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Pedro Orso-Delgado, the CalTrans district director, said today that his agency would spend $50,000 to upgrade some of its roadside sprinkler systems to aid water conservation efforts.

The money will be spent to install smart irrigation controllers, which can detect weather conditions and irrigate accordingly — instead of being on pre-set timers. About 45 percent of CalTrans’ 550 irrigation controllers are smart controllers and are connected to a central system that allows them to be turned on or off by computer.

CalTrans, which used 1.1 billion gallons of water countywide last year, is one of the region’s largest water users, consuming as much last year as 6,750 families of four. CalTrans, like other residents and businesses locally, will have to comply with the mandatory water conservation requirements implemented by cities throughout the region.

The agency said it plans to require its contractors to repair irrigation breaks faster. CalTrans said it is also moving toward requiring contractors to hire certified water managers to ensure water is used properly when new landscaping is planted in road projects.

Orso-Delgado encouraged anyone who sees water being wasted by CalTrans to call the district headquarters: 619.688.6699.

ROB DAVIS

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