by Charlene Burgi
Mrs. Magilicutti is a fictitious character that I typically refer to when teaching about irrigation. Her character loves plants and commonly tucks them hither and yon in her garden without thought to sun exposure or watering needs. The concept of hydrozoning would be foreign to her way of thinking. As a result, Mrs. Magilicutti is frequently replacing plants that succumb to her lack of knowledge.
During class, I often warn landscape professionals about Mrs. Magilicutti’s methods and her requests for irrigating her new posies. Her plans—or lack thereof—can wreak havoc on a well-designed irrigation system. Typically she will ask an unsuspecting landscaper to tie into an existing irrigation line to water her new-found treasures, or should I say victims. Her approach gives no thought as to whether there is enough water pressure to travel the distance, or if the irrigation station is already using the maximum amount of water available to irrigate the plants efficiently. Just adding one more spray head could prevent the existing sprays from reaching their targeted area, leaving plants high and dry.
Mrs. Magilicutti is also unaware of the need to use backflow prevention devices to protect public water. She will request that a landscaper use a nearby water faucet for a drip system without first installing an anti-siphon device. Little does she realize that her dog squatting over a drip emitter or nozzle could result in partial remains of his marked territory being sucked into the public water supply. Yuck! And even if a very wise landscape professional installed a backflow device on her property, does Mrs. Magilicutti know she needs to get that device inspected on an annual basis?
I warn that Mrs. Magilicutti not only likes pretty plants, but is also attracted to new irrigation products. For example, she will be the first to ask her landscaper to install a smart irrigation controller. While a smart controller can be a great investment, little does she realize that the controller is only as smart as the design of her irrigation system. The smart controller is designed to work with efficient systems to optimize water savings and plant health. Mrs. Magilicutti’s irrigation system is far from effective or efficient. Over the years she has added to the existing system in her garden, mixing drip lines with spray heads, mixing and matching different types of spray nozzles, watering shade- and sun-loving plants on the same station, and irrigating plants on a steep hillside at the same time as plants on a level area. Additionally, her new smart controller can’t know that the water spraying on the street isn’t going on the root systems of her plants. Alas, poor Mrs. Magilicutti will not be happy with her smart controller until she recognizes the need to create hydrozones and allow landscape professionals to calculate and implement the hydraulics for an efficient irrigation system. Only then will her smart controller be able to do its job properly.
Is your irrigation system in need of a tune-up? Remember that your irrigation system is as mechanical as your automobile. So celebrate Smart Irrigation Month by getting your system running efficiently, and then consider installing one of my favorite irrigation products—a smart irrigation controller. As a bonus for your efforts to water smart, right now you can get a 20-percent-off coupon for a WaterSense labeled smart irrigation controller from The Urban Farmer Store in Mill Valley. Through our “Look for the Label” campaign, MMWD has teamed up with Urban Farmer and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense program to make it easier for MMWD customers to purchase WaterSense labeled smart controllers. Just click here for more information and to print your coupon.
Reminder: Special Book Launch Event at Book Passage July 26
We are celebrating our centennial with the publication of Images of America: Mount Tamalpais and the Marin Municipal Water District, a photo history book by MMWD Director Jack Gibson. Join us for a reading, reception and book signing at Book Passage in Corte Madera on Thursday, July 26, at 7:00 p.m. Part of the proceeds from books sold by Book Passage benefit a fund to protect the Mt. Tamalpais Watershed.