USA: Faced with historic droughts, the governments of Georgia, California and Idaho are turning to GIS maps and satellite-based computerised sprinklers for drought recovery and to prepare for a future of less water.
A report in Government Technology (GT), suggests governments in the drought affected states are employing technologies like automatic water meter readers, satellite-based evapotranspiration monitoring and electronically controlled watering systems.
The municipality of Healdsburg in California sought a better way to water its athletic fields and instead discovered a solution that revamped its water conservation activities.
Healdsburg’s community services director, David Mickaelian, said the city had used labour-intensive manual water controllers on many of its fields before discovering, a climatologically controlled irrigation system.
The sprinkler has a satellite that tracks weather patterns and automatically adjusts water schedules based on an environment’s needs. After installing the system in 2007 in selected parks, the city calculated water savings in the range of 5.5 percent to 18 percent. The city is reportedly employing the technology to upgrade its entire water system.
Northern Georgia has faced the most severe Level 4 drought. As part of Atlanta’s infrastructure improvement programme, the city launched an initiative in December 2006 to convert all water users to an automated meter-reading system.
Under the system, officials can track water usage or at any time by using a radio system and simply driving by locations to pick up readings.
Idaho too is utilising GIS and remote sensing for water conservation. Tony Morse, GIS manager of Idaho’s Department of Water Resources informed that the state uses a satellite-based evapotranspiration (ET) tracking model that lets state officials see how much water is used by irrigated agriculture that accounts for 95 percent of Idaho’s water.
This is an important measurement because irrigated agriculture accounts for more. Morse said some states like Kansas use an honor system to report the amount of water farmers use each year. Idaho’s ET tracking model can more accurately gauge their usage.