At our October 2009 LICH conference, at the Blaisdell, while still LICH President, I called for a new committee to see what could be done to improve water conservation, especially in landscape uses, for Hawaii. Several dedicated committee members stepped up, including Alan Schildknecht, of Irrigation Consultants, Mel Villoria of HISCO, Lanky Morrill of DLNR, Cat Sawai of BWS, and Neal Fujii of the State Water Commission.
We met every month and discussed what could be done. I was especially interested in finding ways to encourage the use of simple but effective sensors and new timers that automatically adjust watering cycles to local weather conditions. Others who came and participated in the discussions included Richard Quinn of Helber, Hastert & Fee, and Matt Flach, the landscape architect for Pearl Harbor, ands at the 2010 conference, Elson Gushiken of Irrigation Technology Corporation. We participated in the County of Maui’s development of new landscape codes. We provided text for a possible Hawaii legislative resolution in 2010. After Chris Dacus came on board, we surveyed LICH members and others, created extensive lists of possible BMP’s (best management practices), then ranked them for ease of early adoption or importance for eventual adoption. This list was referred to in another, 2011, proposed resolution for the Hawaii legislature. Neither resolution went through, but now, at President Chris Dacus’ request, the Governor has officially proclaimed July “LICH Water Conservation Month,” a milestone in public recognition of our conservation efforts. Also, and in part due to these discussions, Neal Fujii conferred with the State Water Commission and the result is that this year a contract has been let through the Corps of Engineers to prepare a statewide Water Conservation Plan as called for in the 1978 Hawaii Constitutional Convention.
In my own company we helped the Ke Kumulani community retrofit to one of the latest low-cost sets of conservation tools: we installed flow sensors, master valves, evapotranspiration (ET) sensor/calculator units, and new timers capable of interacting with these. Besides saving water we saved a lot of customer grief: formerly various minor mishaps or worn out sprinkler heads would cause geysers at night that would fall into residents’ yards down below, sometimes even entering homes through open windows. Now the zone valve for the section with a geyser is re-tested, then shut and bypassed, when the excess flows from the geyser occur and are confirmed, while the timer continues to water the rest of the zones. The cost was affordable and Ke Kumulani’s Board and management has fewer after-hours headaches, while watering at night for lowest evaporation losses, can continue.
Each of us can find ways, in our nurseries, through the Natural Resource Conservation Service, or in our golf courses or landscapes, through our irrigation suppliers, to install water saving equipment. When we design a system, for example, we can make appropriate use of drip irrigation, especially for shrub or certain groundcover plantings, and low-flow efficient stream-spray nozzles, now newly more reliable and effective than some of the earlier versions. Let’s all do what we can to observe LICH Water Conservation Month in July 2011, and use our normal landscape activities to further the cause of water conservation, effectively and systematically, in Hawaii.
Together we can make outdoor water conservation something that is built into our landscapes, not just the outcome of often-disregarded rhetorical admonitions. The day when a geyser along a roadside has to be called in, again and again, to the BWS trouble-call line, can come to an end: the sensors & timer will do it for us!
Boyd Ready is the Vice President of the Landscape Industry Council of Hawaii and also Vice President, RME, Certified Arborist of Akahi Services, Inc.