It’s no surprise that California has struggled with drought over the last several years. Almost half of California’s drinking water is used outdoors, mostly for landscape irrigation. In 2014, California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) created a drought action plan to protect the 30,000 acres of irrigated landscaping under their ownership. Several Caltrans districts have since decided to partner with Calsense to further their conservation efforts, including District 10. 

Scott Daugs training Caltrans The Challenge 

The Calsense system in District 10 was initially operating on a basic level, but it was not used to its full potentialPart of the problem was a lack of dedicated training opportunities. Crews would get pulled to complete other tasks such as road work, and the lack of learning time resulted in reduced troubleshooting knowledge. As a result, their irrigation repair list piled up with unfinished tasks. 

In early 2018, it was decided there was value in providing additional smart irrigation training to District 10. Two maintenance members from Stockton, Modesto, and Merced were assigned to weekly Calsense irrigation training with Field Service Representative Scott Daugs. Understanding how to read system data meant that the crews were able to spot problems and resolve them quickly, such as underground leaks. They also created site maps to find all necessary components quickly, which limits water waste and possible damages. The plants are healthier, and there is less of a chance they will lose new trees during hot weather, due to proper system set-up. The Calsense system detects breakdowns and automatically adjusts watering when the weather is cool or wet. 

Results 

A fully utilized Calsense system provides an improved workplace for the Caltrans irrigation crews. Faster repairs and remote control offer a safer work environment, as the crews limit their time spent near the dangers of the roadside. The Irrigation Training Center in Stockton also helps providing the crews a safe and immersive learning environment. 

The irrigation crews now connect a meaningful purpose to their training. They can see the difference their repairs and system improvements make for Caltrans  water conservation through interpreting controller data and reporting. “It was 10 percent savings one month, then 66 percent after repairs were made in Ceres at El Camino.” Saul Perez, acting landscape lead worker in Stockton, shares. “Now I can interpret the data. Before I just saw ‘high flow’ on the screen. What did that mean? Now I know what to look for.” Through this fine-tuning, they provide an honorable role in improving the state’s water conservation. 

Since the irrigation training kicked off last year, District 10 has saved over 258 million gallons of water. This is a 40% reduction in water use overall! The irrigation crews aim to eventually join forces as a singular irrigation team spanning from Stockton to Merced. Learn more about Caltrans’ water saving relationship with Calsense in Districts 3, 5, 8, 10 and 11, including how they have cut usage by over 65% since 2013! Stay up to date with the work Caltrans does to improve California’s transportation systems by reviewing their programs and district news.