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  • Author or Editor: Paul Monaghan x
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Stormwater ponds are widely used in urban developments to control and clean stormwater and add aesthetic appeal to the landscape. This dual function of residential stormwater systems can create conditions at odds for the optimal performance of either function. This investigation sought to discover connections between aesthetics, plants, design, maintenance, and municipal codes as a means to improve water quality and stormwater pond appearance. To establish the connections between visual quality and environmental function, we conducted five focus groups, four interviews with landscape professionals, and reviewed regulatory codes for 46 municipalities. We concluded that homeowner preferences and the social influence of neighbors were closely linked to design, codes, and management issues. Insights gained include the shared social value of wildlife viewing and aesthetic preferences for diverse, but maintained shoreline planting.

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Smart irrigation controllers are capable of substantially decreasing landscape water applications under residential high water-use conditions in Florida. Their implementation has been incentivized by governmental agencies and water utilities in an effort to reduce public-supply water demand and conserve water resources. However, the bulk of the research on smart controllers for urban landscapes has focused on performance dimensions. To successfully promote them, feedback from end-users is critical. This paper provides an evaluation of homeowner response to evapotranspiration (ET)-based and soil moisture sensor (SMS)-based smart controllers installed as part of a pilot project conducted in Orange County, FL. The objectives of the study were to collect demographic information, assess conservation attitudes and irrigation system knowledge, and gather feedback on the use of smart controllers from the pilot project’s residential cooperators. Data were collected through an online survey and analyzed using relative frequency distributions, text analysis, independent means t tests, and logistic regression. Results indicated that a majority of survey participants were satisfied with their controllers and planned to continue using them. Both ET and SMS controllers were consistently praised for saving money and irrigating efficiently. However, the likelihood that participants would continue using their controllers after the completion of the project was only significantly predicted by their levels of technical knowledge regarding the workings of the devices and whether they had experienced any challenges operating them. Efforts to promote both initial and long-term adoption may be most effective by emphasizing the economic benefits of investing in smart irrigation controllers and by disseminating best management practices that facilitate their understanding and successful operation.

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