Smart Water Application Technologies, or SWAT, was formed in 2002 as a partnership between water purveyors and irrigation companies to promote landscape water-use efficiency through the application of state-of-the-art irrigation technologies. SWAT’s creation reflected larger trends. With the U.S. experiencing widespread drought, water providers were looking for ways to reduce outdoor water use.

Although manufacturers responded to water shortages by introducing more efficient irrigation equipment to the marketplace, the credibility of their claims were still in question without independent verification. SWAT’s focus was to create science-based testing protocols to verify that innovative irrigation products really saved water.

For more than 10 years, SWAT has developed protocols for smart controllers, soil moisture sensors, rain shutoff devices, pressure regulating spray heads, sprinkler check valves and sprinkler nozzles. Protocols are drafted by irrigation experts, then opened to public comment before being revised and adopted by third-party testing agencies.

“Any irrigation system has the potential to be more efficient with the use of better products,” says Brent Mecham, Irrigation Association industry development director. “And while manufacturer claims of water savings are useful, demonstrating the validity of those claims with third-party testing adds tremendous value and credibility.”

SWAT’s website provides detailed reports on all tested products at www.irrigation.org/Tested_Products.aspx to help specifiers, contractors and end-users make more informed decisions when installing or upgrading an irrigation system. Many water providers use these test results as the basis for offering rebates and incentives. Tested products have also been incorporated into local codes and laws by communities looking to adopt efficiency standards for irrigation or considering exemptions to water-use restrictions.

SWAT’s testing protocols have also been instrumental in the development of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense program. EPA has used SWAT criteria as a starting point to define standards that irrigation products must meet to earn the WaterSense label.