Company: HydroPoint Data Systems
Source: Scientific American
In Silicon Valley the Campbell Union School District’s sprinklers used to dutifully water the soccer fields and gardens at 12 campuses even during spring showers. Temporarily shutting off each of the 45 irrigation control boxes, by hand, wasn’t worth the custodians’ time. But in 2009 the district installed new “smart” controllers that automatically adjust daily watering to the weather. Each box, fitted with a microprocessor and antenna, receives local real-time weather information by satellite from the WeatherTRAK climate center supercomputer run by Petaluma, Calif.–based HydroPoint Data Systems, Inc.
On one April morning after a three-day rainstorm, Campbell Union’s facilities supervisor, David Radke, checked the status of the controllers by logging in toWeatherTRAK.net The service had put the district’s irrigation network on pause when the storm began, and according to WeatherTRAK’s math, the network would not need to resume watering for eight to 11 days.
If needed, Radke can reprogram the controllers from his Web account, but because his crew has carefully customized each box’s settings, he finds that “there’s really not a whole lot to do. That’s the beauty of it.” The soccer fields look better than ever, yet in 2009 WeatherTRAK slashed Campbell Union’s water use by 39 percent and cut its utility bills by $108,000, recouping the installation expenses nearly twice over.