Smart Controllers & CIMIS

Smart Controllers

Have you ever scratched your head wondering why you might see commercial properties running their sprinklers when it’s raining? Or wished that your own residential drip system could keep up with the weather changes, only turning on when the plants were truly thirsty instead of you having to make the constant adjustments to its electric timer? Well soon, those landscape irrigation scheduling problems may become as antiquated as rotary telephones!

The silver box to the left of the gate as you enter the gardens houses a smart controller, also known as an ET controller.  ET stands for Evapotranspiration Rate, that is the amount of water used by plants and evaporated from the soil and leaf surface.  Smart controllers make irrigation systems truly automatic by replacing the water used by plants each day depending on temperature, humidity, sunlight, and wind.

Our controller uses local ET data and an on-site weather sensor to apply only the water needed by the plants which are divided into hydrozones.  If you haven’t mixed thirsty plants with your drought tolerant plants, this might be the way to eliminate the headache of changing the irrigation schedule throughout the year.

The California Irrigation Management Information System, or CIMIS, is a network of 140 automated weather stations statewide that provide data that can be used to regulate watering systems, with the Joshua Tree station becoming one of the newest ones in the network!  You can now use your existing irrigation controller, but schedule it using the same information used by the smart controllers.

This state-of-the-art futuristic device will provide Morongo Basin Residents (free of charge) atmospheric information that gets sent to a central computer where it can be accessed to develop landscape watering schedules.   It records real-time temperature, precipitation, humidity, solar radiation, soil temperature, and wind conditions on the ground.   This is the data used in smart controllers.  Ultimately, the goal of this program is to reduce  landscape water waste  with the added bonus of providing educational data for schools and research institutions, air resource monitoring, and more. Residential owners interested in watering their landscape only when it needs it will benefit greatly from this local accurate information.

Lead agencies bringing this technology home to our unique desert climate are Joshua Basin Water District and Copper Mountain College, with financial support from the Mojave Water Agency, Bollinger Consulting Group, and the Rainbird Corporation.

We’ll be posting ET information on this website soon, meanwhile you can log on to CIMIS at to access information on local temperature, precipitation, and more.  Sign up for a free account by going to the CIMIS data tab.   ONce registered you can go to station #233 for daily, weekly, or monthly reports and even have them delivered to your email address daily!

The Morongo Basin's own “CIMIS” station, one of 140 stations of the California Information Management System's network.

The Morongo Basin’s own “CIMIS” station, one of 140 stations of the California Information Management System’s network.