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WaterSense Releases Draft Specifications for Weather-Based Irrigation Controllers

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released its WaterSense draft specification for weather-based irrigation controllers. EPA encourages all interested partners and other stakeholders to provide comments on the draft specification before the January 18, 2010 deadline. This specification represents an exciting milestone for the program, as it will be the first irrigation product to be eligible for the WaterSense label.

Weather-based irrigation controllers have the potential to save significant amounts of water, both individually and at the national level. An estimated 13.5 million irrigation systems are currently installed in residential lawns across the United States, and an additional 308,000 new systems are installed each year as a part of new home construction. Of the 13.5 million installed units, less than 10 percent use weather-based controllers to schedule irrigation, with the majority using standard clock timer controllers. Replacing a standard clock timer controller with a WaterSense labeled controller could save 11,600 gallons per household per year—which adds up to a potential savings of nearly 150 billion gallons per year across the United States.

As with all WaterSense specifications, the draft weather-based irrigation controller specification includes performance criteria to ensure the controllers can adequately meet landscape watering needs without overwatering. The draft specification addresses both stand-alone and add-on controllers that utilize current climatological data and some form of evapotranspiration (ET) data as a basis for scheduling irrigation.

Manufacturers, retailers, and distributors that produce or sell weather-based irrigation controllers cannot currently partner with WaterSense, but will be invited to become WaterSense partners once EPA has processed and reviewed public comments. EPA will notify all interested parties when the program is open for partnership before the release of the final specification, in order to allow ample time to plan for the production and promotion of WaterSense labeled products.

EPA will host two webinars with stakeholders to discuss the draft specification on December 16, 2009:

Morning Meeting:
9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Eastern time. Register for this meeting.

Afternoon Meeting:
1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Eastern time. Register for this meeting.

Please note that the afternoon meeting is approaching capacity and WaterSense prefers that stakeholders register for the morning meeting if at all possible. Participants in the afternoon meeting may be asked to switch to the morning meeting to allow for productive dialog. Call-in and other meeting information will be e-mailed to you once you register. Meeting materials will be sent to registered participants via e-mail closer to the meeting date.

If you have questions about the WaterSense draft specification for weather-based irrigation controllers, please contact the WaterSense Helpline at (866) WTR-SENS (987-7367) or e-mail watersense@epa.gov. To provide comments, please visit the WaterSense Web site.



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