GARDEN BLOG

California Adds to Drought Emergency Regulations

The State Water Resources Board has indicated its intention to add to the emergency drought regulations enacted in 2014 to combat the current drought we are experiencing.  One of the new items on the prohibited list is:

Using outdoor irrigation during and 48 hours following measurable precipitation

The addition of this prohibition of outdoor irrigation during and for 2 days after a measureable rain event is of particular   concern to many of Gardenworks’ clients.  We are fielding questions such as:

What does measurable precipitation mean?
Can my irrigation timer be programmed to do that?
What if I’m away from my house when it rains?
Can I just shut off my timer and then turn it back on?

There is some concern over the verbiage used in the draft order (it will not be approved until the beginning of May) especially with the word measurable, and just what that means.  But rest assured that there is technology that is commonly used to assist every homeowner in at least meeting the intent of the order regarding this part of the regulation.
Rain sensors or rain shut offs as they are commonly called can be added onto your irrigation controller to automatically shut off the controller after a measurable amount of rain has fallen – even if the rain occurs while the irrigation is on.  The sensor will then keep the system shut down until the wick inside the sensor dries out and watering goes back at whatever the timer is programmed for.  These low priced units can save water and meet the intent of the pending regulation.  They are available for most controllers in a wireless configuration.  A unit installed into your irrigation controller, for example, would shut down your system while you were sleeping if it rained enough to do so.  The irrigation system would then stay off until the sensor dried out enough at which time your regular program would resume per schedule.  The length of time the system remains off is entirely up to the rain shut off unit and depends upon how much measurable rain occurs followed by how quickly the air dries.
Ultimately the sequence of events to meet the exact letter of the order would be to allow the rain sensor to shut down the controller.  You would then turn the controller to the off position and leave it there for two days before turning it back on.  It is our belief , though, that by simply having the unit installed will give you a “get out of jail free” card with your water provider as it believed that only one of these units is installed per 5 controllers sold.  Do you have one yet?