With local water restrictions now in effect, Palm Beach Atlantic University announced today it has received a donation of a high-tech underground soil moisture monitoring system that will help the University measure and reduce its water usage for irrigation purposes on a portion of the main campus.
|Dan Cupp, solutions consultant with Treasure Coast Irrigation and Landscape, holds an UgMO soil moisture sensor.|
UgMO Technologies, based in King of Prussia, Pa., and Treasure Coast Irrigation and Landscape, based in Hobe Sound, have donated and installed soil moisture sensors and base units that are expected to help the University save as many as 2.5 million gallons of water a year.
UgMO, which stands for “underground monitoring,” measures soil moisture at the root level at 10-minute intervals 24 hours a day. The underground sensors transmit the data wirelessly to a base station that works with the existing irrigation clock to prevent over-watering.
"We’re able to control the sprinkler system to ensure that the soil is only getting the water it needs," said Don Apruzzese, president of UgMO’s residential and commercial division. "As a result, we’re capable of saving between 30 and 50 percent of the water typically used by a sprinkler system."
When water restrictions are in effect, property owners tend to over-water their lawns on days when they are allowed to do so, Apruzzese said. However, soil with a great deal of sand in it, such as that found in many parts of South Florida, doesn’t hold water for long, he said.
|A worker installs an UgMO base unit at PBA.|
"So you’re actually wasting more water on restriction days than you are if you would use technology to monitor it," Apruzzese said.
Because the system works with the existing timers, watering will take place only on those days on which it is allowed under current water restrictions. However, PBA is requesting a variance from the South Florida Water Management District to allow the campus to water on additional days of the week.
The variance request is based not only on water conservation, but also the ability to observe and calculate the water conservation in an educational environment, said Ken Kropp, grounds manager for National Management Resources Corp., which handles facilities management for the University.
In recent weeks, PBA has been working with Treasure Coast Irrigation to retrofit the entire campus to conserve the amount of water used for irrigation, Kropp said.
|(L-R) Ken Kropp of National Management Resources Corp., Gary Gleichman of Treasure Coast Irrigation and Landscape, Don Apruzzese of UgMO Technologies and Richard Creese of UgMO Technologies show off the UgMO underground sensor system that is being used at PBA.|
During that time, UgMO enlisted Treasure Coast Irrigation to help it find a demonstration site to show what its product could do, Kropp said. PBA agreed to become a demonstration site, and the equipment was installed at no cost to the University, he said.
The UgMO system is being installed on about 30 percent of the campus irrigation zones and will result in about $20,000 in savings annually, Kropp said. "From there we will continue to do more water-saving projects," he said.
In addition, since the turf will be healthier, PBA will not need to spend as much money on chemical treatments to cure diseases in the turf or introduce chemicals into the turf environment, he said.
The new system also will provide learning opportunities for students taking such classes as environmental science or environment and society, or it could potentially become a topic for a student’s senior research project, said Dr. Thomas Chesnes, associate professor of biology.
"A student may find a part of this project that they may want to use as part of their own project," he said. "There are a number of different classes in which this information could be used."