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Well designed and operated irrigation systems can reliably deliver the water your landscaping needs without waste or excess. Photo: AxxLC/Pixabay

What’s Your Landscape Irrigation IQ?

Learn the basics of most irrigation systems, the key components of intelligent irrigation systems, and how to employ low pressure to maximize your system’s efficiency.

Conventional irrigation systems are notoriously inefficient

Conventional irrigation systems can suffer due to poor design, inadequate maintenance, and improper management. Well designed and operated systems can reliably deliver the necessary water to sustain your landscaping without waste or excess.

A shutoff valve (ball valve) can be manually operated to cut off the water supply in the event of a leak, a malfunction, or a major repair.

When activated by an irrigation controller, the anti-siphon valve delivers water through a PVC pipe lateral irrigation line and ultimately reaches the sprinkler head, which applies the water to your landscaping.

Intelligent irrigation systems operate with efficiency

Efficient irrigation components are designed to operate at lower pressure levels, as specified by each product manufacturer. Devices are more likely to fail under excess pressure, and damage can occur.

A pressure regulator will eliminate excess pressure.

A submeter can be installed where the irrigation system tees off the mainline to the house. It is a recommended option for large properties to keep track of the actual volume of water being applied to the landscape.

Single family homes typically have a single mixed-use meter which doesn’t distinguish between indoor and outdoor water use. An alternativeis to install a flow sensor working in tandem with a smart controller.

Low-volume irrigation devices like rotary nozzles and micro or drip irrigation are designed to deliver water to the landscape at a slower rate. This better approximates the infiltration rate of the soil and reduces runoff.

Smart controllers will automatically adjust irrigation schedules in response to changing weather conditions. They come in two varieties. ET controllers monitor weather conditions. Soil moisture-based controllers directly sample the moisture in the ground. These devices also have features like “cycle and soak” functions that can help eliminate runoff. When selecting a controller, look for brands with the EPA WaterSense® label.

This article was inspired by the 71-page Sustainable Landscapes Program guidebook available at The Water Authority and its partners also offer other great resources for landscaping upgrades, including free WaterSmart classes at


Snow Survey Finds California Water Nearly Doubled

California cities and farms can expect ample water supplies this summer after winter storms blanketed the Sierra Nevada, nearly doubling the snowpack average for this time of year, state water officials said Thursday. The fifth and final survey of the season at Phillips Station recorded 47 inches (119 centimeters) of snow depth and a snow water equivalent of 27.5 inches (70 centimeters), the Department of Water Resources said. That’s 188% of average for the location near Lake Tahoe. Just four years ago, then-Gov. Jerry Brown found a field at Phillips Station barren of any measureable snow amid an historic drought.

A Healthy Late-Spring Snowpack

The Department of Water Resources said California’s snowpack is healthy as the state prepares for peak runoff months. Following the final survey of the year at Phillips Station on Thursday, DWR found the snowpack was 188 percent of its average for that location. Statewide, the results showed the snowpack contained 31 inches of snow water equivalent (144 percent of its average for this time of year), which is the depth of water that would result if the entire snowpack melted instantaneously. The information will help water managers across the state plan for spring and summer snowmelt runoff into rivers and reservoirs.

Newsom Says He Has A Fresh Approach To California’s Longtime Water Woes

At first blush, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s latest action on water seems fanciful and naive. But it has logic and conceivably could work. Newsom wants to reexamine practically everything the state has been working on   meaning what former Gov. Jerry Brown was doing and piece together a grand plan for California’s future that can draw the support of longtime water warriors.

Cancer Water? Unsafe Drinking Water Puts 15,000 Californians At Risk, Study Says

Federal regulations won’t necessarily protect you from cancer-causing water in California. In a new Environmental Working Group study published on Tuesday, researchers determined that toxic drinking water could lead to more than 15,000 lifetime cancer cases throughout the state. The report included first-time research on how the presence of multiple carcinogens in drinking water increases cancer risks. Regulators currently assess individual hazards instead of evaluating combinations of multiple pollutants found in drinking water.

Gavin Newsom Officially Kills Twin Delta Tunnels, Eyes Downsized Calif. Water Project

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration officially pulled the plug Thursday on the twin Delta tunnels, fulfilling Newsom’s pledge to downsize the project to a single pipe as he attempts to chart a new course for California’s troubled water-delivery system.

Blueprint To Battle Bay Area Sea Level Rise Focuses On Natural Solutions

A blueprint outlining how San Francisco Bay communities should combat sea level rise was released early Thursday by ecosystem scientists and urban planners who envision a ring of man made reefs, rocky beaches and graded marshlands around the largest estuary on the Pacific coast. The carefully designed features, outlined in the 255-page San Francisco Bay Shoreline Adaptation Atlas, would in many cases replace or bury seawalls, rip rap, culverts and other crude fortifications that experts say won’t hold up as the climate warms and water rises.

Paradise Residents Urged Not To Use Water After Tests Found High Levels Of Cancer Causing Contaminants

Robin Giusti expects to live through wildfires. It’s something that comes with living in a heavily forested area like Paradise, Calif. What she did not expect is the conditions in which she would be living six months after her house was left untouched by the Camp Fire. Giusti and the hundreds of people still living in Paradise (around 26,000 people lived there before the Camp Fire, according to census data), are now dealing with a clean water issue after contaminants were found in testing.

Drought Left California With ‘Zombie Trees.’ Here’s How To Spot Them ­­And Help Them

Zombie trees” sound straight out of science fiction, but don’t worry: Your trees aren’t going to bite you. They’re just thirsty. Although seven years of drought in California finally relented this March, high heat and lack of water have caused a severe decline in the health of some trees, with many now essentially suspended between life and death, Sacramento-area arborist Matt Morgan said. “The whole zombie tree issue came about after years of drought stress,” Morgan, assistant district manager with The Davey Tree Expert Co., said. “They structurally declined and the health decreased to a point where the trees are just there right now.”

Cooler Into California And The Southwest Into Early Next Week Thanks To A Slow Upper Low

Cooler weather and spotty showers will move into California while the Pacific Northwest has sunny, warm days ahead. An upper-level low moving into California this weekend will not bring much rain, but it will cool things off a little bit, especially heading into Sunday and Monday. The marine layer this morning does not appear to be as solid as some recent days. As this upper-level low approaches, it will likely beef up the marine layer some across Southern California Thursday and Friday nights.