Companies Tout Water-saving Gadgetry for Builders at Las Vegas Trade Show

Kathy Hilty of Pardee Homes was skeptical about finding anything new in water-saving technology at a trade expo sponsored by the Southern Nevada Water Authority.

Oct. 4—Kathy Hilty of Pardee Homes was skeptical about finding anything new in water-saving technology at a trade expo sponsored by the Southern Nevada Water Authority.

She attended last year's show, which was dominated by irrigation products, and saw nothing of interest for Pardee.

Things would be different this time, promised Doug Bennett, conservation manager for the water authority. The expo at Cox Pavilion drew 50 manufacturers of everything from artificial turf to low-flush toilets to sprinkler timers that can be controlled from a Palm Pilot.

After coming across a "zero waste" reverse-osmosis water filtration system made by Phoenix-based Watts Premier, Hilty felt an apology was in order for Bennett.

"This is the one thing I was convinced he wouldn't find," Hilty said at the Water Smart Innovations trade show Sept. 24.

She told Bennett she would never play poker against him.

"I would never be able to doubt your bluffs," she said.

Watts Premier is a leading manufacturer of reverse-osmosis systems. Pardee already uses the company's recirculation pumps.

"When you put water through reverse osmosis, 25 percent becomes this pure drinking water that people want and 75 percent goes down the sewer," Bennett said.

"We love this," Hilty said. "We didn't realize how much was not reused or recycled."

The $300 "zero-waste" system returns unused water into the hot water loop.

"This is the only RO unit out there that's 100 percent efficient," said Shannon Murphy, vice president of Watts Premier. "There is no water that gets wasted down the drain. Zero."

The expo introduces builders, contractors and property managers to the latest water-saving innovations and creates a forum for an exchange of ideas, Bennett said.

"Technology is an important component to improving water efficiency," he said. "We just need to get people to realize there's better ways to do almost anything we do with water. Conservation means giving something up. All we're asking them to give up is their waste."

Tony Delta of Solano Beach, Calif.-based Water2Save said his company's wireless irrigation control system can save businesses anywhere from $1,500 a year for a small office property to $18,000 for larger-size landscaped properties such as apartments and homeowner associations.

The company bolts a two-way communication device onto the existing irrigation clock that keeps track of weather conditions and "evapotranspiration," the amount of water loss from evaporation and transpiration by plants, to determine when and how much to water. Cost is about $100 a month and there's no equipment to buy.

"It's guaranteed savings," Delta said. "Usually, we don't go in unless we can save you $6,000."

Rain Master showed its Internet-based central control system, iCentral, that provides water management at the click of a mouse.

"We've taken central control to new levels," said John Torosian, a representative for the Simi Valley, Calif.-based company. "Cellular and paging technology is all around us. Anywhere you have Internet access, you have access to your irrigation system for scheduling adjustments and any abnormality such as a broken line or broken (sprinkler) head."

Torosian said it costs about $1,500 for a commercial project to go online with the system for five years and businesses can expect typical savings of 20 percent to 35 percent in water usage.

Josh Murray of Kohler Co. demonstrated a dual-flush toilet that can either flush 0.8 gallons or 1.6 gallons at the touch of a button.

"People are surprised at how easy it is to change out toilets," he said.

The water authority adopted a drought plan last year encouraging businesses and residents to participate in conservation measures and explore new water-efficient technologies.

"From a business perspective, we want to sustain business vitality and at the same time sustain the quality of life in Las Vegas and we think technology is going to be the key to do that," Bennett said.

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