“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”
– Peter Drucker
We all know this term and understand the meaning, yet often, collecting real-time water use information for many is unattainable. Water managers using Jain Unity easily access water use information from any device that connects to the web. More importantly, they share this information with customers, contractors, and water agencies to support their goal of proper water use and precision irrigation.
Jain Unity offers five different types of reports. They include run time, measured water use, estimated water use, alerts, and soon-to-release measured water cost reports. You can find all of these on the main user page.
Measured Water Use vs. Estimated Water Use
Measured water use and estimated water use are both valuable. Measured water use is always preferable because it accurately reflex’s the amount of water that flows through your system. It captures scheduled system irrigation, manual water use, and leaks. Estimated water use measures just the amount of water used during scheduled system irrigation. Measured water use requires a flow meter, and for estimated water use, you need to know the amount of water that flows each valve per minute.
Measured water use requires a flow sensor. The best way to understand how a flow sensor works is to think of a water wheel on a river that spins at a rate consistent with that of the bypassing water. This consistency in spin rate creates a reference point for how much and how fast water passes by the water wheel. The same is true with a flow sensor; a small paddle wheel sits at the bottom of the flow sensor and comes in contact with just enough water to take readings. Each paddle wheel on the flow sensor has a magnet, and when this magnet passes the flow sensor body, an interval is recorded. You can read about them here in an article by Michael Derewenko.
Most flow sensors are relatively inexpensive (think less than $500) when you understand the flow sensor catches leaks in your system in addition to measuring flow. For example, using a flow sensor with Jain Unity, when the system detects a leak due to high measured flow, the system will shut off the valve and alert the water manager there is a problem. This stops both high flow leaks from breaks and low flow leaks due to leaky valves.
A high majority of irrigation systems do not have flow sensors. The reason for this is installation can be expensive and tricky. When the system is originally installed, this is the time to install the flow sensor. Most flow sensors need to be directly wired into the controller. So, if you complete this process at installation, it is easier. Post-installation often means the demolition of concrete, asphalt, or other hardscapes. There are wireless flow meters available today, but they tend to be expensive.
Estimated water use is the solution most users with mature irrigation systems need. Users calculate the amount of water used per minute on a valve and key the information into the software.
Jain Unity then calculates the run time by the flow rate and provides the estimated water use for your property. Unfortunately, users without a flow sensor tend to abandon the water use calculation. This is unfortunate because it is easy to set up estimated water use.
Two Ways To Calculate Flow Rate Of A Valve
The first way is to check your irrigation emission device’s gallon per minute flow rate. For example, using a half circle spray head at 30 psi, the flow rate for a sprinkler is 1.5 gallons per minute. If you have eight heads on a zone, that would be a total of 12 gallons per minute. Another easy way to calculate the flow per zone is to check your water meter manually. Be sure no other water is running, jot down the reading on the meter, run a zone for 10 minutes and calculate the difference on the water meter, and that will be your flow rate for the zone. Divide by ten, and that is the flow rate per minute. A lot easier than trenching and demoing concrete or asphalt.
Estimated water use is not perfect. For example, it will not record manual water use or leaks, but it is better than a run-time report. In addition, it is necessary to run the soon-to-be-announced estimated water cost feature of Jain Unity. Yep, that’s a big teaser for what’s coming at Jain, but real-time water costs on your dashboards are coming to Jain Unity soon.
There are more reports to run with Jain Unity, and here is an excellent video explaining some of them.
If you have additional ways to save water using reports, please let us know in the comments below. Saving water is getting easier every day due to new and improved technology. This is good news, considering the cost of water is so high today and only moving higher in the future.