In August 2019, the Henry Dale and Betty Smith Football Center opened at the University of Illinois campus in Champaign. The state-of-the-art facility is the new home of the Fighting Illini football program and will house everything from expanded strength and conditioning and locker rooms to sports medicine spaces and recruiting offices. And, at over 107,000 square feet, this facility also offers ample green space beyond Memorial Stadium in the way of practice fields and recreation spaces that beautify the grounds and help the facility feel like a natural extension of the campus.
And while reliable systems were needed in place to provide potable water and remove wastewater from the building without issue, the water movement and management needs for this project were outside the norm.
What the building also needed was an irrigation system that could help maintain the practice fields while also keeping the aesthetics of the surrounding landscape green. More specifically, the irrigation system needed to guarantee pressure at all times, no matter how many different zones were in use at once.
Typical irrigation pump systems run at a constant speed and provide water to zones in an on or off scenario. The Football Center at the university needed an irrigation system that could do more than that. It required a system that could water multiple practice fields on a varying schedule as well as provide the water needed for landscape irrigation. The most efficient and effective solution would be to use a system that could maintain pressure regardless of what zone was being watered.
This arrangement is possible, but it is more complex than a basic irrigation system and requires a bit of know-how to make it work well. Naturally, it also requires thousands of feet of piping, hundreds of connectors, and pumping equipment, as well. To begin with, a system of this size needs to run at variable speeds in multiples zones to water every aspect of the property. The reverse pressure zone (RPZ) used to prevent backflow and the potential contamination that can occur as a result creates an overall pressure loss in the system. A booster pump overcomes this challenge and ensures reliable delivery pressure as the demand varies when different zones were in use.
Controlling Nearly Every Drop
This irrigation pump system also included Metropolitan Industries’ MetroTech III controller. This PLC-based large color touchscreen controller includes many amazing standard features, including lead/lag programmability.
With this function, the controller can meet the demand when multiple zones are being watered by turning both pumps on, while also having the ability to slow down a single pump if only some flow is needed. The controller automatically alternates to maintain even wear and runtime on the pumps. In the event of an alarm and a pump fails to run, the other pump will come on automatically. The MetroTech III pump controller is the main staple in pumping systems for a wide array of applications.
Additionally, our systems are always equipped with cutting edge technology to help ensure they remain best-in-class. For this particular irrigation system, we used the ABB 880 series of drives to provide the grounds and building maintenance crews with an intuitive way to monitor and control the system.
With Bluetooth compatibility, the drives can connect to your smartphone, which gives complete accessibility for seeing the parameters and drive data without having to scroll through the drive screens or connection to it via a computer. This transparency allows for better troubleshooting, simplifying configuration, and fine-tuning down the road.
More traditional plumbing applications will continue to require expertise from within the water movement industry, but it’s important to remember that the knowledge held by Metropolitan and the network of plumbers and engineers around the country we work with on a regular basis can be applied outside of our “normal” focus areas. So when landscape architects or building engineers are evaluating options for irrigation systems, Metropolitan Industries can help provide valuable solutions that might not otherwise
As a water movement expert with an expanded view of water management, we are able to apply our expertise more broadly. That’s a win for everyone involved.