Control Your Sprinkler From the Web With HydroPoint

While we often write about startups aiming to help consumers monitor their energy consumption via the web, what about water consumption? Petaluma, Calif.-based startup HydroPoint Data Systems has a solution called WeatherTRAK that lets you control sprinkler systems across multiple properties from one web interface. Recently HydroPoint rolled out version 5.4 of its web-based interface, which allows users to monitor their irrigation systems with real-time feedback on field conditions, reducing the number of required site visits.

The system works by pulling data from 40,000 independently operated weather stations to create a high-resolution weather map that gives WeathTRAK information down to the square kilometer. Beyond merely measuring rainfall, the system figures out a given area’s evapotranspiration rate. That information is then transmitted to the field via cellular networks where smart irrigation hardware can decide if plants in the landscape needs more water.

Landscape maintenance contractors simply program into the system a few key environmental factors, like what sorts of plants they’ve planted and what the soil type is; WeatherTRAK will then water the landscape on schedule with minimal waste.

Founded in 2002, the company is backed by cleantech VC heavyweights like Rockport Capital, Firelake Capital and Chrysalix Energy. HydroPoint has sold systems to customers like Google, eBay and Lockheed Martin, all of which use WeatherTRAK to monitor landscape watering across their campuses.

HydroPoint says that the typical return on investment for a customer is between one and two years in terms of water savings. The company estimates that in 2007 alone, its 15,000 subscribers saved more than 6.7 billion gallons of water, reducing their costs by $60 million. And that’s just a drop in the bucket in terms of water waste in the U.S. Some areas of the country are so water-constrained they’ve even set up whistle-blower programs, such as in Fresno, where citizens can report online cases of water waste.