In the Fruitvale School District, located in northwest Bakersfield, California, Brian Prine has been Director of Maintenance, Operations and Transportation, for almost 11 years. Brian oversees the irrigation of six different campuses in this region. When state requirements forced him to cut his watering time from 6 days a week to 3 days a week, the results were soon evident. The turf on some of the grounds and fields turned brown and, in localized areas, disappeared altogether. One of the campuses, the Discovery Elementary School, was particularly troublesome. The soil there was clay-based and the lack of water was slowly turning the ground to brick.
Before the drought restrictions were imposed, Prine used to water the grounds 6 days a week in the summer. Now, he is limited to 3 days of watering per week. “I can’t increase my watering,” said Prine. “And because my campus is so big, I need the full watering time allotted to me. So I had to find a solution that could keep the soil and turf healthy, using half as much water.” However, after doing some research, Prine was hard-pressed to find a solution that was within his budget. “I could use a ‘liquid gypsum’ product on the grounds that has been known to work. But the cost was beyond what my budget allowed. The cost of one year’s worth of applications would be $7,860, and that’s not even considering the added expenses of of time and labor needed to apply the wetting agent about every other month.”
Prine also heard about a water treatment product from a company called Magnation Water Technologies, which claimed to save water, support healthy soil and grass and eliminate the need for wetting agents. Figuring that it was worth a try, he put Magnation to the test on his most problematic campus. He found that the Magnation system could easily be integrated with his existing irrigation set-up at the Discovery School. The company claimed that the product can last for as long as 15 years without needing replacement. The cost? $3400. Compared to the $7860 for one application of a wetting solution that would only cover one year, it was well worth the trial, according to Prine.
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