Simple question. Do you have a flow meter? If you answered yes, great! If not, the questions are going to get a lot harder. Why not? Really answer that, it is not a rhetorical questions.
Is it the cost? There are research papers available on the internet that prove that flow meters have a very quick ROI. Considering the lack of pump issues that we now have on the property after our flow meters were installed, I would put our ROI to about 16 months. And it is important to note that we do not use public water, so I do not have a cost of for water saved. Flow meters and our central control system have saved us millions of gallons of water a year. An average of 17 million gallons of water each year to be exact. That’s over 600,000 gallons of water each year per acre since we have installed the system. Do the math with your costs. The ROI will be very quick.
So cost cannot be the issue, is it the work that has to be completed? I have heard many people that talk about how hard the meters are to install with the required wiring. The meter itself is no harder than fixing a mainline break. Follow the instructions for your meter and you will not have a problem. Two people can install a meter on a two inch pipe in just a few hours. For wiring, it does get a little trickier. Do you have two wire? If so, just tie it into the path. If you need to take wiring back to the controller, we made a wire puller for less than $500. I will post pictures to this post soon. We modified a plow from Tractor Supply and welded a section of curved metal conduit at the bottom. The wire spool is held on top and it will safely run wire about 8 to 10 inches under the ground. After the trench is made, we roll the turf back down with the tractor tires. In the summer, the marks are completely gone within 2 weeks. We have run over 750 ft. an hour with this method. Do not let the work stop you.
So we have eliminated the work and cost from your reasoning. What is left? Do you need approval? This is where you get to show your expertise as a manager. Do not let this scare you. Your superiors are used to getting proposals. Show them the ROI. Calculate water savings through having system shutdowns for leaks, and the time it will save you by notifying you of leaks and problems in the system. Add in all of the costs. Transportation, overtime, employee burdens are common examples. I can easily estimate that we are able to save the equivalent of a new flow meter with installation every month that the system is being used.
The only valid reason I can think of not having a flow meter is if you do not have a controller that is able of utilizing the data. You do need a higher grade system. However, even basic controllers like the Toro Evolution can utilize flow meter data. This controller costs less than $100. On the other hand, you could move to a full scale central system that can costs tens of thousands. It all depends on the needs you have. Talk to some of your irrigation suppliers. Send me an email, I can help with some of the features of the Baseline system we have. You will have a positive ROI for a central system and you will have better results. I have heard too many people just give up at this point because they claim that they have no money for a new controller. Put the proposal out there. I will detail our proposal in the near future to show how we calculated the ROI and got approval.
Remember, your irrigation system is only as efficient as you make it. And if you cannot measure what you are doing, you are wasting. Get a controller that is capable of reading flow data, and install a flow meter. You will be happy that you did. While I may not like getting an email at 2 am that tells me that a zone has stuck on, I appreciate the next email that tells me that the system has been shut down and that I have saved over 50,000 gallons of water that would have been wasted. It has made for a much better nights rest. Get yourself some good sleep and install one yourself.