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MMWD Blog: Think Blue Marin

Welcome to our blog! Written by staff at MMWD, “Think Blue Marin” explores all things water in south and central Marin—water supplies, conservation, new projects, watershed management, and more.

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Oct 14

Irrigation Components

Posted on October 14, 2016 at 10:44 AM by Emma Detwiler

By Charlene Burgi

A friend came over to the ranch in Lassen this morning to help me winterize the outdoor plumbing and install various heaters to prevent water from freezing in the troughs for the horses and donkeys.

The process seemed simple enough, until a 3/4 inch plug was requested and the hunt was on. If you have ever walked through an irrigation supply business, or just sauntered down the irrigation aisle at a hardware store you understand what I faced.

Within the business existed buckets of various irrigation components in sizes ranging from 3/4 inch to 4 inch diameters. PVC tees were mixed with street ells, couplers, 90's, caps and slip fixes - to name a few. Other buckets contained drip components too numerous to mention. It would take a long time to find what we needed and I recognized it would be faster to drive somewhere to buy a new plug than spend hours trying to locate one in the dozens of buckets filled with PVC parts. Mentally I put those buckets on my bucket list to organize - a worthy winter project.
Sample of irrigation parts
You might ask why the need for all those parts and pieces? Irrigation systems require having spare parts in case there is a break. Typically people only need a slip fix or compression coupler for a broken pipe equal to the size of pipe they have in the ground. On occasion, a riser will break that holds up a sprinkler. Even a few nozzles held in supply are good insurance in the event of breakage. Drip systems frequently throw off a drip emitter, pop an end cap or find a split in the tubing. Spare parts are needed.

The key to being prepared for these water wasting leaks is knowing what you have and matching the component to your irrigation system. For example, if your sprinklers are spraying out 15 feet, you would want to have the same brand nozzle that also sprays 15 feet at the ready if replacement is needed.

Matching brands is important since each company produces nozzles that may emit the same amount of water but they are constructed to produce a different amount of gallons per minute if it is an overhead spray system. By mixing and matching brands, your irrigation system will cause an uneven spray pattern. Equal water sprayed for each valve is known as distribution uniformity. You will find your garden thriving, running efficiently and effectively as if it was raining outside by matching nozzles to what exists on the system, matching the spray pattern and the distance the water sprays.

Sizes and manufactures matter
Have you checked your irrigation system lately? Do you have any leaks or breaks? Do you have the necessary irrigation components to make repairs or are you also facing vast quantities of mixed and matched parts? Worse still - perhaps there are no parts that exist to fix the problem.

Have a great weekend, and don't forget, the California Native Plant sale is this Saturday!

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