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  • Writer's pictureJeff Robbins

Rainwater Harvesting System in University City

We all know that San Diego is a desert and know we should be reducing our water use. In fact, around 50% of San Diego’s residential and commercial water use goes to irrigation outdoor landscapes. One of the best ways to minimize water usage with out significantly changing your day to day lifestyle is to update to a more efficient irrigation system. I’m going to share with you a few recent irrigating projects we completed.

One project in University City had an old irrigation and drainage system that watered a backyard lawn. The home had a nice flat and clean roof so we decided to install a rainwater harvesting system. We put in a new gutter system and (4) 200 gallon tanks on the side of their house. With their 1000 sq. foot roof we were now able to collect approximately 600 gallons of water for each inch of rainfall. San Diego averages around 10 inches each year. To link the rainwater tanks into the irrigation we installed a new valve and pump mechanism. Now when their irrigation turns on, via their timer box, water is pumped from the rainwater tanks. If the tanks are empty the water is automatically pumped from the city source. We decided to route these irrigation lines to avocado, loquat, peach, and nectarine trees. Not only did we set up a system that collects fresh water but our clients get to benefit from their fruit tree production!

The second project, located at a beautiful house on Mt. Soledad La Jolla, was an adaptation from an old overhead sprinkler system that was being used to irrigate a small apple and citrus fruit tree orchard. We made recommendations to these clients to convert their sprinklers to a drip emitter system. Without removing any hard lines, we were able to unscrew the sprinklers and convert to a drip irrigation system. We ran several lines of poly tubing under a few inches of mulch near to the fruit trees. From there we plugged in 1/4’’ line and ran three individual emitters to each fruit tree. The beauty of this system is that you know exactly how much water is being emitted for each fruit tree, you can easily move the emitters out to encourage root growth, and you target the roots specifically and don’t spray the tree with water. This conversion had additional benefits for these clients. They now use less water, have reduced landscape runoff since the orchard was on a hill, and have reduced their tree’s risk from disease and rot caused by excess moisture. It was a simple and low cost conversion that made all the difference for their orchard.

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