SWAT Tactics: How the Smart Water Applications Technologies Initiative Can Help You Become a Special Force in the Marketplace

Article excerpt

Smart Water Application Technologies (SWAT) is a coalition of water purveyors, equipment manufacturers, and irrigation practitioners with shared interests in Smart technologies. According to the Irrigation Association (IA), reducing landscape water demand--which can account for up to 70 percent of water use in some parts of the country--is a critical way to help address the seasonal scarcity, and is the reason SWAT was created.

According to Brian Vinchesi, IA SWAT chairman, the overarching goal of the SWAT initiative is, "to improve water efficiency in irrigation systems by providing third-party testing of new technologies and, once tested, provide marketing materials and opportunities to help promote those new technologies in the marketplace."

Jenna Smith, chair of the SWAT Promotions Working Group, said SWAT increases water-provider and end-user support of more efficient irrigation technologies and practices through the development of benchmark testing and high-quality educational materials.

SWAT has established partnerships between water providers and the irrigation industry, and has increased the use of Smart controllers, said Smith.

The SWAT initiative has allowed the two sides to talk and understand each other's perspectives about water-conserving products, Vinchesi added.

SWAT protocol testing

"SWAT-tested products have all been tested against a common protocol by an independent third party," said Vinchesi. "The results can be used by contractors to determine which type of Smart controller might best suit their project."

Smart controllers have been tested, and soil moisture sensors have been--and are being--tested. "Soil moisture sensors in combination with a controller will be tested later this year," said Vinchesi. "The rain sensor protocol draft 2 will be out soon for public review. Other potential products include pressure-regulating sprinklers and valves; multi-stream, multi-trajectory nozzles; and other types of system interruption devices."

Playing a bigger role

According to Vinchesi, turf and landscape irrigation contractors can play a bigger role in Smart irrigation by being educated about Smart technologies and how they should be installed and utilized.

"These types of systems require a good knowledge of irrigation concepts and the equipment being used," said Vinchesi. "Irrigation is a system, and just slapping a new controller on the wall will not save water. System evaluation and proper programming will provide for a more efficient irrigation system."

Vinchesi added that contractors need to educate themselves so that they, in turn, can educate their clients on proper irrigation practices.

"Make sure the customer knows how quickly, or slowly, the sprinklers apply water," said Vinchesi. "Explain to them that everyday watering is not necessary, and that the irrigation system does not have to run all the time just because it is automatic."

According to Vinchesi, the SWAT initiative is looking for contractors throughout the country to participate in its various working groups. It is important that the working groups have a cross-section of the country and the various stakeholders involved in irrigation (i. …