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Irrigation: Florida to the Bahamas

President of Research Irrigation, Inc.

The irrigation plans for the San Messina Recreation Center in Weston, Florida show the layout of water lines and sprinkler heads. The irrigation system is designed to deliver a minimum of 1 1/2 inches of water per week using a three day/week irrigation schedule. Inset pictures show the finished results of the Savanna Recreation Center.

Research Irrigation, Inc. was incorporated in Florida on October 17, 1979. In that time frame we have worked in areas ranging from the Florida Keys to Jacksonville. Our crews have installed every type of system conceivable.

Of the many projects that Research Irrigation, Inc. has been a part of, two memorable jobs include Weston, located in Broward County, Florida, and Atlantis, in the Bahamas.

WESTON

Contractor: Research Irrigation, Inc.

Developer: Arvida Corp.

Irrigation Designer: Miller, Legg and Associates

Project Overview

The Weston project began 20 years ago. The site now encompasses about 10,000 acres and is home to more than 50,000 residents and 500 businesses. Pictured above is the Weston Town Center.

Weston, one of the largest, upscale, master planned residential and commercial developments in the southeastern United States, encompasses about 10,000 acres and is home to more than 50,000 residents and 500 businesses. The planners magnificently blended single and multi family units, along with numerous Commercial Centers, while maintaining a very strict landscape and irrigation standard.

We had the privilege of being a part of this project from the beginning, which was 20 years ago. Soon we will have laid our last piece of pipe and installed our last zone of sprinkler heads. The totals are pretty remarkable. 112 miles of main line, 2,950 automatic valves, 250,000 sprinkler heads, 100 controllers, 10 pump stations, and millions of feet of control wire. I never imagined that the development would be so large. In fact, Weston is now a city, one of the largest in Broward County, Florida.

Irrigation System

Irrigation system design requirements for the San Messina Multi-Family homes called for a 120 gallons per minute minimum and 60 psi at the pump station. Supply lines greater than three inches in diameter received concrete thrust blocks.

The irrigation system is so immense that it is controlled by a Rainbird Maxi Com System with two weather stations. On many occasions it will rain on one side of the project and not the other, hence the need for the multiple weather stations.

The developer, Arvida Corp., was lead by some brilliant minds. Guiding the team was Mr. Roy Rogers, Senior Vice-President, who had a great interest in irrigation. We tried every new product, from every manufacturer, trying to improve on our installation and, at the same time, challenged the manufacturers to improve on their products. We were one of the first to install Maxi Com, in the early 1980's, and one of the first to use variable frequency drive on the pump stations. I guess you can say we were a testing ground for many of the new ideas and products that we see today.

The Weston community includes an athletic park equipped with eight soccer fields, eight baseball/softball fields, eight basketball courts, eight hockey rinks and two volleyball courts

When you have the support of a developer like Arvida and a designer like Miller, Legg and Associates, it makes the installation that much easier and our installers take a lot of pride in their work. This is not to say that we didnít have some challenges along the way. I can remember a berm, next to an environmentally sensitive area, that we were trying to irrigate. The county would not permit us to install permanent irrigation. We devised a movable, demountable drip irrigation system. As the plant material (which was native and xeriscape) was established, we would move the drip system farther down the berm. We irrigated almost 3 miles using this system and it was a great success.

Another challenging area of Weston was the Tequesta Indian Burial Grounds. The State was opposed to using a trencher to lay pipe in these areas. Consequently, we spent many hours hand digging through the rock, very carefully, and under the watchful eye of the local archaeologist.

Research Irrigation, Inc. has been on the project since the beginning. In that time frame, they have installed 112 miles of main line, 2,950 automatic valves, 250,000 sprinkler heads, 100 controllers, 10 pump stations and millions of feet of control wire.

The windmills offered an interesting installation and were probably the most fun to work with. We installed numerous windmills around Weston; several at the local elementary schools. They are a terrific educational tool! We would install a working windmill (emphasizing wind power) and dump the water in a cistern and distribute the water to an herb garden by means of a drip irrigation system. Absolutely no electricity needed, all natural. We even used a solar powered pump at one cistern to distribute the water farther. It was a very rewarding project.

Weston was truly a wonderful and challenging project. I am very proud of what we accomplished and very thankful to have worked with such wonderful people.

ATLANTIS

Located at Paradise Island in the Bahamas, Atlantis occupies about 65 acres and is home to the largest marine habitat in the world with an 11 million gallon salt-water aquarium. The aquarium houses over 50,000 marine animals, representing more than 200 different species.

CONTRACTOR: Research Irrigation, Inc.

DEVELOPER: Sun International

IRRIGATION DESIGNER: Edward D. Stone &

Associates / Ken DiDonato

Project Overview

Imagine the most creative work by the Disney Company and put it in the most beautiful spot in the world. This is what Sol Kerzner of Sun International accomplished at Paradise Island in the Bahamas.

Atlantis has 11 exhibit lagoons totalling 11,000 million gallons of water, 11 swimming pools which include formal pools, free-form pools, kid's pools and the Lazy River Ride for tubing.

Atlantis is located on about 65 acres. With an 11 million gallon salt-water aquarium, it boasts the largest marine habitat in the world. They house over 50,000 marine animals, representing more than 200 different species.

The irrigation system, which took over a year to complete, was extensive and challenging. The trucks, machinery, tools, and materials all had to be brought in via air or sea. In addition, work permits and Visas had to be issued by the Bahamian government for employees and Bahamas Central Bank approval for the company. Quite a lengthy process!The paperwork, however, was the easy part!

Irrigation Installation

The irrigation system itself was very intricate. This was a water theme resort, with over 34 acres of interlocking rivers and waterfalls, along with multiple levels of planters. The number of sleeves alone totaled more than 2,000. Since water is so expensive and limited, a combination of drip and spray zones were utilized.

There were two water sources used for the site; RO water immediately around the building, walkways and pool decks and re-use water in the outlying areas, away from the public. The RO system was actually a combination of rainwater, supplemented with RO water. A large pump station was installed under the hotel, next to a 350,000 gallon cistern. It was then pumped up to the site level and distributed around the site. A booster pump station was installed at the P.O.C. for the re-use system to maintain a constant down stream pressure throughout the system.

The irrigation system for Atlantis includes two pump stations, roughly 10 thousand sprinkler heads, 10 miles of drip tubing, over 100 automatic valves, eight controllers, many miles of pipe and control wire, as well as a working crew of 2,500 people.

The irrigation designer, Ken DiDonato, chose a combination of products that would best fit the site. There were so many elevation differences that only a sprinkler head with a pressure regulated stem and a check valve would work. In fact, at the Mayan Temple, which is seven stories high, we had to install pipe in planters almost to the very top! We had to pay close attention to the hydraulics on this job.

Since the water, RO and re-use, was not of the best quality, contamination proof valves had to be used. The pump stations and controller cabinets had to be stainless steel.

The system was quite extensive. Two pump stations, approximately ten thousand sprinkler heads, ten miles of drip tubing, over one hundred automatic valves, eight controllers and many miles of pipe and control wire. During construction, the site had as many as tweny five hundred people working 7 days a week. We were literally bumping into each other! The construction schedule seemed most unrealistic, but a December deadline had to be met in order to coincide with the tourist season. What compounded the difficulty of completion was the nightmare of over 10,000 changes by the owner. We did, however, finish on time with the owner’s approval.

Being a water-themed resort, Atlantis has over 34 acres of interlocking rivers and waterfalls, along with multiple planters. More than 2,000 sleeves were used on the project that used a combination of drip and spray zones.

This was certainly our most challenging project to date and we are a better company today because of it. Now the challenge is to seek out additional opportunities like the Atlantis project.


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June 16, 2019, 10:25 pm PDT

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