By Clint McClure, President & CEO of MMI
Looking for a way to realistically manage water expenses? The following methods, listed from the least to most costly, each yield a different ROI (return on investment) depending on the association's investment and the availability of sources and options in your area.
Start by having your community analyzed for what is literally under your feet. Work with your landscaper to obtain a soil sample to be tested. Most of these tests are done at a very reasonable cost via local geology departments at one of our UCs (University of California) or by working with a private geotechnical lab.
Use the data from your soil analysis to work with your landscape contractor to fine-tune your water use by adding possible soil amendment and other landscape management methods for better water absorption.
Systems Management ($$)
The landscape irrigation system needs constant care and upkeep by skilled professionals. Should you suspect your system is not used co its fullest potential, enlist the assistance of the manufacturer. Most arc eager to help and may even come to your site to help diagnose any issues.
Continue the proper management of your system by having an irrigation review conducted by your local water authority or conservancy agency. These agencies provide a detailed review and report along with recommendations on how to improve what you have currently in place. In most cases, this information is available to the association at no charge because these agencies are supported by tax dollars.
Reclaimed Water ($$$)
If reclaimed water is accessible in your area, consult with your landscaper to determine if converting will have any effect on your landscape (don't forget to use your soil analysis to help with this part). Then, work with your experts to specify what will need to be done to modify and convert your existing irrigation system. The dissolved bio-solids in reclaimed water may cause premature deterioration of your landscape irrigation components, and you need to be prepared for (and factor in) this potential cost.