Homeowners associations, golf courses and others who manage landscapes and irrigation in South Orange County can now get more accurate weather information than ever before, thanks to Santa Margarita Water District’s new state-certified weather station at the Talega Golf Course in San Clemente.
The station is part of SMWD's public outreach and capital-improvement plans to build a more water-efficient district during California's epic drought and meet the state-mandated 24 percent reduction in water use. Santa Margarita Water District's customers are responding to the SMWD's outreach efforts: Water use was down 28 percent in June and 36 percent in July, according to preliminary figures.
The station is just the second in Orange County that is part of the statewide California Irrigation Management Information System (CIMIS). CIMIS is a network of more than 145 weather stations managed by the Department of Water Resources (DWR). The system was developed in 1982 by the department and UC Davis to assist irrigators in managing water resources as efficiently as possible.
CIMIS weather stations collect weather data on a minute-by-minute basis. A computer at the DWR headquarters in Sacramento calls every station starting at midnight Pacific Standard Time (PST) and retrieves data at predetermined time intervals. Hourly and daily values are calculated and stored in a database available free to the public online athttp://www.cimis.water.ca.gov
Orange County’s only other station today is in Irvine. Irvine’s climate can vary drastically from that in South Orange County so the addition of a weather station within the SMWDs service area to the CIMIS network is of great benefit for local water management.
The San Clemente station is the first of three planned station installations by SMWD, which expressed appreciation to the leadership of Talega Golf Club for allowing placement of the station there. The District is working to place the remaining stations in the Coto de Caza and Rancho Santa Margarita areas to ensure customers can retrieve the most precise weather information possible. The stations measure several weather variables, which are used to calculate evapotranspiration (ET). ET is the combined processes of evaporation of water from the soil and plant surfaces and transpiration of water through plant tissues – a critical measurement of how much water a landscape needs.
Providing the most accurate weather information possible to SMWD’s customers is critical as SMWD works to meet its 24 percent reduction goal by improving outdoor water use management. Although homeowners associations and other large irrigation accounts make up just 5 percent of the District’s 56,000 connections, they use 35 percent of the District’s water. System-wide, outdoor water use makes up more than half of SMWD’s total demand.
The Santa Margarita Water District is the second-largest in Orange County, providing water and wastewater service to 154,000 residents in Rancho Santa Margarita, Ladera Ranch, Coto de Caza, Sendero, Talega and part of Mission Viejo.