SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -

Caltrans is installing what are called "smart irrigation" controllers along state highways in the Central Coast in an effort to reduce its water use during the historic drought.

The agency also is installing a recycled-water pipeline in San Luis Obispo County,  and low-flow fixtures in other areas.

"As the drought intensifies here in California, we are making every effort to lead the way conserving the state's precious water supplies," said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty.

More than 30 "smart irrigation" controllers, which can reduce water usage by as much as 50 to 60 percent, will be installed at various locations along Highway 101 and State Route 1, from Santa Barbara County to Santa Cruz County.

The smart irrigation devices monitor plant health and apply water only when absolutely necessary. They automatically turn off when it rains and when it is forecast to rain. They also shut off and notify the water manager if the system malfunctions.

The recycled water pipeline being installed in San Luis Obispo County that will provide recycled water for highway landscape irrigation for Caltrans' district office and maintenance yard in San Luis Obispo.

Bathroom facilities at a dozen Caltrans maintenance yards along the Central Coast are also being upgraded to low-flow fixtures.