• Welcome to our site

    Greetings!  Thanks for visiting our site.  Please have a look around, there’s lots of good information in here not only about our company, but about irrigation systems in general.  Feel free to contact me if you have any questions, or would like us to provide you with a free estimate for an irrigation system.

    Best regards,

    Mike Isacson, CIC, CID, CIT (what do these letters mean? Click here to find out!)

    Owner, Island Waterwise Irrigation Inc.

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  • Time to Winterize

    It’s almost time to winterize your sprinklers!  Throughout October and November, we will be providing this service to our customers throughout the Greater Victoria area, from Sidney to Sooke, and on the Gulf Islands as well.  Winterization involves blowing all the water out of your sprinkler system in order to prevent damage from freezing.  Island Waterwise Irrigation offers complete residential and commercial services, at very competitive rates. 

    Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about winterizing, or would like to schedule a winterizing service for your system.

    Best regards,

    Mike Isacson, CIC, CID, CIT, CLIA, CIS, CCCT (what do these letters mean? Click here to find out!)

    Owner, Island Waterwise Irrigation Inc.

     

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  • Spring is around the corner...

    Greetings everyone,

    Thanks for visiting our site.  As I write this on a beautiful sunny day in early February, I’m reminded that spring will be here before we know it.  We’ll be starting our annual spring start-ups in March, where we thoroughly inspect our customers’ systems to ensure everything is in good working order, and make any necessary repairs and adjustments.  At Island Waterwise, we provide top-notch, friendly service year-round, and without any messy contracts to sign.  We can also put you on a free e-mail list, where we’ll update you regularly on when to adjust the “Seasonal Adjustment” feature most modern irrigation controllers have.  This allows you to make easy, one-step universal adjustments to your irrigation program throughout the season, according to weather conditions.  Because your plants don’t need as much water in early June as they do in late July!

    If you’re interested in having us do your irrigation system start-up here, please contact us.  We offer great service, at very competitive rates.

    Best regards,

    Mike Isacson, CIC, CID, CIT, CLIA, CIS, CCCT (what do these letters mean? Click here to find out!)


     

     

     

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  • Time to Winterize

    I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels like this was "the summer that wasn't."  Fall, on the other hand, is definitely here.  So it's time for everyone to turn their irrigation system controllers to the "Off" setting.  We'll begin winterizing our customers' systems next week, and that will go through well into November.  You can learn more about winterizing here. Some people do try to get away without winterizing, and certainly we get through some winters without an extended cold snap that can damage irrigation system components.  But we often don't, including 2 of the last 3 years.  And freeze damage repairs can be costly, so it's a wise investment to ensure that doesn't happen.

    Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about winterizing, or would like to schedule a winterizing service for your system.

    Best regards,

    Mike Isacson, CIC, CID, CIT, CLIA, CIS, CCCT (what do these letters mean? Click here to find out!)

    Owner, Island Waterwise Irrigation Inc.

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  • Seasonal Adjustments to your Irrigation System

    Ok, it’s time now for everyone to have their sprinklers on!  Earlier today I was starting up a system for a new customer, and I was struck by how dry the soil was in his lawn, after only about a week of truly spring like conditions.  But even though plants can now use some additional watering, at this time of year, they obviously don’t require as much as they will at the end of July.  But many systems operate by the rule of “Set it and forget it,” whereby once the controller is set in the spring, the program is never modified throughout the season.  Obviously, this is the easiest way to do things, but it’s equally obvious that this isn’t the best way to manage either our water or our landscapes.  So what to do?  There are several options:

          1)  Manually change the schedule in the controller periodically throughout the season- this is the most time-consuming, and possibly confusing, way to deal with the problem.  But if you (or perhaps your gardener or irrigation professional) are comfortable with doing things this way, it certainly can work.

          2) Seasonal Adjustment (or S. A.)- most modern irrigation controllers have a feature called “Seasonal Adjustment” (sometimes also “Water Budget,” or something similar).  This allows a simple universal adjustment of the irrigation schedule, based on a percentage.  As a general rule for most of the season in our region, systems should operate at 80% of the maximum “peak season” run times.  Historically, “peak season” actually only lasts for a few weeks at the end of July and into early August, when our “evapotranspiration” values are at their maximum.  So if the controller is programmed to water a particular area (or “zone” as we usually refer to them) for 10 minutes, it will water it for 10 minutes if the Seasonal Adjustment is set at 100%, but if you adjust the S. A. to 80%, the zone will only be watered for 8 minutes.  So 20 minutes, at 80%, becomes 16 minutes; at 70% it becomes 14 minutes, at 60% 12, etc.  How to change your Seasonal Adjustment: Many controllers have their “Seasonal Adjustment” or “Water Budget” setting on the dial.  To adjust, simply turn the dial to that setting, then use the “+(plus)” and/or “-(minus)“ buttons on the controller to change the setting.  Some Hunter Controllers have the Seasonal Adjustment controlled by 2 up and down arrows located to the left of the LCD display window- just use these buttons to move the Seasonal Adjustment percentage up or down.  Note: some controllers change the Seasonal Adjustment on a Program-by-Program basis.  So if Program A is your lawn, and Program B is your garden beds, you will need to change the S. A. for each separately.  Island Waterwise Irrigation offers a free Seasonal Adjustment e-mail service to our customers, notifying them periodically when we recommend they change their S. A. setting.

          3) Weather Sensors- there are also a number of sensors available on the market, that adjust controller settings based on current or historic weather conditions.  They range from fairly elaborate on-site weather stations, that can measure wind, rain, temperature, and solar radiation, and adjust program run times accordingly; subscription services, linked by computer, that send information to your controller from a regional weather station, or based on local weather records; and simpler devices, such as rain sensors, or one that I’m particularly fond of called the Hunter Solar Sync.  It measures rain, temperature, and solar radiation, and adjusts the controller’s Seasonal Adjustment settings based on the previous day’s weather.  It’s not as complicated as the weather stations, but still uses a good range of onsite data to manage system settings.

     

    If you have any questions about any of this, or irrigation in general, please feel free to contact me any time.

     

    Best regards,

    Mike Isacson, CIC, CID, CIT, CLIA, CIS, CCCT (what do these letters mean? Click here to find out!)

    Owner, Island Waterwise Irrigation Inc.

     

    Upcoming Events:

     

    CRD Irrigation Workshops: Click here to see a full list of CRD irrigation workshops for the spring and summer.  These courses are free, and are targeted at homeowners, with local irrigation professionals, including Island Waterwise owner Mike Isacson, providing a wealth of information.

     

                                                                                                                                                                                       

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  • When Should I Turn My Sprinklers On?

    When should I turn my sprinklers on?  That’s a question many irrigation system owners wonder this time of year.  I don’t need to tell you that we’ve had an unusually cool and damp spring.  The majority of landscapes haven’t required any supplemental watering at all so far this year.  The exceptions may include beds located under forest canopies, where soil can dry out rapidly early in the season, both due to the overhead coverage of the forest and the amount of soil moisture extracted by the large trees; and new plantings (including vegetable seedlings), where it never hurts to ensure root systems stay well-watered while they’re working to get established.  But most mature plantings and turf areas are getting all the water they need (and then some) from Mother Nature right now.  So while I do expect systems will need to be turned on in the first week or two of June, as I write this on May 29, most sprinkler systems can stay turned off for the time being. 

    If you have any questions about your system, or irrigation systems in general, please feel free to contact me any time.

    Best regards,

    Mike Isacson, CIC, CID, CIT, CLIA, CIS, CCCT (what do these letters mean? Click here to find out!)

    Owner, Island Waterwise Irrigation Inc.

     

    Upcoming Events:

    CRD Irrigation Workshops: Click here to see a full list of CRD irrigation workshops for the spring and summer.  These courses are free, and are targeted at homeowners, with local irrigation professionals providing a wealth of information.

     

    Full story

  • Great Service, No Contracts

    Greetings everyone,

    We’re now into spring start-up season, getting our customers’ irrigation systems fired up again, and ready for the dryer weather (whenever that shows up).  In addition to our high-efficiency installation services, Island Waterwise offers complete residential and commercial maintenance services year-round, without any sticky contracts to sign.  We’re confident that, once you see the level of service we offer, you’ll choose to stay with us for years to come, contract-free.  That’s how we’ve built and maintained a large clientele throughout our region, including the Gulf Islands, and why we’re the choice of several of the area’s leading property-management firms.

    So what exactly does a Waterwise spring start-up consist of?  The main aspects are: turning on the water; carefully inspecting the system for any leaks, damage, or worn-out components; making any necessary repairs (we keep our trucks well-stocked); and scheduling the system properly (and within CRD regulations), to meet the needs of your particular landscape.  We also offer a number of water-efficient upgrades to customers who are interested, including rain and weather sensors, updated controllers, the latest high-efficiency sprinkler models, and drip and micro-irrigation conversions.

    If you’re interested in any of the services we offer, please give us a call, we’d love to hear from you!

    Best regards,

    Mike Isacson, CIC, CID, CIT, CLIA, CIS, CCCT (what do these letters mean? Click here to find out!)

    Owner, Island Waterwise Irrigation Inc.

     

    UPCOMING EVENTS

    IIABC CIT Level 2 Course: The CRD is sponsoring an IIABC Certified Irrigation Technician Level 2 Course April 7-8 at the Cedar Hill Golf Course.  Click here for more information.

    CRD Irrigation Workshops: Click here to see a full list of CRD irrigation workshops for the spring and summer.  These courses are free, and are targeted at homeowners, with local irrigation professionals providing a wealth of information.

    ARCSA 100 and 200 Level Rainwater Harvesting Courses: The American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association is presenting 100 (Introductory) and 200 (Accreditation) Level Courses in Abbotsford March 28-30.  Click here for more information.

     

     

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  • Permit Me to Discuss... Plumbing Permits

    All 13 municipalities in the Capital Regional District require irrigation contractors to obtain a plumbing permit before installing an irrigation system.  The process is simple: the contractor goes into the municipal office, requests a permit, pays for the permit (costs range from a low of $30 in Langford up to $75 in Sooke), and arranges a date and time for a plumbing inspector to visit the site.  When the inspector arrives at the site, they will check to see that a backflow preventer has been properly installed and tested, and the connection to the water main has been done correctly.  Once that's all done, they sign off on the inspection, and everyone goes away happy.

    Sounds easy, right?  Well, it should be.  Unfortunately, the vast majority of irrigation contractors, including many of the largest local businesses, fail to see things this way.  Instead, they prefer in most cases to play a game of cat-and-mouse with inspectors and municipal employees, running for the backyard or playing dumb if anyone comes by to question whether they have a permit for their work.  In Oak Bay, some contractors got in the habit of taking out a permit in order to carry out an installation hassle-free, but then never "closed" the permit by arranging for an inspection.  Oak Bay ended up with so many permanently "open" permits that in 2010 they started charging a $200 deposit for all irrigation permits, with the $200 not being refunded until the inspector has signed off on the installation (and to my fellow contractors who caused this, I say thanks guys, I love loaning Oak Bay $200 every time we install a system there).

    Pretty silly, isn't it.  And unfortunately, it tarnishes the reputation of the irrigation industry in the eyes of the municipalities (and leads to plumbing inspectors sometimes referring to the trade as "irritation").  It can also make things awkward for homeowners, who may find themselves caught up in their contractor's turf war with the municipality.  Homeowners can easily avoid all this, however.  When you are choosing an irrigation contractor, one of the first questions you should be asking is "will you be taking out a plumbing permit for the system?"  And you should get it in writing; talk is cheap, and some contractors have been known to "exaggerate the truth" on occasion.  Getting a permit will cost you a few dollars more, but not only is it the proper way to do things, but it can save you a lot of headaches in the long run.

    Needless to say, Island Waterwise Irrigation ALWAYS takes out plumbing permits where required, and we take pride in the good relationships we have built in municipalities throughout the region.  It makes life a lot more enjoyable when you're sharing a laugh with somebody, rather than hiding from them in the backyard.

    Note: Municipalities may also require a permit to either add a backflow preventer to or expand an existing system, if the expansion is onto municipal property, such as a boulevard.

     

    Best regards,

    Mike Isacson, CIC, CID, CIT, CLIA, CIS, CCCT (what do these letters mean? Click here to find out!)

    Owner, Island Waterwise Irrigation Inc.

     

    UPCOMING EVENTS

    IIABC CIT Level 2 Course: The CRD is sponsoring an IIABC Certified Irrigation Technician Level 2 Course April 7-8 at the Cedar Hill Golf Course.  Click here for more information.

    CRD Irrigation Workshops: Click here to see a full list of CRD irrigation workshops for the spring and summer.  These courses are free, and are targeted at homeowners, with local irrigation professionals providing a wealth of information.

    ARCSA 100 and 200 Level Rainwater Harvesting Courses: The American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association is presenting 100 (Introductory) and 200 (Accreditation) Level Courses in Abbotsford March 28-30.  Click here for more information.

     

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  • Waterwise Blog: The Basics of Backflow

    In the Capital Regional District (and throughout much of North America), every new irrigation system supplied by municipal water is required to include a device called a "backflow preventer."  A lot of people wonder why they need to have one, and why it has to be tested regularly to ensure it's working properly (once every 3 years for single family homes, and once every year for commercial and multi-family dwellings).  The answer is: to protect our shared water supply.

    "Backflow" refers to the reversal of the normal flow of water in a system.  In nature, rivers don't get to flow back up, but in a piping system lots of things can occur that draw water back "upstream" to the source.  A couple of good examples would be a water main being accidentally damaged by a road crew, or a fire crew hooking up to a hydrant.  The immense amount of water flowing in these situations creates a draw, called "backsiphonage," which sucks water from any nearby piping back into the water main.  So any contaminants in the piping of any of the homes or buildings in the area can be drawn into the water main, to be shared with the rest of the neighbourhood once the main is repaired.  Irrigation systems present a higher hazard in this regard than household plumbing, mainly due to the assorted chemicals many people like to apply to their lawns.  These chemicals can easily enter into the sprinkler system through the sprinkler heads (which tend to draw a little water back into them every time the system shuts off).  Not to mention the stuff dogs and other animals "apply" to lawns.  None of which goes very well in your morning coffee. 

    Another type of backflow is "back pressure," where the pressure on the downstream side of things becomes greater than the pressure upstream, and the water reverses flow.  This can be caused by a downstream pump, or elevation differences, but is a less common threat than backsiphonage.  To learn more about backflow in general, click here.

    For most irrigation systems, the CRD requires a type of backflow preventer called a "Double Check Valve Assembly" (DCVA).  These are considered suitable for moderate hazard levels.  For any type of high hazard system where a chemical is being injected into the water, such as fertilizers at a nursery, or flame retardant in a fire sprinkler system, a Reduced Pressure Backflow Assembly (RPBA) is required.  All RPBAs are tested annually, or more frequently as needed.  Testing is done by a BCWWA-certified Cross Connection Control Tester.  A form is submitted to the CRD once the initial test is done, and then the CRD sends out new forms about a month before the next test is required.

    Backflow events happen all the time, and most go unreported.  Click here for a link to a CRD page listing backflow events both local and worldwide.  To read the CRD's Bylaw on Cross Connection Control, click here.

    Please contact us if you require any backflow testing services, or if you have any questions about backflow prevention in general.

    Best regards,

    Mike Isacson, CIC, CID, CIT, CLIA, CIS, CCCT (what do these letters mean? Click here to find out!)

    Owner, Island Waterwise Irrigation

     

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  • Season's Greetings

    Wishing you all the best this holiday season, from all of us here at Island Waterwise.

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