March 22 2011 12:00 AM
Patrick Crais is the owner of Blue Watch Dog Systems, a San Diego-based water conservation company. Blue Watch Dog works in conjunction with landscape companies, and commercial property owners, to manage water use for residential and commercial sites. “We help solve their customers’ water use problems,” said Crais. “Our focus is to control water use and keep the plants happy and healthy. Over the past two years, we’ve averaged approximately a 40% water savings across our client base.”

In an effort to reduce costs for their clients, Crais has been searching for ways to conduct remote management for sites that already have weather-based controllers. Recently, Blue Watch Dog received a call from one of its landscape contractors who needed to make changes to the scheduling program at one particular site. Crais visited the site and found that the controller had been retrofitted with a Hunter Pro C Controller and a Solar Sync, making it a weather-based controller.

However, there was a problem.

If changes need to be made to the scheduling, or if there is an equipment malfunction, the water manager has to leave his office, go to the site and make the changes there. “This can be quite costly,” Crais explains. “When I have to send someone out to the site, I bill the client $105 for the first hour, including travel time. If he’s there longer than an hour, the rate drops to $85 for the second hour.”

If you’re using a web-based controller, you can program it remotely, but there are many locations that don’t have web-based controllers. A new product has been introduced that eliminates the need to retrofit to a remotebased controller.

“Last year, I was introduced to the Hermit Crab,” said Crais. “As I looked at all of its features, I knew this would be the perfect tool for my company.”

The Hermit Crab by ET Water has a unique position in our market. You can convert any existing controller to a water smart controller. By attaching three wires from the Hermit Crab to a conventional controller via its remote control access port, the Hermit will signal the controller to open and close the sprinkler valves. What made it so important to Crais is that it is web-based.

“Now, if there’s a problem on a particular site, instead of driving to the site and making the corrections, I can make those same changes from my computer,” said Crais. “I don’t have to bill my client for travel time; just one touch on the iPad screen and it’s done.”

“I was in Italy recently and was managing my clients’ sites from my iPad. That’s the newest technology at its best. It saves time and keeps my bills to my clients to a minimum. I can now offer water management services at affordable prices. The iPad functions now as my remote control as well when onsite, or I can even use my iPhone.”