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Irrigation Association of New York

Rain Sensors – Getting the word out

It was a simple Facebook post. A photo – something those of us who are on social media are used to – but it wasn’t a “selfie.”

It was a depiction of a problem those in the installed-irrigation industry are all too familiar with, and one that people who aren’t in the industry too often don’t recognize.

Here’s how Rich Silverman, who posted a rainy-day photograph on his Rain Rich Facebook page, described it:

“I stopped at a major shopping center, the Walt Whitman Mall, to pick up breakfast and found that their sprinkler system was on and running. They are wasting thousands of gallons of water for no reason. A simple rain sensor would work great in this location.”

As Rich has described it to me, long before he took that photo, “too many people believe rain sensors don’t work.” Apparently, even a big operation like the Walt Whitman Mall either believes that, or isn’t concerned enough about the problem to correct it.

The obvious problem with that attitude is that first of all, it’s wrong. As any irrigation professional can tell you, rain sensors not only work, they prevent the needless waste of not only water, but the energy it takes to get the water where you want it.

But there’s another reason – public attitudes. There is a pervasive attitude that we are running out of water. So when it’s obviously being wasted, the image hurts the industry.

So a campaign to make people aware that rain sensors really do work is a way to raise the image of the industry, and make irrigation itself more palatable.

We are now exploring just such a campaign, using video, social media and traditional media.

Such a campaign would involve a video, produced by us, posted on YouTube and promoted on other social-media platforms, then further promoted using the regular press. It might even be a slogan IANY members could adopt and promote on their bills to customers.

It’s a responsible way to promote a responsible industry.

Maybe one day, if we’re successful, photos like the one Rich Silverman posted on Facebook, will be nothing more than a historical artifact.

Tom Shanahan is president of The Shanahan Group, IANY’s Albany lobbying firm