Moranbah Township Irrigation System

Customer: Isaac Regional Council
Location: Moranbah, QLD
Case Study ID: CS-35
Date: September 2016
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Dowdens Pumping & Water Treatment’s Mackay Branch has completed commissioning of the Moranbah ‘whole-of-town’ Automated Irrigation System. This Dowdens designed irrigation system was delivered to improve the control and ongoing maintenance of township irrigation within Moranbah, QLD.

Dowdens Mackay’s successful tender was centred on an innovative Central Control System that enabled remote monitoring and maintenance of the 52 irrigation sites throughout Moranbah. The Dowdens designed controller is based in the Goonyella Road Council Depot. Dowdens Central Control System comprises a desktop computer, irrigation software, an online weather station and localised communication and data collection infrastructure (routers, modem and radio transmitters/receivers).

The Problem

Isaac Regional Council (IRC) specified a number of key criteria during the tendering process that the system was to deliver. These system criteria included, but were not limited to: provide the ability for nighttime automatic irrigation to numerous local Athletics Fields that have previously been irrigated manually (using static sprinklers and travelling irrigators) during the day; to replace an aging irrigation system located on Mills Avenue and achieving an overall reduction in labour relating to ongoing maintenance.

Our Solution

This irrigation system is the first time Central Control System architecture has been utilised anywhere in the Isaac Regional Council shire. The system transmits all data collected/collated via several forms of communication i.e. radio frequencies, internet connection (Wi-Fi / 3G) and direct-wired connections. The Dowdens designed Central Control System has the ability to communicate to all Toro Sentinel Controllers via either radiofrequency or internet connection.

Central Control System

The operator has the ability to program and monitor all controllers via the Central Controller. The Operator can set independent watering days, start times and run times for each and every station valve connected to Sentinel Controllers. Each day a detailed activity report is sent to all operators notifying them of all system activities.

These included:

  • Number of actual stations operated
  • How long for, if any stations recorded abnormal flow (high or low)
  • System communication success or failures
  • Abnormal solenoid coil current (high or low) 
  • Status of all soil moisture sensors

Reports can easily be generated to show the history of all specific system activities such as those listed above.

Wireless Weather Station

A wireless Weather Station and remote Soil Moisture Sensors were installed and connected to the Central Controller to efficiently monitor the region’s weather conditions in real-time, and then adjust the parameters of the system accordingly. The Weather Station and remote Soil Moisture Sensors are used primarily to prevent irrigation from occurring during and after localised rain events and to calculate Evapotranspiration (ET) based irrigation running times. 

For example, the Central Control System is programmed to turn all irrigation off for 3 days (adjustable timeframe) when more than 10mm of rain is received on any 1 day (adjustable timeframe). Weather Station calculates the daily ET and automatically adjusts irrigation duration accordingly (lower ET = lower run time).

This system has provided IRC control and monitoring capabilities of 52 irrigation sites throughout Moranbah from one central site. Delivering vastly improved energy and water use efficiencies this Dowdens designed irrigation systems features:

  • Automatic shutdown of all irrigation during rain events
  • Automatic adjustment of irrigation run times based on ET
  • Daily automatic reporting of all irrigation sites activity
  • Automatic irrigation for 75% of median strips located on Mills Avenue
  • Addition of quick coupler valves to flush lateral lines thereby minimising blockages
  • Automatic irrigation of Little Athletics and AFL Sporting fields resulting in reduced labour required for manual setup of irrigators
  • Reduction of effluent contact with public via system only watering at night
  • Filters on effluent mainline have minimised blockages to irrigation valves and sprinklers, thereby reducing the labour required to clear blockages.

Key Components

  • Central Control System to 52 Sites throughout Moranbah
  • 3 x Effluent Mainline Filters
  • Semi-Automatic TORO Self Cleaning Filter with 120-micron screen 
  • Wafer Style Butterfly Valves with S/S Discs
  • Toro 640 Series Pop-up Gear Drive Sprinklers
  • Various sizes of Lilac Striped Poly Pipe
  • Toro Sentinel Station Wireless Output Board Controller
  • Toro Solenoid Valves & Flow Sensors

Project Design Philosophy

Dowdens Pumping & Water Treatment’s design philosophy for this project was:

  • Cost-Effectiveness
  • Current Best Practice
  • Ease of Installation
  • Simple & Effective System Operation
  • System Reliability
  • Reduced Ongoing Maintenance Requirements

Brands used in this project