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Lakewood Ranch continues green practices

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  • | 4:00 a.m. October 1, 2014
  • East County
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EAST COUNTY — If Ryan Heise was asked to describe landscape practices and maintenance in Lakewood Ranch, he’d likely use the words “green” or “environmentally sound”.

Heise, the director of operations for Lakewood Ranch Town Hall, and Paul Chetlain, maintenance manager, have implemented a range of technologies that rely on energy from the sun.

Town Hall has overseen the development of a solar irrigation pump, entrance lighting and aeration units for stormwater ponds throughout Lakewood Ranch.

About a week ago, after hearing concerns from Summerfield residents at recent CDD meetings, maintenance crews constructed a solar-powered irrigation pump. The pump will water plants located near the wall that separates State Road 70 from the Summerfield community.

“The pump is the most unique application we have,” Heise said. “It doesn’t have sprinkler force, but it does irrigate plant material. There was no irrigation anywhere close to the plants and we needed a solution.”

The pump works by harvesting the sun’s energy through solar panels located on the pond’s edge. The solar energy travels through a power cable that connects to a floatation device (See graphic).

The floatation device, which sits on the pond’s surface, is also connected to the irrigation pump and pulls water from the stormwater retention pond that is filtered through the pump and onto the plants near the wall.

How much water the plants receive is contingent on the amount of sunlight on that particular day.

“Basically, it’s a solar-powered irrigation pump for temporary landscaping,” said Dave Sivia, maintenance technician.

Chetlain sees the technology as a cost saver with minimal financial impacts to Lakewood Ranch residents.

By using the solar-fueled pumps, the system eliminates labor costs for maintenance technicians to manually water the plants daily. The pumps also nix transportation costs accrued from traveling to the site.

Town Hall has also utilized more aeration systems over the last few months, which produce oxygen for stormwater retention ponds. By using energy transmitted from the sun onto the solar panels, power is sent to an air compressor and batteries and then through a cable that signals an air diffuser to create bubbles.

The bubbles circulate oxygen through the ponds, which is beneficial to plant and marine life.

To Heise, the benefits exceed the estimated $1,500 cost for a new device.

“These practices make sense financially,” Heise said. “Yes, there will be maintenance. But, we’re talking maybe $400 over a four-year period. The ponds will be healthier, and it will boost biological activity.

These systems support Lakewood Ranch’s legacy of being a green community.”

How the solar pump works

Contact Amanda Sebastiano at [email protected].



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