Measuring Water Efficiency

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  Measuring Water
  Louisa Kinnear reports on a trial being conducted in WA to measure
  water use efficiency, and Anne Currey looks at the issues involved in
  using recycled water for irrigation…
    A Western Australian turf farm aims to turn good science into                            and measuring this against improved
  environmental and economic savings. The turf farm is participating in                      water efficiency practices they may
  a Water Efficiency Trial (WET) run by the Department of Water, which                       implement as a result of the WWOTF
  aims to measure the effect of water taken from the Gnangara Mound.                         training. The result will enable the turf
    The Gnangara Mound is one of Perth’s most valuable water sources,                        farm to apply tailored waterwise practices
  situated just north of the City. There is high demand for water on the                     based on sound science that will help the
  Mound for a wide variety of uses. The drying climate over the past                         environment and the hip pocket. More
  few years has meant less rainfall has entered the groundwater system                       information on the metering program
  resulting in some areas reaching their allocation limits.                                  can be found at
    To help measure water use on the Mound, the trial will undertake
  real-time monitoring and logging of water being taken for irrigation.                       A joint article by the WA Office of Water Strategy and the
  The turf farm is one of five trial sites participating in the program. Sites               Department of Water, compiled by Louisa Kinnear
  were chosen based on their size of operation, usefulness of positioning
  for aquifer modelling purposes and range of crop types.
    Each of these properties has:                                                              In the last few years, pressure has grown on managers of open space
   • a real-time telemetry unit displaying pumping data from their main                      and recreational turf areas to become more water efficient and decrease
     production bore;                                                                        their reliance on potable water. In many areas the challenge has been
   • loggers on other bores used on the property; and                                        taken up and much irrigation is done using recycled water.
   • a new monitoring well drilled and fitted with a real-time telemetry                       This change in focus has had a big impact on the businesses that design
     unit displaying fluctuations in the groundwater level nearby.                           and install irrigation systems as there is a vast difference between a system
                                                                                             that uses potable water and one that uses recycled water. Understanding
    A weather station is also being established on a site most typical                       these differences could avoid some of the misunderstandings, especially
  of the climatic conditions across the area to give weather data and                        about cost, that arise when managers, designers and installers are involved
  evaporation rates. This network will also be complemented with the                         in upgrading or installing systems for recycled water.
  installation of loggers in a range of Department of Water monitoring                         There are lots of regulations and laws (federal, state and local) to do with
  bores throughout and surrounding the area. In addition, monthly                            installing and operating recycled water irrigation systems. These regulations
  samples from bores will test for nutrients and periodically for pesticides,                include environmental and safety issues, and vary with state and local
  herbicides, and heavy metals.                                                              government jurisdictions. Other important elements that need to be
                                                                    The Department of        considered are water quality standards, having a safety plan and a management
                                                                  Water will provide         checklist, monitoring system performance, and ensuring any specific onsite
                                                                  information from           conditions, eg to do with soil moisture and groundwater, are met.
                                                                  this process to all          Recycled water often comes from a supply that is constant or highest
                                                                  WET participants           when demand is lowest. This means that the user must have in place ways
                                                                  to increase their          of dealing with excess water. As well, there are a number of OH&S issues to
                                                                  understanding of           consider when dealing with recycled water that don’t apply to potable water.
                                                                  their current water          Installing and operating a recycled system is much different from
                                                                  use practices.             one that uses potable water. These vary from the most basic, eg clearly
                                                                    The turf farm            identifying recycled water equipment using lilac coloured piping, lids etc,
                                                                  involved in the trial is   to installing equipment that can deal with the poorer quality of recycled
                                                                  also participating in      water eg adequate filters; to ensuring there is a high enough flow to allow
                                                                  the “Waterwise on          the system to be flushed effectively.
                                                                  the Farm” program            If you manage an irrigation system that uses recycled water, you should
                                                                  (WWOTF). The aim           make sure that anyone who designs, installs or operates that system is
  Department of Water contractors fitting a water meter at a turf
                                                                  of the program is          able to demonstrate that they are skilled and knowledgeable in the area.
  farm north of Perth                                             to learn how to use        The risks of poor design, installation or operation are just not worth it.
                                                                  water more efficiently.    If you are interested in finding out more about using recycled water, a
  This will help participants to establish better irrigation and nutrient                    half-day workshop on the topic is being run at Irrigation Australia 2006
  management systems and improve production, quality and reduce                              Conference and Exhibition being held in Brisbane, May 9 – 11.
  pumping and fertiliser costs. The WET program will assist WWOTF
  participants by providing them with real-time data on their water use                       By Anne Currey

12 Golf and Sports Turf Australia March/April 2006

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