkler nozzles and high-efficiency rotors.

Still, there’s more.

Recent media reports have indicated there is a crack in Civic Center Pool that is leaking 7,000 gallons of water per day. Although the city admits some water is being lost from the aging pool, Samantha Wallace, city community services superintendent, said dye tests have been inconclusive as to whether there is a crack.

The Civic Center Pool was built before World War II when the current City Hall was the original Davis High School. However, while the city waits for an engineer to look over things, the pool is still in use, for good reason.

“A pool structure is not designed to go without water for any long period of time,” Wallace said, adding that a dry pool could develop cracks.

While that’s being done, the city also launched a new website called savedaviswater.org and wants locals to submit creative conservation techniques and ideas to info@savedaviswater.org.

Looking to track your own water use? Go to davis.waterinsight.com to get a tailor-made reading — past and present — of your water use and what you can do about it.

— Reach Dave Ryan at dryan@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter at @davewritenews

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