Exective Summary

In 2010 North Lake College decided it was time to get a handle on managing the irrigation at their main campus, encompassing 276 acres, as well as two satellite campuses of 5 and 7 acres. The college wanted to gain a clear picture of how they were using water and introduce the ability to control the irrigation with weather data. After installing the Calsense resource management system, North Lake was able to see where, when, and how much water was being applied and pinpoint issues that that their contractor could then fix in a timely manner.

  • 45% water reduction
  • Irrigation connections were made in one day, not 4-7 days
  • Return on Investment (ROI) was less than 14 months

About

North Lake College is a two-year public community college serving Irving, Texas and northern Dallas County. North Lake opened in the fall of 1977, becoming the sixth of seven colleges in the Dallas County Community College District. The college’s central campus sits on 276 acres in Las Colinas of Irving and North Lake also operates the North Campus in Coppell, South Campus in South Irving, and West Campus adjacent to DFW Airport. The main campus has 25,000 students and the satellite campuses have about 5,000 students.

The college’s signature programs include logistics, the sciences, construction technology, and other unique pairing of arts and technology.

 

Challenges

  • No control over irrigation at the central campus or satellite campuses, with a contractor managing the irrigation system
  • Three levels of communications made managing irrigation issues difficult and slow with fixes not completed for 4-7 days
  • Area contractor was stealing water
  • Standing water and field conditions were a concern
  • Water cycles that were creating problems due to the duration of run times.

How Calsense Helped

After installing controllers, along with flow meters and master valves on 2 satellite campuses, the Calsense controller learned actual flow rates by measuring a valve at night when watering. North Lake was then able to set-up high flow and low flow parameters to detect future problems. This changed everything: North Lake College was now pro-actively detecting irrigation problems and reporting them to the contractor the next morning by emailing the Calsense Alert Reports, which detailed the location of the valve that needed to be checked. This cut irrigation fix times from 4-7 days to just one day.

North Lake went through a period of high water usage, and thanks to the detailed and simple to read reports generated by Calsense, they were able to see high water usage on the Controller Summary Report, identified as non-controller usage. A contractor was stealing water by using a hose bib on a valve at a satellite campus. North Lake monitored the situation closely and as able to stop the rogue contractor who had been stealing from them.

North Lake started using weather, Evapotranspiration (ET) and rain data to automatically adjust station run times. They got their ET through the internet, based on latitude and longitude, with a no-charge software feature called Weather Sense. A Rain Bucket was also installed to measure rain and shut down the controller based on the amount of recorded rainfall. These features were instrumental in improving field conditions by stopping the over-watering and under-watering automatically.  North Lake was able to significantly cut their “water window” with Calsense because they could input their system capacity number and activate up to 4 valves at a time.  North Lake was trained and serviced by a no-charge Calsense representative whose job involves training the customer on how to use the Calsense resource management system at their facility for the life of the system, whether it’s one controller or a hundred.

Results

When North Lake College decided to try irrigation central control technology they chose Calsense, because of our reputation for helping government agencies save water, labor, and money. North Lake started a pilot program with the two satellite campuses. This gave the college the chance to install Calsense for a test run. North Lake found the product easy to use and intuitive, and really appreciated the no-charge, hands-on support and training provided by the Calsense service representative. Setting up the controller to use weather, ET and rain data was easy. Now, North Lake’s controllers are automatically adjusting station run times based on daily weather, while the Rain Bucket helps shut down controllers as well as delay irrigation based on the amount of rain that was recorded.

Another important option that North Lake College valued was Flow Sense. The Flow sense option allows multiple controllers to share an internet-connected communication option, master valves, flow meters, and pumps, as well as real-time weather data from devices such as an ET Gage, Tipping Rain Bucket, and/or third-party rain and freeze sensors. Flow Sense provides the ability to control the number of valves turned on based on flow capacities of each mainline, and it accurately pinpoints valves with High/Low/No Flows in order to shut them down, meanwhile generating an alert to notify North Lake for quick and easy repair.

North Lake College was able to reduce water usage by 45% with an ROI of 14 months. Irrigation repairs went from 4-7 days to one day by emailing daily Alert Reports to their contractor. North Lake College is now in the process of converting its main campus over to Calsense and will soon be installing 14 CS3000 web-based controllers. North Lake will utilize Ethernet, GPRS (cell phone) and Spread Spectrum radio to operate their main campus providing them with the communication options and flexibility that worked best for them. North Lake College is now on the path to reaching its goal of having a sustainable LEED certified system that North Lake College and their students can be very proud of.