The Port Washington Water District on Wednesday launched its rebate program to incentivize residents to begin using a smart irrigation system in an attempt to cut back on Port’s water usage.

The smart irrigation system program is part of the water district’s Be Smart and Green, Save 15 water conservation campaign, which launched last year to save 15 percent of water.

The district is offering $150 in rebates to qualifying applicants who are among the district’s largest water users.

“The increased adoption of smart irrigation system controllers will have a drastic impact on overall water consumption and will help us protect our sole-source aquifer and reach our 15 percent conservation goal,” water district Commissioner Peter Meyer said.

The district has appropriated $5,250 to fund 35 rebates for qualified residents who replace their irrigation timer with a smart irrigation system controller.

Smart irrigation controller systems are designed to optimize water usage, prevent over-watering and keep lawns and gardens cool and healthy, officials said.

The systems use specific information such as weather, plant type and soil moisture levels to determine how much water is needed and also automatically adjust watering schedules based on these factors.

The smart irrigation system controller costs about $250.

“We are very excited to launch this rebate program because we know this technology works and wider adoption of it will go a long way for our conservation goals and protecting our only water source,” said Commissioner Mindy Germain. “Last year, we piloted an EPA WaterSense labeled smart irrigation system controller at our headquarters and reduced our water consumption from the previous year by 58 percent. Not to say we expect to see this level of savings from each system, but we do expect the installation of these 35 systems to help us make great strides toward reaching our 15 percent reduction goals.”

In 2016, the Port Washington Water District’s top 20 residential users consumed 14.8 million gallons of water, district officials said.

The smart irrigation system would reduce that usage by around 20 percent and save more than three million gallons of water, officials said.

When the water district piloted the program at its facility, it used 52,000 fewer gallons of water than it did compared to 2015 with a regular irrigation timer.

The smart irrigation system controller allows the average residential user to reduce water use by approximately 30 percent, which would save around $100, officials said.

“A new smart irrigation system controller, on average, costs about $250,” said David Brackett, chairman of the Board of Commissioners. “With a $150 rebate from the District and an estimated $100 in savings on you water bill due to the decrease in water usage, the system will have paid for itself within the first year. We really hope our customers take advantage of this program immediately and see for themselves how effective this technology can be.”

In order to qualify for the rebate, residents must be a water district customer and must own a fully functioning irrigation system with an EPA water sense label that says smart irrigation controller, according to a news release.

“The system must also be installed and programmed per the manufacturer’s directions, as well as contain a rain sensor—unless the controller model installed includes an onsite weather component, according to the news release.

Officials said rebates will be issued on a first-come, first-serve basis and will be offered when funding is available.

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