LEGISLATION & REGULATION
NALP urges action on H-2B ‘crisis’
Landscapers were informed by the Department of Labor recently that they would not receive the H-2B workers they were counting on in 2018. This year, due to an unprecedented volume of applications, more than 60 percent of seasonal businesses were unsuccessful in getting H-2B workers, according to a press release from the National Association of Landscape Professionals, Fairfax, Virginia, www.landscapeprofessionals.org.
“Many landscape companies will be facing a devastating employee shortage this year because they didn’t get their H-2B workers,” says Paul Mendelsohn, vice president of Government Relations at NALP.
“In this economy, landscape professionals can’t find enough men and women willing to do physical labor.”
NALP is urging everyone in the industry to take action. The association says it wants companies affected by labor shortages to use NALP’s Advocacy Center to send Congressional representatives a pre-written email, tweet or Facebook post.
To get involved with H-2B advocacy efforts or to be notified of fly-ins to Capitol Hill, contact Paul Mendelsohn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Texas officials receive input on irrigation classification
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality hosted a testimony hearing in nine locations throughout the state in January seeking input from the irrigation and backflow industries, cities, water districts and any other interested parties on whether irrigation should be classified as a health hazard.
The meetings were held throughout the state in various locations, including in Fort Worth, Tyler, Houston, Corpus Christi, Harlingen, El Paso, Austin, Wolfforth and San Antonio.
A health hazard is defined in the Chapter 344 rules as “A cross-connection or potential cross-connection with an irrigation system that involves any substance that may, if introduced into the potable water supply, cause death or illness, spread disease, or have a high probability of causing such effects.”
The International Plumbing Code, the Uniform Plumbing Code; the University of Southern California Foundation for Cross-Connection Control and Hydraulic Research; the American Water Works Association; and the American Backflow Prevention Association all consider irrigation, with or without chemical injection or additives, to be a health hazard due to the fecal material, fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides and other chemical and biological contaminants that may exist within the piping system of both residential and commercial irrigation systems.
On Nov10, 2016, the TCEQ’s Irrigator Advisory Council voted to recommend the classification of landscape irrigation as a health hazard to protect the public water supply and to stay consistent with these national and international standards.
According to the Chair of the IAC, John DeCell, “The real issue here is public health and safety. We should do all we can to protect the water supply, and not simply install a backflow prevention assembly and hope that it works forever without any further testing.”
More information on the rule petition is available at www.tceq.texas.gov/drinkingwater/irrigation/landscape-irrigation-regulation-stakeholder-process.
Lawnmower exchange program helps cut down pollution
Weber State University, Ogden, Utah, has partnered with several other groups to sponsor a lawnmower exchange program for those who want to trade in their gas-powered lawnmower for an electric one.
“Cut Pollution — Mow Electric” enables eligible residents of Utah to enter a lottery for the opportunity to exchange their operable gas-powered mowers for one of 762 new Kobalt 40-volt cordless electric lawn mowers with mulching capability.
According to local reports, people who live in areas that regularly experience poor air quality as determined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are eligible for the program. The replacement mowers are worth more than $300.
“While a single mower may not seem like a major source of pollution, the emissions are relatively high when compared to an average car and are generated in close proximity to the person pushing the mower,” says Alice Mulder, director of WSU’s Sustainability Practices and Research Center.
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