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What water means to you

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Even if you never touch a rotor and couldn’t care less about flow rates, the water question is going to impact every landscape contractor in America sooner rather than later.

Chuck Bowen | December 5, 2012

ORLANDO, Fla. – This week I spent four days in Orlando, Fla., with contractors, distributors and suppliers for the irrigation industry at the Irrigation Show. They’re bullish on the blue side of the green industry, and so am I. It’s the one common thread that ties everyone in the landscape industry together. You need it to grow flowers and keep turf healthy, you need to manage it as run-off from patios and it’s an increasing worry in the minds of homeowners and property managers.

So, even if you can’t tell a solenoid from a string trimmer, you need to start thinking about water. Here are four reasons why.

1. Thanks to infrastructure that dates in some cases to the Roosevelt administration, water prices are going up, and they’re not going to come down again. In the past 12 years, the cost of water out of the tap (which, for 99.9 percent of homes and businesses is the same water they spray on the lawn) has double and in some cases tripled.

2. Droughts aren’t going to stop, either. Whether you think humans are to blame or not, science shows that temperatures are rising and we’re seeing longer and more severe dry spells. Couple that with water shortages and water savings stops being a feel-good topic and starts becoming a life-altering one.

3. Water management services have a quantifiable green message. You can show Mrs. Jones her water bills year-to-year and show an appreciable difference, with a dollars and cents connection. That’s a lot more tangible than arguments – however science-based and accurate – about carbon sequestration or air quality.

4. Irrigation technology is among the most advanced in the green industry. The opportunity is best in this segment for a contractor to position himself as a professional and valuable adviser for his clients.

Peter Moeller, Toro Irrigation’s director of marketing, said it best during the conference keynote: “Our weather is more unpredictable than ever. Water use will be more scrutinized and … water will simply cost more. A lot more. We will face regulatory challenges, some known some unknown. Let’s talk less about the weather and economic patterns we can’t control and focus on the things we can control.”

There’s a lot contractors can control here, and they’re positioned to take ownership of a core problem facing the country. It’s not if they’ll need to do something, but when.

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