Rain Bird announced the finalists for its 2009 Intelligent Use of Water Leadership Award, recognizing individuals and organizations for their leadership roles in the management of Earth's most precious natural resource.

Rain Bird Intelligent Use of Water finalists named

Rain Bird announced the finalists for its 2009 Intelligent Use of Water Leadership Award, recognizing individuals and organizations for their leadership roles in the management of Earth’s most precious natural resource. Each finalist was selected by an independent panel of judges based on a set of pre-determined criteria that includes demonstrated water savings, landscape preservation, innovation and overall impact on the community.

One finalist will be named winner of the third annual award at the WaterSmart Innovations Conference and Exposition in Las Vegas, Nevada, October 8, 2009, where they will be awarded $10,000 and featured in a short film highlighting their contributions to outdoor water conservation.

Finalists for the 2009 Intelligent Use of Water Leadership Award are:

Council on the Environment of New York City (CENYC) – New York, NY A drought in the summer of 2001 provided an opportunity for Council on the Environment of New York City (CENYC) to challenge public perception about urban water conservation. CENYC spearheaded the creation of the Water Resources Group, a coalition of environmental organizations dedicated to finding ways to conserve and reuse water. One of those solutions developed into encouraging and helping build urban rainwater harvesting (RWH) systems, which divert water from adjacent roofs or garden structures into tanks as large as 1,000 gallons. Stored water from RWH systems is then used for community gardens and landscapes. CENYC has steadily built or helped build over 40 systems throughout the City’s five boroughs, collecting as much as 500,000 gallons of water annually. In 2008, CENYC signed a contract with the Department of Parks and Recreation to build 20 new RWH systems in New York City community gardens.  To date, three of the five systems built for the department have been integrated into major food growing operations for a local soup kitchen, livestock feed and a local farmer’s market.

Hui o Ko’olaupoko – Kailua, HI

Considered paradise by island visitors and residents alike, Hui o Ko’olaupoko works to preserve the natural beauty and organic watershed processes in Hawaii’s Ko`olaupoko region of Windward Oahu. Recognizing the need to change attitudes towards environmental stewardship and subsequent behavior at the community level, the organization developed Kaha Garden in

2007 as a living example of how homeowners can use native and indigenous landscaping to improve water quality. The project replaced grass and invasive species along 150 yards of stream bank with native Hawaiian plants that are used to stabilize soil, reduce runoff and facilitate natural filtration of water.  Hui o Ko’olaupoko has also instituted extensive local programs to educate visitors and students on the benefits of native landscaping and best water management practices. The effort has resulted in heavy grassroots community involvement, noted by nearly 1,000 volunteer hours at the garden this year.

Naples Botanical Garden, Inc. – Naples, FL

 In an area with a problematic history of pollution and fertilizer runoff in communal waterways, Naples Botanical Garden is committed to high performance and the integration of sustainable green building practices into the design of their gardens. Having adopted the water use goals for LEED Gold Certification, the garden is a leader in freshwater conservation and management and incorporates numerous water conserving features into its design.  Parking lot bio-swales capture rainwater that filters through the ground, carrying water to the giant entry feature bio-swale, the Rain Garden. A “River of Grass” garden feature serves as a natural filtration system before the water is slowly released to the preserve area. The primary irrigation system for the garden implements soil moisture detectors that direct water as needed through drip emitters. The system has allowed the garden to reduce water use by 50 percent.

Quail Botanical Gardens – Encinitas, CA

Located on the scenic Southern Californian coast, Quail Botanical Gardens is committed to being a leader in water conservation for the drought-prone region. The garden offers numerous classes and workshops that encourage smart water usage in residential landscaping, such as “South African Plants for a California Garden” and “Designing with Succulents.” For the past five years, Julian Duval, CEO of the gardens, has promoted low-water-use plants through a gardening segment on San Diego’s KUSI-TV. Public outreach has also extended via a partnership with the San Diego County Water Authority to create two educational videos focusing on water conservation activities and landscaping. The garden demonstrates these incorporated methodologies in their own backyard by using xeriscaping and indigenous plants, recycled water, weather-based controllers and low-water irrigation tools. Today, 70 percent of the garden’s plantings require little or no water.

Queens Botanical Garden – Flushing, NY

A systemic interconnectedness between landscape, buildings and systems makes Queens Botanical Garden a “living museum” for visitors and employees.

The first newly constructed building in New York State to earn a platinum LEED certification, the garden’s visitor and administration building features a green roof and a rainwater harvesting system. The garden’s paved vehicle surfaces are made of gravel to slow and filter rainwater, and the paved walkways and paths slope to a biotope where water is cooled and cleansed in a cistern for future use. A large rain garden handles overflow water from the biotope, and native plants support the necessary water functions of the various garden spaces in a naturalistic, ornamental planting approach. All of Queens Botanical Gardens water conservation efforts work in harmony to ease New York City’s overburdened sewer and wastewater systems, thus reducing pollution in Long Island Sound.

Judging this year’s nominations are an independent panel of landscape and water-efficiency experts, each with a unique understanding of the relationship between better landscape designs and reduced landscape water waste. The 2009 judges are Dan Stark, Executive Director of the American Public Gardens Association; Marty Eberhardt, Executive Director of The Water Conservation Garden in El Cajon, California and winner of the 2007 Intelligent Use of Water Award; Denis Gourdeau, Water Management Lead, City of Calgary Parks, Alberta, Canada; and Christopher S. Gray, Sr., Golf Course Superintendent at Marvel Golf Club in Benton, Kentucky and winner of the 2008 Intelligent Use of Water Award.