The future of water

Features - Irrigation

Contractors better take control of water management before the government does it for them.

October 11, 2012

Editor’s note: Every month are team of water experts from ValleyCrest Cos. will offer up their insight into the world of irrigation and water.

I appreciate Lawn & Landscape setting the tone for water management in the industry with a dedicated section for water management in every issue.

As one of the three bloggers (joining me are Martha Golea and Alan Harris) given the chance to contribute to this section monthly, I feel this is an excellent opportunity to help make a change in how we manage water. Our goal is to promote water management and sustainability through interesting articles about these subjects.

What’s the issue?
Every second the urban population grows by two people. Fifty percent of the world’s population lives in cities of 10 million people or more. According to the Global Environmental Outlook water withdrawals are predicted to increase by 50 percent by 2025 in developing countries and 18 percent in developed countries.  According to the EPA, nationwide, landscape irrigation is estimated to account for almost one-third of all residential water use, totaling more than 7 billion gallons per day. In the west and other sunny areas landscape water use accounts for over 50 percent of residential water use.  As an industry we have a large target on our back for regulation to reduce water use. In California just a 20 percent reduction in landscape water use would be equivalent to reducing all toilet water use to zero. 

We have a choice.
As an industry we have an opportunity to change the way we manage water. However, the opportunity to make the change is not unlimited.

I have heard more than one lawmaker explain a water shortage in the U.S. is a threat to homeland security.

When I hear the words “threat to homeland security” I know we only have a limited time to act before the government takes control of the situation.

What can we do?
First we need to embrace the technology manufacturers provide for water management. I find only a small percentage of contractors recommend smart controllers to their customers. In some cases, I find contractors telling customers smart controllers only benefit the landscape contractor and they shouldn’t spend money on technology that only benefits the contractor. This is completely irresponsible and our industry suffers from these statements.

In most situations the fastest way to save water for customers is through the proper use of smart controllers. Lack of understanding is the main reason contractors stay away from smart controllers and education is the key to the technology. All contractors should consider the IA Certified Irrigation Contractor program. IA Certified Irrigation Contractors meet minimum experience requirements, pass a written exam and agree to a code of ethics. The IA Certified Irrigation Contractor and Certified Irrigation Designer programs were the first professional certifications to earn the EPA WaterSense label. The IA also offers courses for irrigation professionals who need to stay abreast of the latest technologies.

Also, check with local water purveyors about special “smart” certification programs they may be offering. Many water purveyors offer smart controller incentives to qualified residential and commercial customers. These incentives help make upgrading to a smart irrigation controller even more compelling to your clients. Then promote the benefits of smart irrigation controllers to new and existing clients.

Remember this is just a start. I have a strong desire to change the way we have been managing irrigation water and I need your help. Tweet me your thoughts @h2oTrends or message me on Facebook at Water Bloggers.

The author is director of water management solutions at ValleyCrest Landscape Cos. You can email him at