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Irrigation Audits

Sprinklers watering a grassy field.
Automated irrigation system.

The Riverside-Corona Resource Conservation District (RCRCD) provides free technical assistance to "cooperators",  and property owners who are interested in conserving their natural resources. Farmers, homeowners, and businesses of the greater Riverside area may be eligible to receive free irrigation evaluations or other resource assistance. Evaluations are provided for all types of urban landscapes that utilize automated systems (timers). The Conservation District has conducted over 1,000 evaluations on more than 10,000 acres since 1987.

The RCRCD's Irrigation Water Management (IWM) Mobile Lab auditor evaluates irrigated sites with operational systems. Irrigation systems are tested for uniformity and efficiency of water delivery.

Is water reaching the intended plants?

If applied too broadly, water is wasted on adjacent surfaces, such as sidewalks, streets, or parking lots. Over spray may be the result of incorrect spray adjustment or arc selection.

If applied too deeply, water moves below the root zone and is lost from plants.

If applied too quickly, water may runoff the surface before it can infiltrate into the soil. Runoff often causes erosion, which creates sediment, a pollutant to local waterways. Most runoff is not from the soil surface but from water being applied to hardscapes.

Is water applied evenly and uniformly?

Image of irrigation auditor in the field at an avocado grove.

Inefficient water use is often the result of leaky, clogged, or worn components or incorrectly installed pipes and sprinklers. Well-designed systems become less effective when mismatched replacement parts are used and when systems are not maintained.

Water pressure is measured to determine its effect on sprinkler and emitter output. Misting may indicate that pressure is too high, while a doughnut shaped water pattern may mean that pressure is too low.

An auditor analyzes system effectiveness, looking for problems such as uneven water distribution. The auditor considers site conditions including system output, plant water-requirements, timing of irrigation, and weather data.

The onsite evaluation determines soil conditions and cultural practices that affect irrigation. A report is developed based on field test data, soils, and weather data. The report indicates potential water savings, deep percolation losses, and maintenance needs.

Image of street curb with sprinkler broken and water overflowing into street.

Property owners and managers, including farmers, ranchers, homeowners, landscape maintenance companies, and contractors may request an evaluation.

If you have questions or have an irrigation system that you would like to have evaluated, please contact Jose Iniguez at (redacted).  Evaluations will be provided free of charge if your property lies within the RCRCD boundaries or within the service area of Western Municipal Water District.  Evaluations are provided on a first-come, first-served basis.

If your property lies within Los Angeles, Orange, or San Bernardino counties, or in other portions of Riverside County, Mobile Lab evaluations can be done for a fee. Fees are based on irrigated acreage or system size. In the past, evaluations have been conducted for Santa Anita Race Track, the Los Angeles Coliseum, Hollywood Park, the City of Irvine, Southern California Edison, and several water districts and municipalities.