3 Ways to Irrigate a New Multi-Level Apartment Complex

May 5, 2023 | Agriculture, Commercial Landscapes, Domestic Gardens, Retirement Villages, Turf

Irrigating landscaped areas in new multi-level apartment complexes has unique challenges when controlling and automating the irrigation system.
 

The first challenge is often to delineate between titled and common areas throughout the building/buildings.

Do you want each apartment to have the ability to control its irrigation system? Do you want body corporate to manage joint and titled areas completely? This question must be answered and will determine how pipework and control cable will be run throughout the building during the early stages of construction.
 

The second challenge concerns the water supply to the irrigation system.

Many multi-story developments now have a hydraulic consultant designing the water supply pipework throughout the building. Many opt to install a rainwater harvesting system to feed toilet cisterns and irrigation throughout the building. The essential consideration that needs to be made when a rainwater harvesting system is installed is to ensure the duty of the chosen pump closely matches the availability of pressure and flow in the potable water supply. This consideration is often needed when designing the irrigation system. The supplied pump has excellent pressure and flow, yet when the rainwater tank runs out of water, and the system flicks over to the potable water supply, adequate pressure is often needed in the potable main. This is what the irrigation system requires to function better. The irrigation system must be designed to operate from the available flows available from the pump and potable supply.
 
From experience, many pump/changeover device systems that Hydraulic Consultants specify are from AKS industries and all purpose pumps.
 

The third Challenge is a construction and programming challenge.

Simply put, the design and installation of the irrigation system are often left until the 11th hour of a construction program. Hard surfaces and finishes have already been installed. Cabling has yet to be established to automate the irrigation system. And the only option is the installation of battery timers. This will cause frustration when managing the irrigation system for the rest of the life of the irrigation system.
 
What are your options when installing an irrigation system in a multistory unit/apartment complex?
 

There are a lot of options. But here are 3. The good, The bad, The ugly (but with a good personality)

 

1. The “GOOD” option. (Do the irrigation rough early in the construction of the building)

  • For Common areas
 
– Install a separate irrigation main with a flow sensor and master valve that feeds all common irrigated areas throughout the building/gardens
 
– Run a 2-wire decoder cable alongside the mainline and loop into all irrigated areas
 
-Choose a decoder controller that will allow remote access and adjustment to the irrigation program based on local weather. (Hunter Hydrawise EZ decoder system, Rain Bird IQ Cloud, Rainbird IQ4, Hunter Centralis, or similar.)
 
  • For titled areas
 
–  Install a separate irrigation main with a flow sensor and master valve downstream of each private water meter (on the rainwater supply meter).
 
            – Run a multicore cable alongside the irrigation mainline. And loop into all irrigated areas
 
            -Choose an enabled controller that can be installed close to the modem within the property (Hunter Hydrawise, Rain Bird ESP-Me)
 

2. The ”BAD” option (Have the site plumber run a shared rainwater supply to all irrigated areas with no Cable)

Install “tap timers” or battery-operated valves throughout the site.  To make this a terrible option, ensure you have an apprentice or gardener to set all the controllers to come on simultaneously, Ensuring the irrigation system’s complete ineffectiveness. (I have seen this happen.)
 
 Unfortunately, many sites choose to install these battery controllers everywhere throughout the site. It is challenging to manage adequate watering of the area with a battery timer
 

3. The ”Ugly” option (Like option 2. Have the site plumber run a shared rainwater supply to all irrigated areas with no Cable. But use some new technology to manage watering)

 This option may be pretty ugly.
 
It is with the use of a product called Linktap. It’s a battery timer. But with some fantastic features that make it super powerful.
 
Each Link Tap can be linked to a wireless gateway (Connected to a modem) that can allow flow monitoring, adjustments according to weather conditions, and remote access via an app. Each titled area would be able to have its own account, and the standard room could have a separate account. This option IMHO offers builders, developers, body corporates, and apartment owners excellent value.
 
We have recently been trialing the link tap and love it. If you have a site with a rainwater harvesting system feeding toilet cisterns and irrigated areas, The link may be worth consideration!
 
You will need modem/s to use the linktap. And there are some other considerations to make. Give us a call if you want some help setting up Linktap across your site

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