Another impressive slate of irrigation professionals submitted landmark projects this year for ASIC's 2011 Annual Excellence in Irrigation Awards, presented at the ASIC-IA joint water conference in Denver, CO.

Excellence in Irrigation Award winners named

Another impressive slate of irrigation professionals submitted landmark projects this year for ASIC’s 2011 Annual Excellence in Irrigation Awards, presented at the ASIC-IA joint water conference in Denver, CO.

ASIC’s annual National Excellence in Irrigation Awards recognize the sound science and judgment required of an independent irrigation consultant. Each year, Honor and Merit Awards, independently judged by an academic team at Cal Poly Pomona, are given based on the quality of project planning and design in functionalism, environmental responsibility and relevance. This year’s recipients include:


Ken Merboth, Water Scape Inc., Lincoln, NE

Commercial & Public Works Category

Mammel Hall, University of Nebraska, Omaha, NE

Project Highlight

Merboth was able to reduce irrigation demand by 52 percent through its design, construction supervision, and management training for the 11-acre project. An on-site ET sensor that measures evaporation and plant transpiration according to heat, humidity, wind and precipitation levels at the site was integrated with the irrigation control system to automatically formulate irrigation schedules based on quantified plant needs and soil characteristics.
Irrigation flow sensors were added to detect irregular system performance and automatically shutdown affected areas, while alerting the management team of a break or stuck valve. Additional pressure-regulation technology was used to ensure even water distribution from each sprinkler head and drip emitter throughout the site.

“Mammel Hall showcases what can be accomplished with forward-thinking clients,” Merboth explains. “University officials understood the payoff for an upfront investment that will result in significant savings of water, labor, landscape pesticides and fertilizers, and plant replacement over the years.”


Cullen Kinoshita, Aqua Engineering, Inc., Fort Collins, CO

Commercial & Public Works Category

Water Conservation Analysis for Denver Water, Denver, CO

Project Highlight

Kinoshita was tasked with evaluating irrigation systems at 219 school facilities in three districts over a four-month period to identify outdoor water conservation opportunities. Adding to the challenge was a “Use Only What You Need” campaign launched by Denver Water prior to the commencement of this project. Given the inefficiencies within some of the school district’s systems, the project became an important statement to the community about Denver Water’s commitment to its campaign message.

A database was developed to organize, sort and evaluate field data collected from each site. The database, together with evaluation and recommendations for improvements, was collected into a comprehensive report for use by the client to support funding requests. Study results include:

·         Total irrigated areas assessed: 946 acres

·         Total potential water savings: 63.7 million gallons

·         Historic annual water use: nearly 659 million gallons

·         Potential annual water cost savings: $180,800

·         Average simple payback: 6.5 years

“Completing each assessment task at 219 facilities in four months required extensive coordination,” Kinoshita imparts. “Meetings were held with district staff prior to site visits to establish expectations; travel routes were developed to minimize travel time; and site teams performed specific roles to operate and record field data.”


J.D. Leonard, Aqua Engineering, Inc., Fort Collins, CO

Commercial & Public Works Category

Denver Botanic Gardens Irrigation System Renovation; Denver, Colorado

Project Highlight

In response to aging irrigation infrastructure, inefficient water application, and high-cost of maintenance, Leonard developed an irrigation system master plan including material evaluation and selection. High-density polyethylene pipe was specified to replace the existing asbestos-cement mainline and prevent damage to existing trees and plants. A specialized valve manifold was developed for each garden to provide flexible watering schedules and enhance maintenance efficiency. And, a decoder-style centralized control system was installed to automate all the zones within the irrigation system, including the 175 zones that were previously watered manually by gardeners.

Finally, the irrigation design provided a dual-use system with a parallel mainline designed for future conversion to recycled water throughout the project site. A weather station was added to provide evapotranspiration data directly to the existing central controller, and is incorporated into the gardens for use as an educational tool.

“Denver Botanic Gardens represents a historical site and community landmark within the City and County of Denver and is one of area’s most visible water users,” Leonard asserts. “We carefully considered how to minimize site impact during installation while providing maintenance crews with the tools they need to manage the site at a high level of control and efficiency. Ultimately, the renovation highlights the Gardens’ commitment to efficient water use and conservation, and serves as a living model for the community.  

“Each recipient showed tremendous skill and versatility in master planning or analyzing the needs of large, demanding irrigation projects with challenging site conditions to the satisfaction of multiple constituents,” offers Jeff Bruce, ASIC president. “Creating logical water solutions to such large, complex projects clearly demonstrate the skill and innovation of this year’s award winners.”

The goal of ASIC’s Annual Excellence in Irrigation Awards is to recognize outstanding independent irrigation consultants while promoting the value of project design that incorporates the needs and resources of clients with the most progressive science and engineering available.

The American Society of Irrigation Consultants (ASIC) was formed in 1970. Its members are committed to representing the client in providing independent irrigation consulting services for the effective use and management of water and other natural resources. For more information about ASIC or its members, call 508/763-8140 or visit