Here is the biggest forgotten irrigation conservation secret... Don’t use your system! Take a minute to stop laughing… In a severe drought situation, this will obviously not work. In those circumstances you need to work on having no leaks and improving distribution uniformity. However, in most normal situations, you will be amazed at the water that can be saved by simply turning your system off.
Once you know your system is leak free, you can start to actually conserve water. Per irrigation cycle, you can only save water two ways. You can run for fewer minutes, or you can set your system up to use less water per minute. It really is that simple. Let’s look at the controller settings first. What is your run time per station? Are they all the same? Are you using cycle and soak?
Irrigation leaks are the worst way that you can waste water as an irrigation user. They are repairable, and sometimes even preventable. Repeat after me, "I WILL fix all leaks in my system". The best way to stop leaks is to make sure that the system has been installed correctly, but for an existing system all you can do is manage it. Inspecting a system takes time and math. Your system can be perfect on one day and have a leak the next. That is why you need to move to a proactive mindset over a reactive one.
During our journey to conserve water, we have found that all methods and techniques fall into 3 categories. Using this framework has helped to simplify our process and has allowed us the opportunity to find more savings that we would not have thought of before. First, you can save water through having a tight, leak free system. We call that System Integrity. Next, you can save water through using less gallons in a scheduled cycle. Last, you can run less cycles.