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GPI ultrasonic flowmeters help save water costs at University of Tennessee

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Great Plains Industries (GPI) has revealed that its FLOMEC® QS200 Insertion Ultrasonic Flowmeter helped save the University of Tennessee significant water and landscape maintenance costs.

The QS200 is designed to support commercial irrigation applications and measures flow rates five times lower than current flow sensors on the market, as low as 0.22 gallons per minute. Additionally, it provides extended leak detection down to 0.1 feet per second.

"Entities that rely on commercial irrigation – whether it's a business, municipality or, in this case, an educational institution – are under more pressure than ever to control their water usage and costs," said Mark Bieberle, meter product manager at GPI.

"System leaks that once were considered small are no longer acceptable. The problem is that traditional mechanical impeller meters often can't read the low flows required in many irrigation applications. This limits their ability to find those small leaks that add up to big water losses over time. We engineered the ultrasonic FLOMEC® QS200 precisely to solve that problem."

The University of Tennessee is one of the largest turf research schools in the US. Its Landscape Services department is responsible for the landscape maintenance and upkeep of 780 acres of space on the university’s main and agricultural campuses, as well as an addition 200 acres at its Cherokee Farms site.

The university uses both drip irrigation and standard spray lines; however, seeping valves were creating mud holes throughout the campus, causing damage to landscaping and a potential hazard for students and faculty. The leaks were also causing water to run over pavements and into parking lots.

The 1-inch impeller flowmeters on the drip irrigation lines, however, were showing no readings, which made it challenging to pinpoint the leaking valves. It was also suspected that flow readings on the standard spray lines were being missed, and the university had to replace units as they seized up.

Mechanical impeller meters must see a minimum flow rate such that the impeller will overcome friction and start moving to sense any flow. They are often unable to read the low flows typical of many commercial irrigation applications, which limits their ability to find leaking valves or other irrigation system leaks.

As the FLOMEC® QS200 has no moving parts, there is no mechanical friction, which allows it to measure much lower flows than mechanical impeller meters.

GPI’s solution has helped the University of Tennessee prevent problems with seepage and runoff, resulting in lower costs in repairing these areas. The new flowmeters notify the university if too much water is flowing.

The university now uses the QS200 on 50% of its drip irrigation lines and 50% of its standard spray lines, with plans to retrofit more in the future.