Making the switch to high-efficiency sprinkler heads

Help customers save some bucks while saving water
The price and availability of high-efficiency sprinkler heads have improved over the years. (Photo: Chenjingpo2004, Dreamstime)

The summer watering season is in full swing and makes for a good opportunity to evaluate your customers’ sprinkler systems. It might be time for an upgrade.

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Irrigation systems have come a long way over the past 20 years,” said Jeff Tejral, water efficiency manager at Denver Water. “We’re encouraging homeowners, businesses and local governments to replace their old, fixed-spray-head sprinkler nozzles with high-efficiency rotary heads.”

Fixed-spray-head nozzles are the most common types of sprinkler heads out there, but they throw large amounts of water up in the air as a mist.

“The biggest problem with fixed-spray heads is that they put out water faster than our hard clay soil can absorb it,” Tejral said. “The other issue is if there’s wind, the smaller droplets from the spray can blow away and not fall where you want it.”

These problems can lead to brown spots in customers’ landscapes due to uneven coverage. But modern, rotary nozzle sprinkler heads can help.

“Rotary nozzles spray larger water droplets that are heavier and fall to the ground rather than blowing away if there’s wind,” Tejral said. “They also send out water at a much slower rate, so the ground has more time to absorb it.”

High-efficiency sprinkler heads deliver multiple rotating streams of water. Proper use requires them to run longer, but because they don’t put out as much water, they use the same or less water than fixed-spray heads.

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“The big benefit is that you’re getting water where it needs to go at a better flow rate. That’s going to make the sprinklers more efficient and reduce waste,” Tejral said.

The price of high-efficiency rotary sprinkler heads has come down over the years, according to Tejral, and they are also more available to the public. Prices range from roughly $5 to $7 per nozzle. By comparison, typical fixed-spray heads range from $1.50 to $3 per nozzle.

Many water utilities throughout Colorado offer rebates on irrigation equipment that conserves water. For example, Denver Water offers rebates on select models of high-efficiency rotary sprinkler heads, which can be found at home improvement and irrigation supply stores. Denver Water customers can receive a one-time, $3-per-head rebate on purchases of 10 to 100 heads. Landscapers who install these types of sprinkler heads should provide customers with an itemized bill showing equipment purchased on their behalf to submit with the rebate application.

“Half of Denver Water’s overall water use is for outdoor irrigation, so it’s important that our customers water their landscapes as efficiently as possible,” Tejral said. “Water is scarce in the West, so by switching sprinkler nozzles, you can have a great-looking yard and help protect our water supply.”

Jay Adams is a videographer and writer at Denver Water.

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