Jan. 16 2012 09:35 AM

IA Viewpoint...

john Farner Irrigation Association Federal Affairs Director

Government affairs and Ia in 2012: What’s in Store for the Irrigation Industry?

As we bid farewell to 2011, we look back at a year that has laid the groundwork for entering a new frontier of policy, regulations and discussions—the likes of which has not been seen by the irrigation industry before. We look ahead to a politically-driven 2012, where our industry will once again be under a microscope.

In reviewing 2011, we have the opportunity to start with a bit of good news: in October, the Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense program issued a notice of intent marks its official intention to remove the 40 percent turfgrass restriction as an option from the single-family new homes specification. For those who are regular readers of Irrigation & Green Industry, you know that this issue was a top priority for the Irrigation Association. The decision by WaterSense to remove this restriction is a victory that should be celebrated by the entire green industry.

This action by WaterSense leaves their water budget tool, which is supported by the Irrigation Association, as the only option for landscape design. If passed, all landscapes installed in WaterSense labeled single-family new homes must meet the requirements of the water budget tool.

In November, WaterSense released the final specification for weather-based irrigation controllers. With labeled products expected to hit the shelves as early as this spring, this new label not only affords the irrigation industry the opportunity to market these labeled weather-based controllers in the marketplace as meeting EPA criteria for water efficiency, but also opens the door for landscape irrigation manufacturers and distributors to become official partners of the WaterSense program, joining companies like Kohler, Moen, Lowe’s and Home Depot.

With these advancements, however, come uncertainties. This coming year will bring us unknowns in the realm of public policy. While Congress and the President will be focused on government spending, job creation and the 2012 elections, states and municipalities will again do much of the relevant legislating and regulating that affects our industry.

We are already seeing a plethora of activity on water-use, licensing of landscape irrigation professionals and use of irrigation technology (rain sensors, smart controllers, etc.) in public policy discussions at the local level. This activity will continue through 2012 as states look to protect their natural resources, while also promoting green infrastructure and jobs in their states and localities.

While we understand the challenges that are ahead, we at the Irrigation Association are excited about the opportunities to position the irrigation industry appropriately within these debates and to tell the positive economic, environmental and social stories that efficient irrigation technologies, products and services have to offer to our communities.

Through 2012, keep an eye out for the Irrigation Association to:

•Increase the influence and credibility of the irrigation industry in the public policy realm.

•Further engage and educate those in the irrigation industry to become strong advocates for the industry.

•Increase the demand for efficient irrigation technologies, products and services through strong public policy.

This won’t be an easy task, but through our dedicated volunteers and staff, we look forward to the opportunities that lie ahead in 2012.

IA News...

Ia Calls on Illinois Landscape Irrigation Members to Fight for Irrigation Contractor Rights

Illinois’ licensing law, which allows irrigation contractors to practice irrigation without having to become a licensed plumber, is set to expire. Some Illinois individuals, including the plumbers’ union and other trade unions are fighting to end the irrigation licensing program. If they succeed, all irrigation contractors in the state would have to become licensed plumbers. IA is opposed to these efforts and supports the rights of Illinois irrigation contractors.

To help irrigation contractors fight for their rights, the IA reached out to all landscape members in Illinois on October 17 with an email and link to the IA’s e-advocacy website. This link enables these members to send an email or fax communication to their elected representatives in the Illinois General Assembly. Resources on the e-advocacy web site are designed to help irrigation professionals connect with their elected officials. If you are interested in this advocacy campaign, and would like additional information, please contact Chad Forcey, state affairs director, at chad@irrigation.org.

SWaT Testing Protocol open for Public Comment

The second draft of the testing protocol for pressure regulating sprinklers is now open for public comment. Smart Water Application Technologies, or SWAT, released the second draft of the testing protocol, which describes tests for sprinklers with non-rotating stems, in September for a 90-day comment period. The testing protocol is designed to validate how well pressure regulating sprinklers can regulate the incoming pressure that then supplies the recommended pressure for various nozzles. Comments can be made at iaswat@irrigation.org until December 15.

SWAT is a national partnership initiative of water purveyors and irrigation industry representatives created to promote landscape water use efficiency through the application of state-of-the-art irrigation technologies.

WaterSense now Recognized in Canada

After reaching an agreement with Environment Canada, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense program is now available for Canadian irrigation professionals to be recognized as WaterSense partners.

If a Canadian irrigation professional holds a certification from one of the recognized professional certifying organizations, including the Irrigation Association, that professional is now able to become a WaterSense partner and use the logo as a marketing tool throughout Canada.

For more information about the recognized certifications by WaterSense and to find out more about how to become a partner, please visit www.epa.gov/watersense/partners/irrigation.html.

Save the Date: Point of Connection, February 8–10, 2012

Join fellow irrigation contractors to “talk shop” in St. Augustine, Florida. The Irrigation Association’s Point of Connection leadership summit offers a oneday seminar on sales and marketing strategies in addition to sessions on irrigation efficiency, technology and standards, and state and local regulations relevant to the irrigation contractor. A field trip to the World Golf Hall of Fame is also on the agenda, along with the annual Texas Hold ’Em poker tournament.

Don’t miss this opportunity to build professional and personal relationships with peers from across the country and take home concrete ideas to help you develop and strengthen your business. Space is limited, for more information, visit www.irrigation.org/poc 2012.

Irrigation, Sixth Edition now available for Purchase

Irrigation, Sixth Edition is a must-have reference for all water managers and those interested in advancing their professional knowledge. This Irrigation Association publication was written and reviewed by industry experts with more than 1,500 years combined experience and condensed into a 1,100 page volume on irrigation systems, technologies and practices.

The irrigation industry classic is now available for purchase by visiting www.irrigation.org/store.

the mission of the Irrigation Association is to promote efficient irrigation.

for more information, call 703-536-7080, write news@irrigation.org or visit www.irrigation.org.