January 24, 2011

Rain, freeze sensors help avoid road hazards, according to a Texas AgriLife Extension specialist

By: Mike Jackson, 972-952-9232  
Contact(s): Dr. Dotty Woodson, 972-952-9688, d-woodson@tamu.edu  
DALLAS – Recent freezing temperatures and sprinkler systems have combined to create icy, hazardous driving conditions in some North Texas areas, but these problems can be avoided by installing rain and freeze sensors on irrigation systems, said Dr. Dotty Woodson, Texas AgriLife Extension program specialist for water resources.

The sensors are designed to shut off automatic sprinkler systems during rain or when temperatures drop below freezing, she said. They can be purchased at most places where irrigation equipment is sold. They range in price from about $60 to $90.

Irrigation systems can be turned off simply by the turn of a dial, but problems have occurred most often around commercial properties on weekends or overnight when no one was available to turn off the sprinklers as temperatures dropped below freezing, Woodson said. Major roads and side streets have been covered with ice as a result.

"If no one is available to turn off the system, a rain and freeze sensor will prevent a hazardous situation or wasting water," she said.

New irrigation rules in many communities in the Dallas-Fort Worth area require all new systems be fitted with the sensors, Woodson said. Some cities are also requiring that they be installed on older systems.

"Businesses should have this responsibility written in the contract with their property management or landscape company," Woodson said.

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