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SA Water’s smart irrigation initiative has triumphed in the Industrial and Primary Production category at the 2021 iTnews Benchmark Awards.

Implemented in December 2019, the project aims to work with the South Australian community to help maintain cool, green open spaces that build healthy communities, while also providing cost and water saving benefits through more effective and site-specific use of water.

This is achieved through the use of real-time data from an integrated system of soil moisture probes, daily weather forecasts and smart water meters, with information provided to water users through a weekly irrigation schedule to optimise water efficiency.

SA Water Innovation Specialist, Alex Czura, said smart irrigation systems are currently installed in 25 council public spaces and playgrounds around Adelaide, and the councils who manage these areas use the data to determine the right amount of water to use, at the right time.

“Our initial research identified that many public green open spaces are being over-watered by around 20 per cent, resulting in otherwise avoidable costs for the councils or property owners,” Mr Czura said.

“Smart irrigation is proven to reduce ambient temperature by five to ten degrees, especially during warm summer periods, compared to non-irrigated spaces.

“To demonstrate these cooling benefits, we have also installed more than 200 air temperature sensors in council parks and playgrounds across Adelaide, from Gawler to Onkaparinga, with readings updated every 15 minutes and displayed live in an interactive map on our website.

“The sensors have so far demonstrated temperature differences of an average three to five degrees between irrigated and non-irrigated spaces in the same suburb, showing the positive impact of creating cool public spaces.

“The same smart watering approach can be used in backyards too, which in turn reduces reliance on air-conditioning and associated energy use, providing cost savings and reducing environmental impact.”

SA Water General Manager of Strategy, Engagement and Innovation, Anna Jackson, said the recent award win recognises the team’s work innovatively combines simple digital tools to drive better outcomes for customers and the community.

“Through a combination of the smarts of our people and emerging smart technology, we are providing more efficient and affordable services now and into the future,” Ms Jackson said.

“By supporting green infrastructure and the intelligent use of water, we can help to cool urban areas and reduce the impact of heatwaves and climate change.

“It also improves community liveability, simply by encouraging people to get outside more, even during summer months.”

Based on the success of the initiative to date, SA Water is looking to expand the technology to more locations around South Australia, including regional areas.

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