Irrigation Design

Caltrans landscape design guidance
Irrigation Design Guidance

Temporary irrigation systems are a good strategy to help conserve California's potable water resources.


Irrigation systems are used by Landscape Architects to provide supplemental water to trees, shrubs and groundcover, as required to support aesthetic, safety, environmental mitigation, stormwater pollution prevention, and erosion control. Irrigations systems support planting that helps integrate the highway within its natural or built environment to provide human scale and maintain an area’s unique visual context.

Cost Effective Design

Irrigation must be cost effective. Landscape architects design irrigation systems that have low life-cycle costs and able to endure for the long-term. 

Water Conservation

Caltrans is a good steward of California’s limited water resources and actively manages, promotes and implements water conservation practices within the highway transportation system and associated facilities.  Cost effective and appropriate water conservation strategies are employed in the design, construction, and maintenance of transportation facilities including "Smart" Irrigation Controllers, wood and gravel mulches, hardscape surfaces, and recycled water to the maximum extext possible.

For information on how to design irrigation systems that comply with Caltrans water conservation requirements, please visit our Water Conservation web page.

New landscape projects that irrigate greater than 500 square feet are required to comply with either California's statewide Model Water Efficiency Ordinance (MEWLO) or the local ordinance, if one has been adopted. Information on California's MWELO is available at our MWELO web page.

"Smart" Irrigation Controllers

Each District has standardized on one (or sometimes two) "Smart" irrigation controller systems. Standardizing on a single system streamlines both construction and maintenance activities by reducing training needs as well as reducing the need to stockpile a variety of spare parts. The list below identifies the controller systems that each District has selected as their District (Maintenance Region) standard.

2 Motorolla IrriNet  
3 Calsense ET2000e  
4 ET Water  
5 Rainmaster Eagle Plus  
Rainbird Maxicom
6 Toro Sentinel  
7 ET Water  
8 Calsense ET2000e  
9 Rainbird Maxicom  
10 Calsense ET2000e  
Rainbird Maxicom
11 Calsense ET2000e    
Rainbird Maxicom
12 WeatherTRAK  


Public Information Finding (PIF) Information

It is not difficult for a District to obtain Blanket PIF approval from the FHWA. If you would like to pursue obtaining a District Blanket RICS approval from FHWA, review and modify the submittal from District 11 attached below, and submit it to your FHWA coordinator for review and approval.

Sample RICS PIF Request - MS Word Format

Sample RICS PIF Request - PDF Format

FHWA PIF Guidelines


Updated: October. 10, 2017