Damon Cooper's BLOG
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May 27, 2007
Water Smart: Save The Planet

I was so impressed with AccuWater’s smart irrigation technology as an early customer, I'm now also an investor. And I couldn’t be prouder.

AccuWater’s technology has cut my water bill by about 56%, or a little over half, since I had it installed about two years ago, and it’s now not only paid for itself, since I’ve got a little over an acre to keep green, but my lawn is the deepest, greenest in my neighborhood, with no action on my part except weekly mowing and the usual Scotts Turf Builder applications, 4 times a year.

The AccuWater website has some great info on how their technology works, but the bottom line is that each Zone is watered only when needed to augment lack of required rainfall. The weather forecast, along with dozens and dozens of other factors are taken into consideration, and the exact amount of water needed by each lawn irrigation zone is precisely calculated and downloaded to your AccuWater controller from the AccuWater DataCenter over the Internet daily.

This chart tells the basic story:

At the Clean Energy Venture Summit in Austin on 14-16 May 2007, over 400 registered attendees from venture capital firms, utilities, and other organizations interested in various new clean technologies were in attendance. There was also substantial representation for green building advocates and technologies, and AccuWater was invited to present its story as one of 20 early stage companies presenting to the conference.

CNET News was there and blogged this short report: http://news.com.com/8301-10784_3-9719407-7.html?tag=blog.1

One major detail that the CNET News blog confused, however was that average irrigation in Austin is 1.8 Million gallons PER ACRE per year, not for 20 acres per year.

That works out to 36 Million gallons per year for a 20-acre property. Keeping the landscape in lush, green condition, AccuWater can reduce this amount to about 17.8 Million gallons per year, or about 49% of what it takes with conventional controllers.

Water conservation aside, as the CNET article points out, if you consider that water rates have gone up about 27% between 2001 and 2006, the dollar savings from water conservation can be significant with this kind of conservation.

The final point that the article and AccuWater make is significant: it takes about 2.5 watt-hours to produce and distribute a gallon of water. So using the above 20-acre commercial property example, that's 45,500,000 watt-hours, or 45,500 kilowatt hours, of electricity that is saved in one year. Given that the average annual electric consumption per U.S. household in 2001 was 10,656 kilowatt hours according to the U.S. Energy Information Association, that's enough energy to power 4.26 average U.S. homes for an entire year.

And that's the savings from just ONE commercial property. Widespread conservation of this magnitude can make a very, very real difference.

At the end of the conference, the expert judging panel gave the award for “Best Investment Opportunity” to AccuWater.

I, for one, couldn't agree more.

If you know anyone with a large commercial property (or maybe your very own home onwer's association or gated community's property manager) that could use AccuWater’s technology, I think you'd be doing not only them but the environment a huge favor if you let them know that this technology exists.



what about agriculture, especially water intensive crops like rice or heaven forbid eucalyptus for paper production? you guys got technology for the humble farmer?

The initial focus is on commercial and residential class-A type properties to get things rolling. However, you're correct that there are definitely other areas that can definitely use this technology. Many of these other major irrigators tend to use a different types of valves that would need specialized irrigation valve controllers, though, and many already use some form of at least basic evapo-transpiration (ET) calculations to try to reduce water waste.

First things first. :)


well i was thinking about places like thailand w/out entrenched technology (mobile phones took off like a bat out of hell here) or really any kind of water-saving technology. the only places i see here w/some kind technology are the half-dozen wineries (yes we produce wine) in the lower NE (the NE, esan, is by & large pretty dry) & maybe a few more modern golf courses (bonkers about golf here). nobody's usually interested in places like central thailand w/hundred of years worth of irrigation infrastructure where agriculture water is basically free. if this stuff was cheap enough it could go a long way towards helping the poor esan farmers get by a bit better. i expect it costs an arm & a leg? talked to USAID, etc.?

Yeah, Paul, like I said, I think AccuWater is focusing on their immediate target market right now before entering other markets.

The other thing to keep in mind is that if, in a region, irrigation water is basically free, the ROI for these users is pretty high (better crops, maybe), and irrigators such as vineyards likely already have sophisticated irrigation monitoring and controls in place.

Damon Damon

I wrote about AccuWater on my blog (http://austinstartup.typepad.com/austin_startup/2007/05/austin_clean_en.html) a few weeks ago right after the summit.

I guess the fact that you went from customer to investor is a huge vote of confidence. Now if you guys can just package it all in an easy-to-sell Home Depot style blister pack, you could go mass market. I'm sure it's not as easy as that, but I would like to see the ROI work out for .2 acre residential applications as well as the 2-20 acre areas.