For years, Kevin Steed has been working on ways to save water. His efforts led to the development of Watering Today, a recently released app that helps reduce the amount of the precious resources used for irrigation.
The app tells users the amount of water needed to irrigate a piece of land, the best days to water, and the recommended run times for each sprinkler zone based on current weather conditions at their location. It also provides directions on how to implement changes on timers or manual sprinkler systems.
By following the Watering Today instructions, homeowners will get the same results as expensive commercial systems, Steed said. The app has the potential to save tens of thousands of gallons of water per residence each year.
“Basically, it is like having a personal water manager in your pocket,” he said.
Steed also created the Precip-Mate Sprinkler Tool, an app that helps the do-it-yourself homeowner with sprinkler installation, maintenance, and repairs. He provides much of that information at no charge on his website, which recently had more than 11,000 views in one month
The two apps each sell for $4.99 on the Apple store.
In addition, Steed has developed a free app, Precip-Mate Find GPM (gallons per minute), that can find water flow from a leak and calculate available flow rate per minute or per hour through a pipe or hose.
Steed, a Murray resident who works as an area maintenance supervisor for Salt Lake County Parks, built the apps on his own time and at his own expense.
He became interested in proper irrigation through his first full-time job as a golf course waterman, which required him to manually water 60 acres of manicured turf by putting in place individual sprinklers called quick couplers, Steed said. The system produced poor results so he began experimenting with run times, nozzle sizes, placement, and watering days.
The experience showed him the importance of scheduling and he elevated the condition of the golf course from mediocre to extraordinary in a few years, according to Steed.
To supplement his on-the-job training, Steed said he hit the library to study agronomy and sometimes bought books to find even more information on the subject. He also has spent four years teaching himself computer programming with some pointers from a local programmer and devoting hours in the evening after work developing his apps.
Steed said he has spent about $20,000 creating the apps instead of the more than $150,000-plus it would have cost if he had hired a programmer. The Sprinkler tool app has had more than 5,000 downloads and he has recouped most of the money he invested.
But Steed is still disappointed. He had hoped for backing from a government water conservation program so he could offer the apps for free but has been unable to generate interest from any agency.
“My goal was to help people,” Steed said of his motivation to develop the apps.
He added the apps are especially timely because of the drought gripping Utah.
“People are talking about the drought every single day,” Steed said. “This is information everybody should have.”