Water-Efficient Technology Opportunity: Multi-Stream Rotational Sprinkler Heads

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Multi-stream rotational sprinkler heads can be used for irrigation systems in place of traditional fixed-spray nozzles.

The Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) identified multi-stream rotational sprinkler heads as a water-saving technology that is relevant to the federal sector, is commercially available, and offers significant water-savings potential. 

This overview provides agencies with key information to deploy innovative products and systems that may otherwise be overlooked. It also helps agencies identify water-efficient technologies for consideration when entering into energy savings performance contracts or utility energy service contracts

FEMP used the following considerations when selecting this technology.

  • Underutilized in the federal sector
  • Broad applicability across the federal sector
  • Water and cost savings potential
  • Market availability
  • Produced by multiple manufacturers
  • Ease of installation/suitable as a retrofit

Technology Description

Multi-stream rotational sprinkler heads can be used for irrigation systems in place of traditional fixed-spray nozzles (sprinkler heads). They have a lower precipitation rate and better distribution uniformity compared to traditional pop-up nozzles. They reduce water use and irrigate the landscape more evenly. Multi-stream rotational nozzles apply water in rotating trajectories. This lowers evaporative losses because there is less misting and avoids runoff because water is applied at a slower rate and the soil has time to absorb the water.

Technology Considerations

Multi-stream rotational sprinkler heads are produced by many manufacturers, so they widely available. The nozzles can be installed on new systems or retrofitted on pop-up spray heads. They are well suited for small landscape areas and beneficial for steep slopes where erosion and water runoff are potential issues.

Proven Savings Potential

An independent long-term study comparing multi-stream rotational sprinkler heads with traditional nozzles found that multi-stream rotational sprinklers reduced overall precipitation rates from more than 2 inches of water per hour to 1 inch per hour, with a 45% relative improvement of distribution uniformity over traditional technologies. (Source: Sovocol et al. Field Study of Uniformity Improvements from Multi-stream Rotational Spray Heads and Associated Products. Southern Nevada Water Authority. Accessed March 18, 2015.)

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