By Jeff Wagner

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Earth Day has people thinking about ways to help the environment, and one way to do that is by using less water.

It’s the time of year when lots of people are thinking about their lawns. Mother Nature won’t always water it for you, but a smart technology sprinkler system will.

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“It’s just going to save time, water and money,” said Ryan Popp, who works for Birch, a property maintenance company.

Birch installs irrigation systems that connect to the internet. The system uses the forecast to determine how much water your lawn needs.

“People will set that program up, and kind of let it do its thing all summer long, and what the smart controller will do is automatically make those adjustments so you don’t have to,” Popp said.

The system can cut water usage by almost a third. That’s exactly why the homeowner’s association at Water’s Edge in Hugo use it.

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“The system is operating on what the land needs, not necessarily running aimlessly and brainlessly. The smart system thinks for us,” said Karri Ross, community manager for Gaughan Companies.

Water usage at the 1,000-unit property has dropped 25 to 30 percent, and homeowners have noticed.

“Yes, you may see that the irrigation isn’t running for three or four days because the water table, the amount of water that’s there, the moisture in the air – it’s not necessary,” Ross said.

The smart sprinkler system isn’t just for large properties like Water’s Edge. Single-family homeowners can use it, too.

“They are still going to be using 100-120 thousand gallons, you know, annually with their system. If you can save 30 percent of that, you’re still talking about $150-$200 per year,” Popp said.

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This smart sprinkler systems cost about $500 dollars. Birch says it usually takes about two to three years to earn that money back in water bill savings.

Jeff Wagner