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Civic Association Director Steve Ross is saving water and money using an Advanced Irrigation System

Civic Association Director Steve Ross is saving water and money using an Advanced Irrigation System

“When I get to work everyday, I look forward to it. It’s a beautiful place to work. It’s unbelievable. It’s very different from working in an office all day. It’s just a great place to work.” says Alberto Cano, property manager for the Town of Palm Beach Steve Ross residence.

Who wouldn’t want a job with gorgeous views like these? And, for Alberto, his job is to make sure these views remain gorgeous. His job, like most on beachfront property with occasional harsh weather, is a constant challenge.

“I’ve got to be on top of everything ...  keeping costs down and still keeping the place looking beautiful, at it’s best, and making sure the gardeners and the staff do what they need to do … keeping everything perfect here.”


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Alberto routinely walks these three-acre grounds to make sure every section is getting the proper attention.

“Obviously a place like this takes a lot of water to irrigate.”

These days, sprinklers pop up in 19 customized zones throughout this historic property; but, only when they’re needed.  It wasn’t always this efficient. Not long ago, Mr. Ross asked Alberto to find a way to reduce water consumption.  He heard about some new technology that might help.  Alberto recognized a need to save water, reduce watering costs, all while trying to cut down on brown spots.  The problem?  The old, timer system had a sensor that shut off whenever it rained.

West side of the Steve Ross property that uses Advanced Irrigation

West side of the Steve Ross property that uses Advanced Irrigation

“That has been a problem for many years because what happens is if we get a little rain the sensor turns off and we start getting dry areas throughout the property.”

But that no longer happens after he decided to install an advanced irrigation system.

“I found a company, called Ugmo. They had an amazing system where they bury sensors throughout the property.”

It’s a self-contained unit with a soil moisture sensor.  It has batteries and computer transmitter. It usually gets buried in the grass about four inches down. The batteries last about five years. And if there’s ever a problem with the battery, it would automatically send a signal to the main receiver.

“We have about 19 of these units throughout the property. You use one for each zone.”

So, now … only the zone that needs water … gets water.

“The sensors transmit to the main computer every 10 minutes or so and it measures the moisture in the ground.”

“The sensor that’s in the shade will not allow it to water because there’s still water in the ground, yet the sensor in the sun will allow the system to water that zone.”

The impact on water use, shown in the water bill, was immediate.

“The savings have been about 60 percent. That’s quite a bit. When you have a yard this size that’s a lot of money.”

Sixty percent savings in cost and that means tens of thousands of gallons of water savings a year from just this one property. And, as for the original investment?

Click to find out more about UgMO, a Civic Association Corporate Sponsor

Click to find out more about UgMO, a Civic Association Corporate Sponsor

“The system paid for itself well within the first year. If everybody would do this on the island, the savings in water conservation would be amazing.”

Projections by the Palm Beach Civic Association estimate yearly water savings on the island would be a BILLION gallons if most homeowners install advanced irrigation.

Those who install these systems can apply for a variance with the town that would exempt them from most water restrictions. Ironically, if everyone does this, restrictions may not even be necessary in the future.

“I highly recommend all property managers to look at this company and install a system like this on their properties. Even if it wasn’t about the water usage, the result on the lawn is amazing. You’re saving about 60% of the water usage and you get a much greener lawn to go with it.”


The Civic Association Public Awareness Campaign

Please consider installing an “advanced irrigation system” (AIS) on your property to save money and help Palm Beach conserve water.


To further water conservation, the Town recently passed an ordinance that will give you a variance from day-of-week watering restrictions if you have an AIS installed.  That means no more code enforcement fines and your system will water only when your landscaping needs it.


Why is this important even now when we have just had lots of rain?  Wet weather actually wastes more water than drought periods because chances are your rain gauge (if any) doesn’t work and even when it does, your system will continue to water excessively in the days immediately before and following rain.  AIS corrects that problem.


How to Get the Town Variance from Day-of-Week Watering Restrictions

It’s pretty easy. Follow the links to the Town of Palm Beach documents to help you apply for the town variance from day-of-the-week water restrictions:

Advanced Irrigation Variance Program Letter from the Town of Palm Beach

Advanced Irrigation Variance Application [for Property Owner or Manager]

Advanced Irrigation Variance Certification [for Irrigation Contractor]

Frequently Asked Questions


To proceed, call your irrigation contractor—he/she is very aware of the new ordinance and expert in AIS installations. But be encouraged to speak to Mike Brown at the Palm Beach Civic Association if you need further information or clarification.

Please consider joining the Town of Palm Beach and Civic Association in this conservation effort by installing an AIS at your property and making it another showcase for Palm Beach.  Your leadership in this area would be so valuable.  If you would take this important step, many others in the community would surely follow.