July 13, 2008

Hallandale Program Aims to Conserve Water

By Sergy Odiduro, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Jul. 13--Hallandale Beach has started a rain sensor retrofit project to help conserve water.

"We're offering at no cost to the resident a rain sensor on existing timed sprinkler systems. The sensor will sense that there is enough water saturation in the ground and will allow the timer to automatically turn off if it was scheduled for a particular time," said Mary Francis Jeannot, administrative analyst with the city's public works department.

The project is part of a $50,000 grant awarded by the South Florida Water Management District to fund low-voltage irrigation systems and the cost of the sensors. The district typically invests $400,000 a year in water conservation projects

"[Water is] something that we need to treat conservatively," said Mark Elsner, director of the district's water supply implementation division. "Water is a finite resource that is dependent on our rainfall to recharge it. It does have a limit."

The district has had a long-standing conservation program, but public interest seems to peak primarily during water shortages, he said. The district's goal is to institute measures that will affect conservation on a daily basis.

Turning sprinkler systems off when it's raining is one way to do this.

"We need to use what we have to extend those resources and possibly avoid or at least forestall what could be a very significant investment in alternative water supply development," said district spokesman .

The rain sensor retrofit program targets residents whose houses were built prior to 1992. New houses are generally required to have the rain sensor as part of their construction.

The city hopes to install 400 devices, saving an estimated 11.5 million gallons of water a year. So far, the city has about 50 approved applicants; more are pending.

"We are doing the best we can to prevent water waste," said Earl King, deputy director of the public works department.

To apply for the program, call 954-457-1608. It typically takes two to three weeks before the sensor is installed.


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