Oct. 27 2018 06:00 AM

Thanks to Marwan Madi, University of Texas is able to reduce water used for landscape irrigation.

Marwan Madi, a junior at the University of Texas at Austin, is helping the campus reduce its water use by millions of gallons every year, according to an article on KXAN.com. Madi is working with UT’s irrigation and water conservation program coordinator, Markus Hogue, who had been looking for a way to use technology to reduce water usage while still keep campus green and inviting.

Over the past year and a half, Hogue and Madi have been gathering data about the landscape around the LBJ Presidential Library, which Hogue said uses 20 percent of the water the university uses to irrigate the entire campus.

They use a drone fitted with a special camera that measures the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index or NDVI. These measurements indicate how much chlorophyll plants are producing, which shows how healthy the plants are. The NDVI camera can discover unhealthy areas in landscapes before they become physically evident.

The information from the drone is combined with 12 moisture sensors in the ground, revealing how much water is being lost back into the air instead of being absorbed into the ground where it can be used. The images produced help the pair know which areas need more water.

Now they're ready to move into the next phase where Hogue will start reducing automatic irrigation in specific areas around LBJ. After another year, they plan to have enough data to draw conclusions about how much water they can save and still keep the grounds green.

Madi’s goal is for 10 percent water savings, representing millions of gallons of water a year, and that’s just for the LBJ land. If they prove successful in reducing water use, it could serve as a model not only for the rest of their campus, but for any institution or company that wants to reduce water consumption.