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Soil Moisture–Based Control Technologies

Residential outdoor water use in the United States accounts for nearly 9 billion gallons of water each day, mainly for landscape irrigation. As much as half of this water is wasted due to evaporation, wind, or runoff, often caused by improper irrigation system design, installation, maintenance, or scheduling.

To help increase water efficiency outdoors, WaterSense has issued its Notice of Intent to develop a specification for soil moisture–based control technologies, which will complement the existing weather–based irrigation controller specification.

The majority of irrigation systems use manually programmed clock timers, where the homeowner, building owner, or irrigation professional is responsible for scheduling watering events and times. Because schedules are often set to water at the height of the growing season, and might not be adjusted to reflect the seasonal or changes in plant watering needs, an irrigation system could be watering in January as if it were July. Similarly, manually programmed clock timers don’t adjust for recent weather events, so systems without sensor technologies will water regardless of whether it has just rained.

Soil moisture–based control technologies water plants based on their needs by measuring the amount of moisture in the soil and tailoring irrigation schedules accordingly. Studies suggest that soil moisture sensors can result in water savings of at least 20 percent, potentially saving millions of gallons of water across the country. Soil moisture–based control technologies that earn the WaterSense label will take the guesswork out of watering and help improve irrigation system efficiency.

Interested parties are invited to provide written comments on WaterSense’s Notice of Intent to label soil moisture–based control technologies. Please send any comments or suggestions to watersense-products@erg.com. Please contact the WaterSense Helpline at watersense@epa.gov or (866) WTR–SENS (987–7367) if you are submitting any data that need to be handled as confidential business information (CBI). All comments, except data claimed as CBI, become a part of the public record.

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Technical Information

Are you a manufacturer or retailer or distributor interested in partnering with WaterSense or finding out more about the development of soil moisture–based control technologies? Please review the soil moisture–based control technologies NOI for more information, or e-mail us with questions or comments.

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