Nov 20, 2009

EPA Releases Draft Specification for Irrigation Controllers

Release marks first irrigation product to be eligible for WaterSense label

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its Draft WaterSense Specification for weather-based irrigation controllers, marking the first irrigation product to be eligible for the WaterSense label.

Nearly one of every five single-family homes features an automatic irrigation system, for an estimated 13.5 million irrigation systems currently installed in residential lawns across the United States, with an additional 308,000 new systems installed each year. Less than 10% of these systems use weather-based controllers to schedule irrigation; the majority use standard clock timer controllers that do not take into account changes in weather.

When the specification is finalized, homeowners and irrigation professionals can specify WaterSense labeled irrigation controllers that create or modify irrigation schedules to meet landscape water needs based on real-time weather data. Replacing a standard clock timer controller with a WaterSense labeled controller could save more than 11,000 gal of water per year. If every home with an automatic irrigation system were to install a WaterSense labeled irrigation controller, it would save almost 150 billion gal per year across the United States, as well as more than $400 million in homeowners’ utility costs.

This draft specification is the result of more than two years of collaboration among the EPA, numerous stakeholders, and the Smart Water Application Technologies (SWAT) task force, a national partnership of water purveyors and irrigation industry representatives. As the basis for EPA’s water-efficiency and performance criteria, SWAT’s testing protocol marks the first measurable way to test performance in irrigation controllers under a variety of climates and settings.

Once the EPA finalizes the specification, manufacturers may begin submitting weather-based controllers for third-party testing and certification. As with all WaterSense labeled products, controllers will have to undergo independent testing and certification to verify that they meet EPA’s water-efficiency and performance criteria.