Port water district cuts usage by 52,000 gallons

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The Port Washington Water District’s pilot program to conserve water has saved more than 52,000 gallons of water in four months, district officials said last week.

Under the program, the water district installed a Smart Irrigation System Controller at its headquarters that adjusted the use of its sprinklers according to weather reports, Port Washington Water District Commissioner Mindy Germain said.

“Immediately when we looked at the results, we couldn’t believe the numbers were so high,” Germain said. “It’s amazing how much was saved and we’d like to roll that out in a bigger way, and we’re currently having meetings with the five villages on the peninsula and sharing the results and hoping to work out a plan.”

The Smart Irrigation System is a part of the water district’s “Be Smart and Green, Save 15” program, an initiative started in July to reduce water use in Port Washington by 15 percent.  

The water district is using a Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller, which uses Wi-Fi networks to connect to local weather stations and controls sprinkler systems, according to a water district news release.

“Using this easy to install device on our small piece of property, we managed to reduce our irrigation water use by over 70 percent this summer while keeping both our lawn and landscaping healthy and green,  David Brackett, chairman of the Port Washington Water District Board of Commissioners, said in the release.

Germain said the water district will talk to residents about retrofitting their sprinkler systems with the new technology, and could possibly offer a rebate to help residents pay for the system.

The water district’s original goal, she said, was to spread awareness to residents about conserving water, but now it will begin educating and reminding people about how to conserve.

“We’ll be issuing preseason letters reminding residents to conserve water and we’ll be issuing warnings to violators when we observe them,” Germain said. “We’re not going to go out right away and start ticketing people, but now that we’re past the awareness stage, we’re really looking to educate the residents.’’

“We are very impressed with how well this technology worked and the amount of water savings we were able to achieve,” Brackett said. 

Germain said the water district is also working with heavy water users to see what methods can cut back on irrigation.

The Town of North Hempstead has committed to help the water district, and is currently introducing methods for the Harbor Links Golf Course in Port Washington to cut back on usage, Germain said.

The water district will continue to remind residents of the Nassau County lawn watering ordinances, which require residents to water on odd or even days correlating with their house numbers, and restrict lawn watering from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Germain said.

When the program was announced in July, North Hempstead Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth said the county ordinances have been overlooked in the past. 

Germain said the water district used Facebook to spread tips and ideas on conserving water to residents, and that the district saw a good response and is confidant residents will begin conserving.

“We sent out tips everyday on Facebook throughout the summer, and we saw a lot of traction,” Germain said. “It was nice to see that people were responding to our effort. It’s nice to see we’re beginning to resonate with people.”

By Stephen Romano

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