On a thick plot of grass behind the headquarters of a water district office in Claremont, a high-tech attempt at water conservation has begun in the semi-desert of the eastern San Gabriel Valley.
A computerized weather station records data on seven weather elements, then feeds the information to those who irrigate the biggest urban and suburban water consumers: golf courses, cemeteries and school playgrounds. Water is saved when water consumers, using information from the station, learn how much to irrigate, and when.
Water officials unveiled the station at a recent dedication ceremony.
Water experts say the use of such stations could save millions of gallons of water each year in Southern California. Phillip E. Hitchcock, in charge of the program for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, estimates the savings could total as much as 50,000 acre feet a year. One acre foot equals 326,000 gallons.
"It's not a huge amount, but it is significant," Hitchcock said.
The Claremont field is similar to more than 70 others throughout the state. Each station relays its data to a central computer in Sacramento, and users of the system can, by computer, access daily weather and irrigation information from the station in their area.
Metropolitan provides water to 14.7 million residents in six counties and helped the Three Valleys Municipal Water District, based in Claremont, purchase and install its station. For the last two years the state Department of Water Resources has overseen the program, known as the California Irrigation Management Information System.