Over 9000 Gallons Used in 13 days

I’m feeling highly concerned and a little frustrated because I’ve invested quite a bit of time researching, adjusting the Rachio advanced settings and investigating system leaks only to find I’m using more water now (200% more) than I did when now, my lawn is half the size from the previous year. How is this possible?

I have 7 zones (5 turf zones with rotar nozzles and two drip zones using emitters). All zones are on the flex daily schedule… What am I doing incorrectly? I bought this controller to save money and to reduce my water usage - please help.

Fixed daily is not a good schedule to achieve water conservation, it is not much better than your old dumb controller, with only benefit being weather skip in case there is a lot of rain coming in (in other words, there are no savings when it’s not raining).

For highest savings, flex daily schedule is the best choice.

That being said, how is the usage data acquired? Do you have a flow meter installed, or is the system estimating your usage based on the area? If it is the latter, have you double checked the area for all of your zones?


Hi @Gene sorry, I meant to say all zones are using the flex daily schedules. I have all turf on the same schedule, my shrub/trees/perennials on one drip schedule and my xeric plants on the other drip schedule.

I have considered installing a flow meter but I haven’t taken that action yet. Is there a brand you recommend? I’m getting my usage data from the Rachio app as well as my utilities’ water conservation program app. Both sources are in alignment. The drip line for my trees are putting out 400+ gallons every 5-8 days (I have 22 trees @ 4GPH emitters, 19 shrubs @ 2GPH emitters and 23 perennials @ .5GPH emitters). By my calculation I should use and only want to use 137.5 gallons for that zone each run.

The turf sq footage seems accurate, if anything I think there might be more lawn than is accounted for. I will measure properly this weekend.

By that do you mean you are using 3 times the water on a yard only twice as big? Or 50% more than expected?

I don’t know your yard, but 9,000 gallons in 13 days doesn’t sound that bad. 9000 gallons per 13 days is 4,846 gallons per week, which would cover 7,774 sq ft with 1” of water (absolute minimum this time of year) or 5,183 sq ft at 1.5”, which is about what I’m watering at.

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Wouldn’t you expect to use more water if your current lawn is 2x the size of your previous lawn? Or do I misunderstand?

How did you arrive at .7 for the nozzle inches per hour in the settings you posted? And can you post the zone settings for the zones with the drip irrigation? I ask because you say you are using 400+ gallons and should only be using 137.5 gallons for the drip zones. I assume that the gph you noted for the emitters is their rated amount from the manufacturers specs. The gallons used by your drip zones is calculated based on the area and the nozzle inches of water, not the rated specs of the manufacturer. I don’t think you can just assume that you should only be using 137.5 gallons for your 2 drip zones every time your schedule runs. And what is the duration that each of the drip zones runs for in your schedule?

I edited my original message and sorry for the confusion. I was so tired when I typed my note that I didn’t read it carefully to make sure it made sense.

Today, my lawn is half the size from the previous year but I use more water now on a smaller sized lawn. I’ve had my Rachio 3 since June 29, 2020 and was hoping to see less water usage especially since converting irrigation zones to drip and using one less zone than I did last year.

I ran both drip zones earlier and discovered a leak in one zone so, that’s one problem found.

That was my typo. My lawn is actually half the original size today. I guess I was hoping to average 344 gallons per day (GPD) with this new controller as I’m really trying to do my part in conserving water but it appears I cannot achieve that goal without adjusting the advanced settings.

I let the Rachio app calculate the nozzle inches per hour and this is what the drip zone running 400+ gallons settings look like.

This may be the issue. Rachio can’t know what your nozzle inches per hour is so just makes an “educated” guess". You really need to confirm the nozzle inches per hour rate. You can set the Nozzle Inches Per hour in three different ways - your choice.

  1. Pick a number - 0.5 for example. If after a bit of time that’s not enough water then lower the number. Or if it is too much water than raise the number.
  2. Use your water meter to calculate (as described above) the amount of water applied to each zone. Again, if after a bit of time that’s not enough water then lower the number. Or if it is too much water than raise the number.
  3. Use a catch cup test to determine the amount of water applied to each zone. With drip I think you need to catch the water in a different way than the traditional catch cup. Again, if after a bit of time that’s not enough water then lower the number. Or if it is too much water then lower the number.

@PonLawn Sorry - I forgot to add that it looks like you accepted the default amount for area also. If that’s the case then the calculation for gallons used will not be close to reality. In addition to confirming the nozzle inches of water you need to confirm the square footage of your zones. I don’t have drip zones so don’t have any experience with them, but I think the area for drip zones is calculated differently than for lawns. Just do a google search for “rachio drip area”

.51" per hour for a Drip zone sounds high to me. I don’t believe you can use Rachio’s default settings for Drip irrigation. There are spreadsheets out there to help calculate drip system use, but they’re not easy to use IMHO.

Personally, for a Drip Zone, I would calculate how many gallons of water you want to apply to it (by various methods such as knowing the number of 1 gph emitters, or in your case, previous experience), then do a short test of ACTUAL water usage on the zone over a given time. From that you can calculate how long to water. If your case, you calculate you want to apply 137.5 gallons of water to the drip zone each run, right? Run that zone for say 20 minutes, taking a water meter reading before and after If it comes up to say 50 gallons, you can calculate your run time to be about 137.5/50*20 = 55 minutes. Since drip zone shrubs/trees are much less sensitive to short term heat variations, I’d use a Fixed schedule, and specify that number of minutes. It will then, if you use Seasonal Shift, adjust the time when temperatures change.

Adjust your crop coefficient down. It makes a huge difference in days between watering. I’m just working with that adjustment, not an expert.

Thanks everyone! So, I found 3 leaks in the lines and I think that, coupled with adjusting the nozzle inches per hour, the crop coefficient and area I might be in better shape.

thank you!

Unless you have a flow meter contributing data to Rachio, the usage number won’t reflect a leak. The usage shown is merely a calculation based on nozzle inches and run time. So a leak in a drip line wouldn’t register as different usage since the time is the same.