Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Passing the savings on to you: Miami-Dade’s Landscape Irrigation Evaluation Program resets for 2015

Everyone likes an attractive, welcoming landscape, and you can have this while still being efficient with your water-use outdoors. Miami-Dade Water and Sewer and UF/IFAS Miami–Dade’s Urban Conservation Unit are here to get you on your way to water savings.

For 2014-2015, the Landscape Irrigation Evaluation Program (LIEP) has retained many of the incentives that homeowners and large properties throughout Miami-Dade are benefitting from. Just recently a large property in Brickell Key reported a 67% reduction on its irrigation bill! How were these savings achieved?

Right idea, wrong delivery: Planters can sometimes be an invitation to waste water
Participation in the LIEP for large properties translates to rebates of up to $2850 - a portion of which can go to repairs,  the bulk of which targets efficiency upgrades (such as the spray heads to drip line retrofit pictured below).

From risers above to micro below: drip irrigation delivers water slowly and directly to the root zone 
To complement those incentives, large properties are also assigned a weather-based timer to replace the current timer. These cutting-edge, smart devices use weather and landscape specifics to calculate irrigation run times daily, while also abiding by our local watering restrictions. Watch the video below to learn how the LIEP helped other properties bring their water expenses under control.

Single family homes are still very much the LIEP’s bread and butter. Nothing satisfies the UCU more than landing on your doorstep, running your irrigation system and telling you about the wide spectrum of water saving, rebate-worthy opportunities available for residential systems. Florida-friendly plant installs, large rainwater capture systems, even the latest Wi-Fi based, remotely accessible smart timers - the LIEP rebates all of these water saving attitudes.

Outdoor water-saving practices: a top 7 tips list
And if you’re anxious to preview how a smart timer can work for you, download UF’s free smart irrigation turf app. It’s programmed similar to a smart device and recommends adjustments to your watering schedule based on weather conditions just like a smart device does.

Get started saving water today. Find more information about participating in the Landscape Irrigation Evaluation Program here, print and mail/email a program contract below. or contact us at the office directly.

Single Family Home Contract                    Large Property Contract 

Jesus Lomeli
305-248-3311 ext. 246

By Guest Blogger

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Rain Barrel/Water Conservation Workshop in Spanish /Barriles de Lluvia y Conservación de Agua!

Continuing a great conservation partnership with our friends at Citizens for a Better South Florida, we are excited to present our first Rain Barrel/Water Conservation Workshop in Spanish on Saturday, September 13th. And since it is getting closer to our prime vegetable gardening season we will share cuttings from our shadehouse garden with folks at this workshop. Click on the plant photos for additional information on these simple and easy to grow drought tolerant plants that will thrive all year in South Florida.

Cuban Oregano
Okinawa Spinach
Red-Leafed Hibiscus
For additional information on the Barriles de Lluvia y Conservaci√≥n de Agua contact Lize at (305) 248-3311 EXT. 242

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Award winning team!

Our very own Florida Yards and Neighborhoods/ Urban Conservation Unit  is very honored  and proud to announce that the National Association of Counties (NACo) awarded our program with a “2014 Achievement Award” for Innovative Approaches to Conserve Water and Create Sustainable Landscapes in the category of ­­­­­­­­­Environmental Protection and Energy.
Our goal is to educate homeowners, school children, landscape maintenance staff, property managers, builders, developers, irrigation contractors, government, and private entities about the importance of water conservation and sustainable landscape practices. The following three arms at work help foster an ethic of conservation in our Miami-Dade community.
The three arms at work

With an amazing and hard working team, greater accomplishments are yet to come. We enjoy our work and appreciate the recognition.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Citizens for a Better South Florida Cistern Preparation Project Phase 2- Drip line irrigation

The cool breeze of Miami in early March was definitely a good time to complete the second phase of the Cistern project at the Citizens for a Better South Florida Bungalow. Once again the Urban Conservation Unit(UCU) joined forces with the University of Miami’s (UM) Engineers without Borders volunteers. The day's goal: install the drip line irrigation for the cistern-based system.
UF-UCU talks with UM Engineers without Borders!
We had the opportunity to listen to certified professionals Kevin Cavioli and Spencer Phillips explain different aspects of working with drip line.
Kevin talks drip!
Spencer lays out the plan
Drip irrigation is by far the best way to water shrubs, ornamental or trees because the water is dispensed at the root of the plant which is exactly where we want it.
Drip line
Though not as intense as digging trenches and cutting pipe, the day's labor was worth it. After the drip irrigation was installed, the lines were tested to check for clogs and also to ensure that all connections were correctly attached.
Drip line test
The UCU is excited to be part of this project, not only did we get to learn a few new skills in drip installation from the pro's but we also enjoyed very much working alongside great groups like Citizens for a Better South Florida and the UM Engineers without Borders. We'll definitely return to do our part for the final phases of work.

(images: Michael Gutierrezwater resources technician with UF/IFAS in the Ag & Bio Engineering Dept.)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Citizens for a Better South Florida Cistern Preparation Project

In January I put down my clipboard and picked up some PVC pipe for an innovative irrigation project at the Citizens for a Better South Florida Bungalow located in Little Havana. When finished, this effort is going to be a monument to conservation for all of Miami to enjoy. Work is currently underway and of course the Urban Conservation Unit (UCU) is assisting every step of the way. 

The project is centered on an old, underground rainwater collection cistern. The cistern will be used as the main water source for irrigation at the site. 

Cistern located at the Citizens for a Better South Florida Bungalow 
The irrigation layout includes a weather-based irrigation timer, the landscape grouped into hydro-zones, and temporary, low-volume irrigation. Initially, the system will be used to establish new, low-maintenance and native plants and later only in the event of extreme drought. It will also serve to demonstrate for visitors and the community that, with a little planning, re-used water can fuel an efficient irrigation design.

Jesus Lomeli (UCU tech) talks smart irrigation
After a half-day of trenching and pipe-laying, phase one of the cistern preparation project is complete. All of this was only possible thanks to the large volunteer turnout from University of Miami’s Engineers without Borders and help from a water tech from UF

Volunteers trenching it up!
We'll definitely keep you posted as the project moves forward.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2014: The Year of Watering Efficiently

Smart irrigation controllers have grown in popularly in the recent years. The Urban Conservation Unit (UCU) believes that new technology like smart irrigation controllers can not only reduce water-use significantly but also maintain a wonderful, stress free landscape.
Weather based irrigation controller
However, many are still on the fence on whether to upgrade their irrigation timers to a smart controller. Well, if that’s you, UF's new mobile smart irrigation turf app will make you a believer. Available free at your favorite app store, the smart turf app allows you to mimic a smart controller with a mobile device by sending you alerts on how much time to set on your irrigation timer as well as when to turn it off, just like having a smart controller in the palm of your hand! Once you note the water savings for yourself using the smart turf app, you may be more willing to install an actual smart controller at your property.

The UCU can help you decide which smart controller suits your property best as well as recommend other ways to maximize water savings. If you live in Miami-Dade County and are considering installing a smart irrigation controller for your property, contact the UCU right now. Phone, twitter, facebook or email, we're here to help!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Dear John Letter to St. Augustine Grass

This New Year's, send a Dear John letter to St. Augustine grass.
"Dear St. Augustine Grass:
"I know we've been together for a long time. When I first let you into my life, it seemed like a good idea -- you looked great and I was getting a lot of pressure to start a relationship with you.
"But now, I look out my window and see you sprawled out across my yard and I realize that you're high maintenance, you drink too much, and you have an unhealthy relationship with the landscapers; I see them give you those chemicals.
"What I'm saying is that it's not me, it's you, and ... I'm going native. Yes, this is the right decision. I've been talking to my friends the manatees, dolphins, fish, and birds and they agree with me; we're all sooo over you."
It's that time of year to start pondering New Year's resolutions. One fantastic thing you can do for Florida's environment is to convert your yard to Florida-friendly landscaping. This cuts down on water use, which protects Florida's rivers and aquifer; reduces fertilizer use, which protects our coastal waters; and provides habitat for wildlife.
If you live in an apartment complex or an HOA that just won't budge, install a rain barrel, a compost bin, and plant native species of flowers, trees, and shrubs in those areas over which you do have control, and talk to your neighbors and management about making changes to the property that could lower maintenance fees.
The University of Florida IFAS Extension offices can help provide tips and resources. Find your local office at The website also contains great information.
If we all resolve to do a little more, we'll make a big difference for this beautiful state we call home.
Dr. Katie Tripp, Save the Manatee Club Maitland, Florida

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