Executive Summary

When the California drought caused a state of emergency to be declared by Governor Brown in 2014, the Allan Hancock main campus in Santa Maria, California began looking for ways to conserve water. Being that the main campus at Santa Maria is a 105-acre park-like setting, when the water drought crisis hit, campus staff needed to cut water usage due to state and local water conservation goals to keep the rising cost of water from affecting their budget.  This park-like setting presents the grounds maintenance department with many challenges from watering times to keeping the landscape beautiful and keeping the play fields safe for its student body. The local water agency had well water that was available without the restrictions, but the supply was limited in quantity and the times that it was available. It was decided that the Calsense system would help them to deal with the challenges that were presented.

  • 40% water reduction
  • Reduction by 3 hours/week (per staff member) spent on controller programming
  • Return on investment (ROI) was less than one year


Allan Hancock College is in northern Santa Barbara County and is part of the California Public Community College system. The college serves the community well with over 98% of its students coming from the local area. It is one of the five best community colleges in the state and has four locations in Santa Maria, Lompoc, Solvang and at Vandenberg Air Force Base. The college is well known for its accomplished athletic programs including intercollegiate football, basketball, soccer, tennis, baseball, softball, golf, volleyball, cross country, and track and field. The college offers opportunities for those who want to begin a bachelor’s degree (university degree), earn an associate degree (two-year degree), prepare for a career, or upgrade skills. The college offers degrees and certificates in more than 100 areas of study. Allan Hancock College is well-known for its English as a second language program, its professional theatre program, and for providing superior support services for its students, including counseling and tutoring.


  • Water costs increasing
  • Water availability decreasing due to drought conditions and state/local regulations
  • Sports fields require regular consistent watering which is also being affected by drought conditions and state/local regulations
  • Due to field use both day and night, manual program scheduling was an issue. Could not apply all necessary water in allotted time

How Calsense Helped

The Calsense model ET2000e was chosen as the product to help them move into a better way of monitoring and maintaining their irrigation systems. Calsense flow sensors were installed to allow the controllers to monitor system for water use and shut down valves and master valves in situations where breaks occur. They also implemented daily weather adjustments using an ET gage and Rain Bucket. Most of the irrigated area is turf so they started at 100% of ET everywhere. They monitored the areas for a while, adjusting up or down as needed, to maintain the plant material quality they required. The goal was to get an automated solution to daily water requirements so that their limited supply of water and times could be maximized. Coupling the daily weather adjustments and the controllers’ ability to automatically water at a system capacity allowed for the water being applied not only as needed, but also within the allotted time each day that it was scheduled to water.


In a short amount of time, the campus staff began to see that the Calsense technology was working to keep the plant material at the quality level they required, and the restrictions of supply and time were no longer an issue. They found that the time they spent on programming was reduced weekly by at least 3 hours per staff member. Water use was also reduced significantly. In the year that followed, the area used 40% less water than they otherwise would have without the automation. Even with the lower cost well water, the savings generated would have paid for the Calsense equipment within the first year. In the final analysis, campus staff have noticed that letting the Calsense technology function as designed they are seeing a significant reduction in water use, time it takes to get the water applied, and the athletic field health has improved making the fields safer and more playable for the students.

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