Water watcher: Tech uses weather to meter irrigation more wisely

Jeepers, it’s hot today in New Jersey. We’re having one of those gorgeous northeast Indian summer experiences.

Jeepers, it’s hot today in New Jersey. We’re having one of those gorgeous northeast Indian summer experiences. My neighbor even broke down and watered the lawn (I could hear the grass next door going into shock, it’s been so long since they’ve used a sprinkler over there.)

It seems apt, then, to write today about HydroPoint Data Systems, which this week received an investment “worth millions” from Sustainable Development Investments, which is part of the mega-huge Citi financial services organization. Earlier this year, the company raised $19 million in private equity funding from a group led by Rockport Capital Partners.

HydroPoint CEO Chris Spain likes to talk about his company’s vision as the missing link, the “ugly stepchild of resources” in the green tech movement. “You can always make more energy, you can’t make more water,” he says.

HydroPoint’s main product is a technology called WeatherTRAK, which Spain describes as a smart water management system. The system controllers work using local weather data. So, if your town is getting a downpour, the sprinklers won’t come on. (How many times have you seen yards where the sprinklers are on during a rain shower.) Conversely, if there’s a particularly dry spell, the irrigation will be metered a little bit differently, so as to optimize soak-in and prevent things like mud slides.

The company has some pretty impressive customers including AMD and Amazon, and it has roughly 11,000 controllers under management at both commercial concerns (ala the companies above) and at homes. In certain towns in California, for example, residents who choose to install the controllers can get a break on their water bill. Similar programs are under way in Arizona, Colorado and Washington in partnership with home builders.

You could argue about whether or not what HydroPoint is doing is green tech, but the fact is, plant life is key to aiding our fight against greenhouse emissions. If your garden is being fried by drought, it isn’t helping matters. And when you consider that roughly 58 percent of all urban water usage goes to landscaping (a figure that HydroPoint tosses about), it’s in our interest to address this.

If you still don’t agree, consider this stat: The California Energy Commission estimates that 19 percent of California’s energy and 30 percent of its natural gas usage are diverted into supplying the state’s water.

Water and green tech go hand in hand.