Taylor Irrigation Service, Inc. and the community of Afton Oaks are raising the bar for Houston’s adopt-an-esplanade program by using state of the art technology that promotes the healthiest landscape possible while reducing water consumption as well as electricity.
When Afton Oaks’ Lynn Quinley first contacted Taylor Irrigation Service about irrigating the three esplanades on Richmond, not far from the Galleria, the goal was to water the gorgeous old trees that dot those esplanades but right from the start their partnership began raising the bar. “We took the project because it was a great opportunity not only to serve the needs of the Afton Oaks community but to change the way irrigation is looked at here in the Houston area,” said Taylor Irrigation owner, John Taylor. “A report out of Texas A&M a few years back showed that the average acre of irrigated Texas landscape is over-watered by more than two hundred percent. When it comes to esplanades that is tax-payers dollars at work so we need to be especially conscientious of how sprinkler systems are designed, installed and maintained.”
Mr. Taylor went on to say that this sort of technology is not new but is not yet used regularly. “The technology has been around for a pretty long while now and while it does carry a higher price tag it is very much worth it because we get healthier landscapes and reduce water by as much as forty-five percent in the process. A regular schedule based controller comes on every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for example, but an ET based controller knows what types of plants you have, what kind of soil you have, what the slope is like, the shade factor, etc. It takes all of that information about your landscape and uses real-time evapotranpiration (ET) data to water only what your specific landscape needs. No more and no less.”
“This is really cool stuff and we are very excited to see where this goes, “said Lynn Quinley who represented the Afton Oaks community throughout the installation. “It all makes a lot of sense and we were not aware that this kind of technology was available and are proud to be a part of it.” Taylor Irrigation Service explained that their hope is that the city makes the code for this sort of project a little tighter. “Once projects like this are completed they get deeded back over to the city and if the city were to make this sort of system the standard then the amount of water that could be saved, which means money saved, would be a win all of the way around,” continued John Taylor. “We save water, a precious resource, we save money (tax payer dollars) and we save the landscape.
Local residents like the Baumer family that lives near the esplanades along Richmond have really come to love the trees over the years. “I’ve lived here for almost thirty years now and I have to say that after the drought last year my wife and I were really worried about those old trees because we love them,” said Richard Baumer Sr. “I’m really glad that y’all are doing this.” Taylor Irrigation admitted that they have quite a few clients that live in Afton Oaks and really wanted to make everyone proud.
The system installed by Taylor irrigation on this particular job was the DIG Leit-2 ET system which is completely wireless. It uses a wireless interface in which a weather pod communicates hourly with controllers that are installed in the ground at each valve location. Those controllers are powered by the sun via solar panels that are mounted on top of each valve box. A hand held remote control can change settings on the system, run diagnostics or manually control the zones on the system. Even the sprinkler heads on this job are highly efficient. The heads that TIS installed are called rotary heads and are much more efficient than standard spray heads. They put out water much slower so as to create much less misting and it also allows the ground to absorb a lot more of the water before run off starts to occur.
Owner John Taylor, who is also an EPA WaterSense partner and auditor says this has to be the new standard. “Water shortages are not solely the problems of smaller third world countries. These issues are affecting us right here and right now in places like Arizona, Las Vegas, Atlanta and Southern California. Look at what the drought right here did to us last year. The lake levels are down and water restrictions were enforced. Irrigation tends to be sixty to seventy percent of the water we use in this country so we have to get this right. Ten years from now we will look back at all of this wasted water running down the side of the street and think, what were we doing. The knowledge is there, the technology is there… we just have to implement it.”
Thomas Fuller once said, “We never know the worth of water til the well is dry.” Perhaps with a few more conscientious contractors like Taylor Irrigation Service, we may be able to keep that proverbial well from drying up at all. It is certainly encouraging.