Is Your Landscape Irrigation System Ready for Winter?

Image result for winter residential landscape(Note: Portions of this article originally appeared in SportTurf Magazine)

The dreary days of November remind us that it’s time to start thinking about preparing your irrigation systems for winter.

Here are some tips for winterizing an irrigation system:

Preventing Pipe Damage

Of course, water expands when it freezes. Since automatic irrigation systems are usually buried only about twelve inches below the surface of the soil, any water left in the system over the winter (even a mild winter) will certainly freeze. This causes damage to pipes, fittings, valves, and sprinklers. And this damage can be expensive and time-consuming to repair next spring. So, preventing winter damage by properly winterizing the irrigation system is important.

The following video clip demonstrates the consequences of failing to do so:

 

The most common method of winterization is to use compressed air to force water out of the irrigation system. However, some irrigation systems are equipped with automatic or manual drain valves. These do not require compressed air to winterize. Check with your installing contractor to determine if your irrigation system has automatic or manual drain valves.

If you’re not sure, then go ahead and use compressed air. Using compressed air on an irrigation system equipped with automatic or manual drain valves will not harm the system components, and will ensure the irrigation system is properly winterized.

Selecting an Air Compressor

Air compressors are available in various sizes. A properly sized air compressor is critical in order do effectively and efficiently blow air into the irrigation system, forcing any water out. The most common portable air compressor (representing about 80% of the portable air compressors in use today) is the 185 portable air compressor. This machine is rated at 185 cfm at 100 psi at full load.

This type of compressor can be found through a contractors’ equipment rental shop, and it’s more than adequate for most residential and commercial irrigation systems. Smaller 5 h.p. electric air compressors, even if they’re 100 psi, do not deliver enough volume of air to adequately winterize an irrigation system.

How-To: Compressed Air Winterization

When using a compressor to winterize your system, follow these steps:

  • Shut off the water to the system at the point of connection. The system shut-off valve may be either a ball valve or gate valve. It should be located in the basement or directly behind the water meter.
  • Next, open a zone valve to relieve the system pressure.
  • Attach the air hose from the air compressor to the blow-out point. The blow-out point is usually located directly behind the backflow device. The blow-out point may be a quick coupling valve, a hose bib, or a boiler drain.
A note of caution: The expanding air coming from the air compressor into the irrigation system will get hot and may melt the plastic pipe. Carefully check the temperature of the air hose connection at the blow-out point. Slow down or stop momentarily if it feels too hot! Cycling through each zone two or three times for short intervals will prevent too much heat buildup.

 

  • Set the pressure regulator on the air compressor at 50 to 80 psi.
  • On smaller residential systems, where the zones are typically about 10 gpm or less, open one electric remote control valve manually. Then cycle through all the other zones two to three minutes by manually opening each valve or by electrically operating each valve at the controller. Opening one valve manually will help to keep the air compressor from building up too much pressure, while assuring an adequate volume of air to thoroughly blow out all the water in the system. (On larger systems, it may not be necessary to open one valve manually.)
  • Allow the air to flow through each zone until water and water vapor no longer appears from any sprinklers in the zone. Start with the zone with the highest elevation in the system or farthest from the point of connection. Blow out each zone successively toward the point of connection. It’s a good idea to cycle through each zone two times, to ensure no water is remaining.

How-To: Automatic Drain System Winterization

Some systems are equipped with automatic drains that open when the system pressure falls below 10 psi. For these systems, it is usually only necessary to turn off the water.

  • Open a drain valve after the point of connection.
  • Winterize the backflow device and controller (See “Backflow Preventer Winterization” below.)

Some irrigation systems incorporate automatic drain valves on the laterals with manual drain valves on the main line. The manual drain valves will be located in small valve boxes at the end and at low points on the main line. Open the drain valves, and allow the water to drain out completely. Then close the drain valve.

How-To: Manual Drain System Winterization

If your system is equipped with manual drain valves:

  • Locate the drain valve for each zone and the main line. The manual drain is usually located in a small valve box at the end of the zone and at every low point. Also, the main line will have a manual drain at the end of the line and at every low point.
  • Open each drain valve, allowing all the water to drain out, and then close the manual drains.
  • Winterize the backflow device and controller (See “Backflow Preventer Winterization” below.)

How-To: Backflow Preventer Winterization

The backflow preventer is the plumbing device attached to the outside of your house. It is the source of water to the irrigation system, and it can can freeze and burst in only a few hours of below-freezing temperatures. So winterizing your backflow preventer is critical.

Here’s how: (Refer to the above diagram.)

  • Turn off the main shut-off valve to the system (1).
  • Using an adjustable wrench, remove the outlet drain plug or spigot (5) on the outside piping.
  • Turn valves (3 and 4) to a 45-degree angle (half-open/half-closed position).
  • Cover/wrap the backflow valve and all copper pipe with a large towel or blanket.
  • Place 2-3 gallon bucket underneath drain (2) and open the drain valve. Generally, 1-2 gallons of water will empty into the bucket. Once all the water has drained out of the pipe, close the drain valve.

How-To: Controller and Rain Sensor Winterization

To prepare the irrigation controller for winter, simply turn the controller to the off or “rain shutdown” position. (You can also disconnect the power and remove the battery, but this is not necessary.) Do not allow the controller to cycle through an irrigation schedule without water in the system. 

If your irrigation system is equipped with a rain sensor or a soil moisture sensor, it’s not usually necessary to cover or remove the sensor for the winter. Check with the manufacturer to make sure your rain sensor does not require any special instructions for winterization.

How-To: Pump Winterization

If you have a submersible pump (i.e., located in a lake, stream or pond), the check valve at the pump must be removed to keep the discharge hose from freezing. The best way is to simply remove the pump and discharge hose from the water each winter, and reinstall in the spring.

If you have a centrifugal pump, follow these steps:

  • Remove the drain valve (located at the base of the pump housing) and store it for the winter.
  • Disconnect the power supply, to prevent the pump from being accidentally turned on without any water. (A pump running without water will quickly burn up.)
  • If the pump is drawing water from a lake or stream, you must remove the intake hose or suction line completely from the water and store it for the winter.
  • If a check valve is located on the discharge side of the pump, it too must be removed and stored for the winter.

Leave It to the Pros

As you can see, preparing an irrigation system for winter can be a complicated process. A knowledgeable professional is essential to minimize damage caused by freezing. An improperly winterized irrigation system can be an expensive proposition next spring.

Join Us at the 2017 Irrigation Show in Orlando!

Show Is Set for November 8-9, Education Conference for November 6-10

Irrigation Show 2017 is the only national trade show designed specifically for irrigation professionals. It’s where the irrigation industry comes together to network, learn and promote irrigation.

Nearly 5,000 distributors, dealers, contractors, consultants and growers are expected to attend this year’s event. You’ll have the opportunity to:

  • Check out innovative products, technologies and services.show2
  • Explore new suppliers.
  • Learn about the latest business trends and irrigation best practices.
  • Network with current business partners and with industry leaders who share the Ohio Irrigation Association’s commitment to efficient irrigation.

For exhibitor information, including booth space fees, assignment, and 2017 floor plan, click here.

Educational Opportunities

While enjoying sunny Orlando, be sure to attend some of the many irrigation seminars and classes that are offered. You’ll learn concepts and practical skills you can implement immediately.

244IrrigationShow2015LongBeach_boxScheduled classes offer:

  • Real-world applications and irrigation case studies.
  • Current techniques, field-tested information and best practices.
  • Instructors with industry expertise and proven teaching experience.

One-hour seminars will provide detailed coverage on a focused topic in landscape irrigation. Seminars are open to all attendees with a full registration. Participants will earn 1.00 CEU for each hour. This year’s topics will include:

  • Irrigating Green Roofs
  • Pressure Regulation to Improve Irrigation Efficiency
  • Basis of Design
  • Top 5 Employment Law Issues Facing Contractors

For a complete list of irrigation education classesclick here.  For a complete list of irrigation seminarsclick here.

A Proven Winner

Attendance at last year’s Irrigation Show was up double digits. Exhibitor presence was strong, and new product introductions were plenty.

In fact, research of past shows has indicated a strong correlation between show attendance and future sales. Specifically, within 12 months of the show:

  • 77% of the attendees purchased a product or service as a result of contacts made at the show.
  • 90% of the attendees contacted exhibitors met at the show.
  • 90% of the attendees visited exhibitor websites based on information from the show.

Check out this promotional video from last year’s Irrigation Show: 


 Sources:

Irrigation Association

Green Industry Pros

WaterSense Celebrates 10-Year Mark

Over the past decade, EPA’s WaterSense program has sparked a market transformation all across North America for irrigation products that save water, energy, and money.

The program was recently threatened by Trump administration budget cuts. (See related article, “AWE Fears WaterSense May Lose Funding.”) But that threat is on hold for now. (See box below.)

Let’s take a look at some of the program’s accomplishments in the last 10 years…

Label and Certification Milestones

Since 2007, more than 21,000 product models of plumbing fixtures and irrigation controllers have earned the WaterSense label for efficiency and performance.  More than 5,000 new models earned the label in 2016 alone. Nearly 68 million individual labeled products have been shipped to date. 

Beginning in 2006, WaterSense certification programs have focused on water-efficient techniques and technologies for certified irrigation system designers, auditors, and installation and maintenance professionals. Since then, thousands of irrigation specialists have been certified and gained an edge in the competitive marketplace.

The Three “P’s” — Products, Practices, People

In an effort to reduce the waste of outdoor water, the EPA program has promoted the three “P’s”— products, practices, and people. This includes:

  • Designing water-smart landscapes that are well-suited for the local climate
  • Installing WaterSense-labeled irrigation controllers, and
  • Hiring WaterSense-certified irrigation professionals.

Their efforts have paid off. For instance, in 2016, the number of labeled irrigation controllers increased by an impressive 63% over the previous year.  These new, web-based models allow users to adjust their irrigation systems via an app on their smartphone.

What’s Next?

In 2017, the WaterSense program is focused on product labeling for pressure-regulating sprinkler bodies. The idea is that large amounts of water can be wasted whenever spray sprinklers operate under higher-than-normal pressure. In other words, significant water savings can be realized by regulating this pressure. To this end, the program recently released a draft specification for these new pressure-regulating sprinklers.

Let’s Keep It Going

The AWE is working to ensure that the WaterSense program can continue unabated. But they need help. Which is why they are seeking signers of letters supporting their proposed legislation to keep it going. To join in this effort, click here.


Environmental Protection Agency

Alliance for Water Efficiency

Interior Appropriations Subcommittee

Wi-Fi-Based Irrigation Technology Explained

Are you still in the dark about how to best incorporate Wi-Fi-based irrigation technology into your business?

The national Irrigation Association recently aired a webinar focused on the growing popularity of this technology, as well as the advantages and opportunities it brings to the landscape irrigation market. (See related article, “Internet-Based Smart Irrigation Systems.”) To purchase the IA webinar, click here.

Landscape Management magazine recently spoke with webinar presenters Stuart Eyring, president of Hydro-Rain, and Chris Klein, CEO and co-founder of Rachio. Here are some highlights of that interview:

How They Work

Q: How do Wi-Fi irrigation controllers work?

Chris Klein (CK): A Wi-Fi-based irrigation controller uses the homeowner’s Wi-Fi network to connect to the cloud. That’s where a lot of the process and scheduling takes place, and then that information is sent back down to the controller. You can have access to it through an app on any device you want—a desktop computer, mobile phone, tablet, etc.—and they all communicate with the same computers in the cloud.

Q: Have you seen examples of Wi-Fi controllers being used to upgrade older systems?

CK: Yes, this is happening at a rapid pace. Eighty-five percent of our customers are replacing working controllers, and it’s just as easy as replacing any other controller.

Q: How do you program Wi-Fi controllers?

Stuart Eyring (SE): In terms of programming, the smartphone apps dramatically add to the ease of which programing is done—it’s much better than programming a typical display controller. But there’s a difference in comfort level in terms of where the user base is coming from. There is a transition point to getting people comfortable with this.

Weather Station Access

Q: Traditional smart controllers had their own weather instruments on-site, but Wi-Fi-based irrigation controllers now have access to millions of weather stations. How do they get evapotranspiration (ET) information?

CK: We use a variety of weather data providers and run them through equations to get ET. This process is getting more and more sophisticated. The other cool thing is homeowners can choose a weather station, which promotes continued engagement with their irrigation system.

SE: In our case, we use the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service database in the U.S. Internationally, we use a database out of Norway. But it actually can be very helpful to have a rain sensor at the location, as well, because it can improve reliability.

Q: So you can add other sensors to a Wi-Fi controller?

SE: Yes, we’ve seen an increase in the use of sensing devices like weather stations and moisture sensors on-site that improve the quality of data.

Connections, Security and Updates

Q: What happens to the controller if it loses the Wi-Fi connection?

SE: The majority of the data is kept in the cloud, but there is a basic operating program that’s stored on the actual controller. While the controller won’t typically make any adjustments based on environmental conditions while in that mode, it will continue to run. When the connection is reestablished, the adjustments will begin again. This is typical across manufacturers.

Q: How do you protect security in terms of Wi-Fi and passwords?

SE: Security definitely can be a concern to a homeowner when they allow someone access to their network. But there is a difference between a contractor connecting to a homeowner’s network and connecting through the cloud. In an ideal case, the homeowner is sharing an access code through an app that would allow their contractor to control the system through the cloud, but not have access to the homeowner’s network.

Q: What happens if I buy my controller today and in 60 days it’s out of date?

CK: Updates to the firmware and the app happen automatically, so customers always have the latest and greatest version. In terms of hardware, who knows what will happen in the future, but as of now, our Generation 1 and 2 products work the same.

SE: In most cases, you won’t even know the firmware has been updated unless you go in and look at it. 

(The above flyer can be downloaded and customized for your business. Ewing Irrigation and Landscape Supply offers it to irrigation contractors as a free sales tool.)

Opportunities and Support

Q: What are the business impacts and opportunities that can be enjoyed by contractors venturing into this arena?

CK: There is a great opportunity to impact a contractor’s business by having a number of connected customers. By installing that product and working with them you have a connection with them. You can stay in touch, the homeowner knows where to go for help and it presents an opportunity for customer retention.

Q: What about support? How do you help contractors when they are stuck?

CK: We have a dedicated contractor phone line and can be reached through email and chat, too.

SE: We have noticed that there is really more upfront hand-holding required. But once the Wi-Fi-based irrigation controller is installed and operating, support requirements go down. That’s because of the ease of the interface and how intuitive it is. Getting started can be challenging, but once contractors get the hang of it, it’s really very easy.


Sources:

Landscape Management

Irrigation Association

What Are YOU Doing to Promote Smart Irrigation Month?

It’s that time of year again…July is Smart Irrigation Month and, as usual, there are many ways  for businesses and consumers to participate in the campaign.

First launched in 2005, Smart Irrigation Month continues to gain traction each year as consumers and irrigation specialists alike recognize the positive impact efficient irrigation and water use provides to all of us.

Give This a Try!

Place a few empty tuna cans around your lawn while you’re watering and measure how long it takes your sprinkler to fill them with a half inch of water. Then, try watering that amount of time twice a week, gauge how your landscape responds, and adjust based on weather conditions. Or simplify by replacing your standard clock timer controller with a WaterSense-labeled irrigation controller.

Smart Systems

Among the strategies being presented to consumers, first and foremost is proper programming of automatic watering or sprinkler systems to deliver just the right amount of water at the right time.

Additional strategies include:

  • Proper landscaping, keeping soil healthy, mulching and routine landscape maintenance
  • Investing in an irrigation system that uses the best, most flexible, components, has “smart” controls, and meets code requirements
  • Watering during the evening and early morning to prevent evaporation, taking soil type and sprinkler placement into consideration
  • Maintaining the sprinkler system regularly by adjusting sprinkler heads, repairing leaks and monitoring pressure

WaterSense

According the the EPA’s WaterSense website, adopting water–savvy habits also is essential to maintaining and extending our communities’ water supplies, especially during peak use. WaterSense partners with manufacturers, retailers/distributors, and utilities to bring high-performing, water-efficient products to the marketplace.

WaterSense also partners with professional certifying organizations to promote water–efficient landscape irrigation practices. Since the program began in 2006, WaterSense has helped consumers save a total of 1.5 trillion gallons of water, resulting in more than $32.6 billion in water and energy bill savings.

Smart Ideas

Since July is the peak month for water consumption, the national Smart Irrigation campaign is also encouraging industrial firms and professionals to promote smart irrigation practices and technologies.   Here are just a few of the many  “Smart Ideas” to promote the national campaign that are listed on the Irrigation Association website:

  • Add the Smart Irrigation Month logo to your website, ads, customer presentations, field signs, invoices and more.
  • Submit a press release or letter to the editor of your local newspaper.
  • Ask employees to add the Smart Irrigation Month logo to their e-mail signature block.
  • Host a live demonstration of water-saving irrigation technologies, in the field or at your location.
  • Feature water-efficient products and services in displays, ads, promotions and product demos with the Smart Irrigation Month logo.
  • Use a banner, outside signage or counter sign to encourage customers to ask about smart irrigation.

smart irrigation month

  • Make smart irrigation the theme of sales calls.
  • Give awards to customers and/or business partners who promote water-efficient practices.
  • Volunteer to speak to a local homeowner association, garden club or civic group.
  • Distribute copies of the Smart Irrigation Month coloring book at a farmers market or county fair.
  • Ask your local radio station to play a public service announcement, promoting July as Smart Irrigation Month.

Remember…Every Drop Counts! What are YOU doing to promote Smart Irrigation Month? 


Sources:

Irrigation Association

EPA WaterSense

Incorporating Green Infrastructure into Irrigation Systems

As an irrigation specialist, if you’re not already on the “green infrastructure bandwagon,” what’s holding you back?

The green infrastructure (or GI) movement is growing in communities throughout the U.S.  In its position statement, the national Irrigation Association has officially recognized GI as “a promising new market” for irrigation contractors, manufacturers, and suppliers.

(To access the Irrigation Association’s 2014 webinar titled “Green Infrastructure: The Role of Irrigation in Stormwater Management,” Click Here.)

What Is It, and Why Is It Important?

In a nutshell, green infrastructure utilizes living plant material to create a more natural method for stormwater mitigation. GI tools include vegetated swales, rain gardens, porous concrete, green roofs and rain barrel installations.  (See related article, “Rainwater Harvesting: Rain, Rain, Don’t Go Away!“)

Why is this an important topic for irrigation and landscape professionals?

Well, for one thing, in our current era of heightened water quality concerns, new state and federal investments are being aimed specifically at green infrastructure.

“The opportunity here is to be a resource for water quality managers and sustainability professionals.” That’s according to Paul Lander (Ph.d, ASLA, LEED AP), a consultant with Dakota Ridge Partners in Boulder, Colo.

“In almost every city across the nation, they’re going to have a whole suite of things on their plates. If there’s an opportunity (for irrigation professionals) to be seen as a resource, the profession’s going to go a lot further, and we’ll get more resources coming our way to help with this green infrastructure movement.”

It’s All About Runoff

The big issue, of course is stormwater runoff. Particularly with combined sewer systems, where the stormwater pipes connect to the sewage pipes. Combined sewer systems are found in approximately 860 municipalities across the U.S.. These are mostly concentrated in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Great Lakes.

Not only is this a waste of stormwater, but the sewage treatment facilities are not designed to handle the large volume of water that occurs from a rain event. With as little as a 1/4 inch of rainwater, the combined systems will overflow the rainwater mixed with untreated sewerage into the local waterways.

You may recall when Ohio’s stormwater runoff issues became national news in 2014. That’s when the pollution in Lake Erie forced the City of Toledo to shut off its water supply. For three days.

Green infrastructure has been heralded as a more efficient and effective solution to these water pollution issues than traditional gray infrastructure.

For Municipalities and Neighborhoods

John  Farner, Government and Public Affairs Director for the Irrigation Association, recently explained that, at the municipal or county level, GI refers to the patchwork of natural areas that provide habitat, flood protection, cleaner air, and cleaner water for the community.  (See related article, “Can the Ohio River Be Saved?”)

With neighborhoods, on the other hand, GI refers to stormwater systems that mimic nature by soaking up and storing water. Many states and municipalities (such as Philadelphia) have adopted holistic approaches to watershed management that strongly feature green infrastructure. 

Unfortunately, landscape overwatering is commonplace, Lander said. And it’s the bane of water quality managers. These local, state and federal officials are tasked with ensuring compliance with regulations to minimize ill effects on water sources.

“Increasingly, nonpoint-source pollution, like irrigation runoff, is coming under scrutiny by these folks,” Lander said. Landscape and irrigation professionals who aren’t familiar with nonpoint-source pollution are behind the times, he added.

Opportunity Missed?

Not only that, but they’re missing out on a huge opportunity to partner with water quality managers in pursuit of GI projects.

“It’s all the little things around us that in aggregate can have a big impact,” Lander said. He believes the onus is on the professional irrigation community to step up and participate.

Why? “Sites need green infrastructure and green infrastructure will need smart irrigation,” he said.


Sources:

Irrigation Association

Irrigation Market Watch

NPR.org

Rainwater Harvesting: Rain, Rain, Don’t Go Away!

With April upon us, we are reminded that every year Mother Nature provides us with trillions of gallons of water. Free of charge. In the form of rain.

Last year, for instance, the storms which pummeled the Carolinas dropped enough water to halt California’s five-year drought. And yet, few of us take advantage of learning how to capture this precious resource.

Instead, it flows off lawns into streams, then rivers, then oceans.

A recent article in Irrigation & Green Industry magazine suggests that, when irrigation specialists build cisterns to harvest rainwater, they are providing their customers with “manna from heaven.”

But they’re also helping to build the water infrastructure of the future. And providing themselves with an additional revenue source.

New Revenue Stream

Paul Lawrence, president of Texas Land & Water Designs LLC, has been installing rainwater harvesting systems for the past seven years, and he’s a huge proponent of the practice. Lawrence feels that, not only is it a good source of revenue, but startup costs are low for the contractor.

“Licensed irrigators already have many of the skills that are required for rainwater harvesting; it’s a real natural fit for them,” he says.

And it’s not as complicated as it might seem. Virtually every house and commercial building already possesses roofing, gutters and downspouts. The catchment system simply takes the rainwater that now flows down the street and stores it for use at a later date.

The Basic Setup

There are several different options for storing rainwater: above-ground storage tanks, below-ground cisterns, or downspouts directed to bioswales. Smaller systems (such as those that capture less than a hundred gallons) can use rain barrels for storage.

Whatever option is chosen, a pump may be required to release the water when it’s ready to be used. Most pumps on residential systems are between one-third and one horsepower. That amount of power is sufficient to pressurize the water for either spray or drip irrigation. The pump can be activated manually, or a controller can be used to automate the rainwater flow into the irrigation system.

A couple of important considerations:

  • Sanitation should be the first consideration. At the very least, a screen should be placed in the gutter over the downspout. This will keep out large particulate matter, large solids and leaves.
  • Storage tanks must be properly sealed against pests and bacteria; otherwise, the water inside can become toxic.

  • Every storage tank needs to have an overflow device to prevent backup in heavy-rain situations.
  • The overflow device should be fitted with a flapper valve that will close up immediately after excess water has stopped flowing out. This will keep vermin from crawling up the spout.

An Attractive Option

For property owners who find traditional storage units unattractive, more aesthetically-pleasing options are available. For instance, Aquascape, an Illinois-based company, offers its “RainXchange” system, which combines a recirculating, decorative water feature with an underground storage basin.

According to Irrigation & Green Industry magazine, RainXchange offers the same functionality of other storage systems. Specifically, “It makes use of modular storage basins, stackable blocks that are somewhere between milk crates and Legos, which can be arranged in different shapes to fit a variety of application settings. They sit inside a rubber membrane to form a single, water-tight unit underground.”

Contractors can install the RainXchange system under turf grass. An increasingly common option is to install the system beneath a patio made of permeable pavers. According to Ed Beaulieu, director of field research for Aquascape, “This way, the pavers act as a catchment area that prefilters the rainwater before it enters the blocks. It’s very, very efficient.”

The following video demonstrates the installation of a similar underground system by a Texas-based vendor, Innovative Water Solutions:

 

Closer to home, Rain Brothers, a rainwater-harvesting company based in Columbus, offers system design services throughout Ohio and much of the Midwest.

A simple residential project typically runs between $1,500 and $5,000, depending on a variety of factors, such as size and excavation costs. For instance, if a client’s property doesn’t allow room for heavy equipment, digging by hand will increase the labor time substantially.

Who Are the Target Customers?

According to most irrigation contractors, conservation is the primary motivator when property owners consider installing a rainwater catchment system. Despite the fact that the installation costs them money, these clients are more worried about the long-term consequences of water shortages, pollution and soil erosion.

They may have heard that capturing rainwater is a tried-and-true method of simultaneously controlling runoff and withstanding drought conditions.

“In a residential setting, it’s next to impossible to show an ROI in three to five years,” Lawrence says. “By and large, those clients are doing it for environmental concerns.”

Add It to Your Menu of Services

Rainwater harvesting is a viable permanent addition to the menu of services offered by landscape professionals. As homeowners rediscover this ancient practice of capturing rainwater, contractors will have increasing opportunities to offer their services for installation projects.

Contractors can easily acquire the skills necessary to get started with catchment system installations. And there is an abundance of resources to ensure your success. The national Irrigation Association offers online classes on the subject, such as “Water Quality of Alternative Water Sources” and “Earning Points for Green Projects.”

In addition, the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association (ARCSA) hosts workshops across the country for those seeking to pass their accredited professional exam. The ARCSA also offers a Resource Guide of rain harvesting designers, educators and suppliers.

Once you’re up to speed on best practices, rainwater harvesting can become a highly profitable source of revenue for your company… and a valuable service for your customers.


Sources:

Irrigation & Green Industry Magazine

Irrigation Association

Innovative Water Solutions

American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association

How Do I Become a Certified Backflow Tester?

It’s the question most frequently asked by Ohio IA members: “How do I become a certified backflow tester?” 

But before we get into the details of the certification process, let’s explore the reasons behind the testing in the first place.

Why Is It Needed?

Irrigation system backflow devices help protect a home’s drinking water from contaminants such as lawn fertilizers and pesticides. The state of Ohio requires that these devices be tested on an annual basis. 

But this testing can only be done by individuals who have been certified by an approved testing school. This is a legal requirement. In Ohio, there are two such schools: APHC Backflow School and Ohio Contractor Training.

Backflow Disasters

In order to fully appreciate the importance of backflow testing, we need to see the consequences of backflow mishaps.

For instance, in December of last year, a backflow incident in Corpus Christi resulted in the city’s water being contaminated by an asphalt emulsifier known as Indulin AA-86. When a backflow valve in the city’s industrial district failed, about 24 gallons of the petroleum-based chemical were released into the city’s water supply.

Officials ordered a four-day tap water ban for the city’s 320,000 residents. Schools were closed. Several cases of illness were attributed to the tainted water. In the end, the cause of the crisis was eventually traced back to the city’s failure to enforce a testing requirement for its backflow devices.

Similar incidents occur more frequently on a much smaller scale. To view a list of 14 separate incidents compiled by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, click here.

State-approved certification for testers serves to keep these issues to a minimum.

Back to Certification…

There are several requirements which must be met prior to testing certification.

  1. First of all, you must have at least five years of experience working in the plumbing or water purveying industries.
  2. Then you must attend a three-day training course provided by one of Ohio’s approved testing schools. Here you will learn about extensive regulations enforced through the EPA, the Ohio plumbing code, and various municipalities. You’ll also learn how to dismantle and repair various types of backflow devices.
  3. At the end of the course, you must pass a practical exam.
  4. Finally, you need to apply to the Ohio Dept of Commerce for certification. If you meet the state’s requirements (e.g., you have a clean legal background), then you must take the state test. Once you pass the state test, you’ll receive your backflow testing certification card.

The following video clip from Sean Mullarky, owner of TriState Water Workssummarizes the certification process: 

 

Once you’ve met all the requirements and received you certification, you may then test backflows for irrigation systems.

But wait!  Every three years, state law mandates that you must be re-certified. This requires an additional one day of training and yet another practical exam.

The Benefits – More Work

Certified backflow testers are in high demand. Because Ohio law requires that irrigation systems be tested annually, potential customers will be seeking you out for this service.

We can help promote your testing services. Once certified, your name will be placed on the Ohio IA’s list of Certified Backflow Testers. This list is the second most trafficked page on our website, so it’s sure to generate new business for your company.

Get Started

If you’re ready to begin the certification process, contact APHC Backflow School or Ohio Contractor Training to get started.


Sources:

Ohio Codes 

TriState Water Works

Offgridsurvival.com

It’s Spring Sprinkler Tune-Up Time!

As spring temperatures begin to warm the earth, it’s time to prepare your landscape irrigation system for another season of watering.

Although it’s always best to hire a qualified professional contractor when performing tasks like spring start-up, if you’re an experienced do-it-yourselfer, you’ll want to follow these tips:

Timing Is Everything

First and foremost, you need to make sure spring has indeed sprung. Since the soil beneath your landscaping is always the last to thaw, use a shovel to confirm that the ground is frost-free 12 inches down. Starting your sprinkler system while the ground is still frozen can result in damage to the pipes. If it’s still hard as a rock, wait another week and try again.

Then check the settings on your sprinkler to make sure they are appropriate for your landscape’s watering needs, and replace the back-up battery in the timer/controller, if necessary.

Go with the Flow

Before turning on any water to the system, double-check that all manual drain valves are returned to the “closed” position.  When you first turn the water back on, be sure to open the system main water valve SLOWLY to allow pipes to fill with water gradually. Failure to do so can result in a high-pressure surge called “water hammer,” resulting in burst pipes and damaged valves.

Ensure that the sprinkler flow is unobstructed by checking for rocks, dirt, sand and other types of debris that could block your sprinkler heads. Keep an eye out for spray heads that may have become buried, allowing debris to accumulate around them during the winter.

Also, bear in mind that nozzles and sprinkler heads are designed to withstand normal wear and tear of irrigation, but not errant lawn mowers or snowplows. It’s important to replace all cracked, chipped or worn components.  A broken or leaky sprinkler can wreak havoc on both your landscaping and water bills.

Valves and Pressure Gauges

The valves in your irrigation system regulate the distribution of water throughout; they are its heart. Which is why you need to visually inspect each valve to determine that it’s operating properly. Verify the proper operation of each station valve by manually activating all zones from the controller.

It’s also important to make sure the water pressure is at a safe operating range.  A system with too much pressure will result in cracked pipes, busted valves, sprinkler head leaks and inefficient watering.

To this end, you may wish to invest in a water pressure gauge that can be used to measure water pressure in your home and yard. These devices typically connect to a hose faucet and give you a good idea of the pressure in your irrigation system. (Suggested operating range is typically 40 -65 PSI.) Hint: If water is “misting” out of your sprinkler heads, your pressure is too high and should be reduced.

Think It’ll Rain? 

Most modern irrigation systems are equipped with a rain sensor. This device should also be checked prior to activating your system in the spring. Here’s how:

  1. First, consult the systems operator’s manual to determine the proper setting for testing your unit. (For example, some systems must be set to the “manual all stations” setting to test them. If that is the case with your system, you cannot test it on the “manual single station” setting.)
  2. After properly setting the irrigation system control, check the system to make sure it came on. (You may need a helper to assist you.)
  3. Once you have confirmed that the sprinkler is running, depress the plunger located on the top of the rain sensor.  The sprinkler system should stop irrigating within a few seconds. 
  4. If watering does not stop when you depress the plunger, you’ll have to troubleshoot the system. Confirm that all wiring connections on the sensor and on the sprinkler control unit are tight. Check to make certain that the jumper tab, also called a jumper wire, was removed when the rain sensor was hooked up to the control panel.

Also be aware that the disk inside a rain sensor can become clogged with dirt or insects, which can keep it from functioning properly. Consult your operator’s manual for the correct procedure to clean the disk.

A Word about Backflow

A backflow device has been installed on your irrigation system in accordance with Ohio state law. This device prevents a cross-connection from occurring between the drinkable and undrinkable water in your home.

Spring is a good time to have your backflow preventer tested, as annual testing of the device is required in the state of Ohio. This testing can only be done by individuals who have been certified by an approved testing school. Backflow testers must have at least 24 hours of training in the classroom and hands-on test lab.

To locate a certified backflow tester in your area, Click Here.

Leave It to the Pros

Again, it’s best to leave all spring start-up tasks to the professionals. A qualified service technician will go through your irrigation system zone by zone and check every irrigation spray pattern for optimum turf and plant coverage, as well as check each sprinkler head and valve for any leaks. He can also test and clean your rain or weather sensor to ensure top performance.

Lastly, the technician will program the controller for the proper irrigation schedule, based on your landscape and weather conditions, as well as neighborhood watering restrictions.


Sources:

Hunterindustries.com

Rainbird.com

Homeguides.sfgate.com

Online Seminars from 2016 Irrigation Show Now Available

Enhance Your Knowledge of Efficient Irrigation and Water Management

If you weren’t able to take advantage of the 2016 Irrigation Show’s numerous educational opportunities, you’re in luck! All of the landscape irrigation seminars from this year’s show are now available for purchase at the Irrigation Association online store.

These one-hour online seminars address the underlying how-to’s of efficient irrigation and water management. All five seminars cost $28 each for members and $38 for nonmembers. Each seminar is worth one continuing education unit. 

These courses run interactively in the IA’s learning management system and are not downloadable. (Please note that you may receive continuing education units only once per certification renewal period for these seminars.)

To access all seminars available through IA’s online store, Click Here.

Seminars from the 2016 Irrigation Show and Education Conference include the following:

Auditing: Soil Moisture vs. Catch Cans

Catch-can audits measure sprinkler performance, while portable soil moisture sensors measure the effectiveness of the irrigation. Both methods are valid, as they both help correlate sprinkler performance with soil moisture uniformity. Uniformity affects irrigation scheduling and, ultimately, the appearance of the turfgrass, as evidenced below:

This seminar is presented by Brian Vinchesi, CIC, CID, CGIA, CLIA, CLIM, CLWM.

Click Here to purchase.

Earning Points for Green Projects

A common goal of most green programs is to reduce or eliminate the use of potable water in landscape irrigation. This seminar looks at various volunteer green programs, such as LEED, Sustainable Sites and Green Globes. It also considers the prerequisites, and explains how points are awarded for irrigation systems and the use of alternative water sources.

This seminar is presented by Doug Macdonald, CLIA.

Click Here to purchase.

Evapotranspiration and Irrigation Management

ET information is often used to provide a reference for determining the amount of water applied to plants. This presentation looks at:

  1. The location of weather stations compared to the site being managed,
  2. How ET is calculated, and
  3. What to consider when modifying the reference ET to estimate water requirements for different types of plants.

This seminar is presented by Brent Mecham, CID, CLWM, CLIA, CAIS, CIC, CGIA.

Click Here to purchase.

Measuring Landscape Water Use

Based on numerous residential and commercial audits, this seminar presents findings on the amount of water used in the landscape compared to estimated water demand. It also includes a look at both irrigation performance and landscape composition, with emphasis on how irrigation efficiency can be improved.  

This seminar is presented by Kelly Kopp, PhD. 

Click Here to purchase.

Water Quality of Alternative Water Sources

Not all sources of water are fit for plants. This seminar will addresses water quality issues with various alternative water sources. It explains how to determine if water is treatable or unfit for irrigation landscaping purposes. The course provides valuable information when considering the use of on-site alternative water sources for irrigation systems.

Click Here to purchase.

Additional information about these seminars and other seminar topics  is available on the Irrigation Association website


Source:

Irrigation Association

Don’t Miss Ohio Green Industry Advocacy Day – February 22, 2017!

ohio-statehouse

With approximately 30 new legislators being sworn in to the 132nd Ohio General Assembly and a new leadership slate in the Ohio House, participation in the 2017 Ohio Green Industry Advocacy Day is more important than ever. Join your green industry colleagues on February 22 to impact legislation affecting green industries and carry the message of “who we are” to our state legislators.

Benefit of Membership

As one of the sponsors of this year’s Green Industry Advocacy Day, your Ohio Irrigation Association is counting on you. Legislative and regulatory advocacy is one of the key benefits of OIA membership. By becoming an active participant in legislative events, you strengthen this critical membership benefit. Advocacy Day is your chance to build relationships with two important groups:  Green industry business partners, and members of the Ohio legislature and their staff. And who can tell our story better than you?

In addition to the OIA, participating organizations will include:download

    • The Ohio Nursery & Landscape Association
    • Nursery Growers of Lake County Ohio
    • Ohio Landscape Association
    • Ohio Lawn Care Association
    • Ohio Pest Management Association
    • Ohio Professional Applicators for Responsible Regulation
    • Ohio Turfgrass Foundation

Issues at Hand

advocacyThe biennial operating budget bill will be “in play” in the Ohio House, which makes Advocacy Day the perfect time to affect change in this important legislation. In addition, issues like water quality and quantity, immigration, workers compensation and/or environmental reforms will be discussed. You can be a resource to policy makers on these key issues, helping them to make informed decisions.  They want to hear from you, and YOU have the knowledge that can help advance decisions that are favorable to our industry.

What to Expect

The morning session will feature key legislative speakers like ONLA Legislator of the Year Sen. Bob Peterson (R- Sabina); Craig Butler, Director of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency; and others.  There will also be a briefing session where you will learn about specific bills and issues, and how best to communicate with your state legislators. Legislative meetings are then scheduled for the afternoon.

We’re Counting on YOU!

For more  information and to register for the event…
Eventbrite - Ohio Green Industry Advocacy Day

Or order below:

Don’t miss out on this important opportunity to partner with fellow green industry colleagues and to explain critical industry issues to our state legislators!

 


Source:

Ohio Nursery & Landscape Association

Join Us at the 2016 Irrigation Show in Las Vegas!

A11504_1_full

Show Is Set for December 7-8, Education Conference for December 5-9

logoIrrigation Show 2016 is the only national trade show designed specifically for irrigation industry professionals. This year the national Irrigation Association is co-locating with the National Ground Water Association (NGWA), providing the opportunity to visit more than 600 exhibitors.

Nearly 5,000 distributors, dealers, contractors, consultants and growers are expected to attend. You’ll have the opportunity to:

  • Check out innovative products, technologies and services.show2
  • Explore new suppliers.
  • Learn about the latest business trends and irrigation best practices.
  • Network with current business partners and with industry leaders who share the Ohio Irrigation Association’s commitment to efficient irrigation.

For exhibitor information, including booth space fees, assignment, and 2016 floor plan, click here.

As an exhibitor, you also have an opportunity to promote your company and products before the show to all pre-registered attendees.  An Irrigation Association mailing/email list of pre- and post-show attendees is available to all exhibitors at no charge. You can email Shannon Pluta to request the list.

Educational Opportunities

As an irrigation professional, you also may wish to take advantage of the many classes and seminars offered at Irrigation Show 2016.  You’ll learn concepts and practical skills you can implement immediately.

244IrrigationShow2015LongBeach_boxScheduled classes offer:

  • Real-world applications and irrigation case studies.
  • Current techniques, field-tested information and best practices.
  • Instructors with industry expertise and proven teaching experience.

One-hour seminars will provide detailed coverage on a focused topic in landscape irrigation. Seminars are open to all attendees with a full registration. Participants will earn 1.00 CEU for each hour. This year’s topics will include:

  • Auditing: Soil Moisture vs. Catch Cans
  • Measuring Landscape Water Use
  • Earning Points for Green Projects
  • Water Quality of Alternate Water Sources
  • ET & Irrigation Management

For a list of irrigation education classes, click here.  For a list of irrigation seminars, click here.

And back by popular demand:  The Drought Summit!  This event is free to all attendees and exhibitors.

2015 Show Was a Huge Success

Here’s what last year’s exhibitors said:145IrrigationShow2015LongBeach_box

  • 81% reached new qualified customers
  • 87% improved relationships with current customers
  • 85% increased their company’s visibility in the industry

Also, according to a follow-up survey of the 2015 Irrigation Show, within 12 months of the show:

  • 77% of the attendees purchased a product or service as a result of contacts made at the show
  • 90% of the attendees contacted exhibitors met at the show.
  • 90% of the attendees visited exhibitor websites based on information from the show.

The Premier Irrigation Industry Event

las-vegas-convention-centerThis is the premier event to enhance your industry knowledge, network with peers and visit hundreds of exhibitors who can provide you with new solutions for your on-the-job needs.

Explore the show floor exhibits, attend irrigation seminars or learn about the latest irrigation research at the technical sessions offered. Or stay for the entire week, and take advantage of all of the professional development offerings at the Education Conference, slated for December 5-9.

For registration and additional information, click here.

Pack your bags…We’re goin’ to Vegas!


Source:

Irrigation Association, http://www.irrigation.org/irrigationshow/

Every Drop Counts…July Is Smart Irrigation Month

water

It’s that time of year again…July is Smart Irrigation Month and, as usual, there are many ways  for businesses and consumers to participate in the campaign.

First launched in 2005, Smart Irrigation Month continues to gain traction each year as consumers and irrigation specialists alike recognize the positive impact efficient irrigation and water use provides to all of us.

Give this a try!

Place a few empty tuna cans around your lawn while you’re watering and measure how long it takes your sprinkler to fill them with a half inch of water. Then, try watering that amount of time twice a week, gauge how your landscape responds, and adjust based on weather conditions. Or simplify by replacing your standard clock timer controller with a WaterSense labeled irrigation controller.

Smart Systems

Among the strategies being presented to consumers, first and foremost is proper programming of automatic watering or sprinkler systems to deliver just the right amount of water at the right time. Additional strategies include:

  • smartProper landscaping, keeping soil healthy, mulching and routine landscape maintenance
  • Investing in an irrigation system that uses the best, most flexible, components, has “smart” controls, and meets code requirements
  • Watering during the evening and early morning to prevent evaporation, taking soil type and sprinkler placement into consideration
  • Maintaining the sprinkler system regularly by adjusting sprinkler heads, repairing leaks and monitoring pressure

WaterSense

According the the EPA’s WaterSense website, adopting water–savvy habits also is essential to maintaining and extending our communities’ water supplies, especially during peak use. WaterSense partners with manufacturers, retailers/distributors, and utilities to bring high-performing, water-efficient products to the marketplace. WaterSense also partners with professional certifying organizations to promote water–efficient landscape irrigation practices. Since the program began in 2006, WaterSense has helped consumers save a total of 1.5 trillion gallons of water, resulting in more than $32.6 billion in water and energy bill savings.

Smart Ideas

Since July is the peak month for water consumption, the national Smart Irrigation campaign is encouraging industrial firms and professionals to promote smart irrigation practices and technologies, as well.   Here are some of the many  “Smart Ideas” to promote the national campaign that are listed on the Irrigation Association website:

  • SIM_LogoAdd the Smart Irrigation Month logo to your web site, ads, customer presentations, field signs, invoices and more.
  • Submit a press release or letter to the editor of your local newspaper.
  • Ask employees to add the Smart Irrigation Month logo to their e-mail signature block.
  • Hand out Smart Irrigation Month bumper stickers at your next contractor meeting.
  • Host a live demonstration of water-saving irrigation technologies, in the field or at your location.
  • Feature water-efficient products and services in displays, ads, promotions and product demos with the Smart Irrigation Month logo.
  • Use a banner, outside signage or counter sign to encourage customers to ask about how smart irrigation can save water and money.
  • Smart Irrigation Controller RebateMake smart irrigation the theme of sales calls.
  • Stick a Smart Irrigation Month label on every box that goes out the door.
  • Give awards to customers and/or business partners who promote water-efficient practices.
  • Volunteer to speak to a local homeowner association, garden club or civic group.
  • Distribute copies of the Smart Irrigation Month coloring book at a farmers market or county fair.
  • Ask your local radio station to play a public service announcement, promoting July as Smart Irrigation Month.

What are YOU doing to promote Smart Irrigation Month?  Remember…Every Drop Counts!


Sources:

Irrigation Association, http://www.irrigation.org/Resources/SmartIrrigationMonth/SmartIdeas.aspx

EPA WaterSense,  https://www3.epa.gov/watersense/pubs/efficient.html

 

 

Ohio Irrigation Association Annual Meeting at the CENTS Show – Monday January 11

You are Invited to the Ohio Irrigation Association’s Annual Meeting

CENTS Show 2016 Annual Meeting LogoThe meeting, held in conjunction with the CENTS Show, will be followed by a FREE Reception at Barley’s Brew House.

Ohio Irrigation Association Annual Meeting

When: Monday, January 11th

Time: 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm
(reception following at Barley’s Brew House)

Where: The Greater Columbus Convention Center

Reception – Free Beer, Wine, and Food

Join Ohio Irrigation Contractors

Draft Beer

When: Monday, January 11th

Time: 6:30 pm to whenever

Door Prizes Courtesy Hunter , Rain Bird & Toro)

Where:

Barley’s Brew House

467 North High Street

Columbus, Ohio

(Across the street from the Convention Center)

Don’t miss out of the best party of the year. Mingle with old friends, vendors, and manufacturer’s representatives. Hunter, Rain Bird, and Toro personnel will be there as well as the Board of Directors for the Ohio Irrigation Association.

Find out how others fared through 2013. Learn about new products and old tricks. We will have companies from all over the state of Ohio.

Get the latest news and views from experts.

EPA WaterSense® – Friend or Foe

WaterSense® – Is it Working?

As reported by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), “America’s consumption of the public water supply continues to increase.” Our use of water can be improved, and in many cases, at little or no cost. Water efficiency can be effectively achieved through education and the implementation of conservation strategies such as the use of non-potable water in the landscape.

The Need for the WaterSense Program

EPA WaterSens LogoCommercial and residential outdoor water use in the United States accounts for more than 7 billion gallons of water each day, mainly for landscape irrigation. As much as half of that is lost or wasted due to evaporation, wind, or improper irrigation design, installation, and lack of consistent maintenance.[1]

From all of the controversy centering on landscapes being a waste of water and natural resources, the EPA developed the WaterSense program to foster water conservation and the efficient use of water both indoors and out.

The program is designed to help protect the future of our nation’s water supply by promoting water efficiency and enhancing the market for water-efficient products, programs, and practices.[2]

Jeff Carowitz, an long-time industry veteran, is hopeful that the EPA’s WaterSense Program will enjoy the same success as the ENERGY STAR® Program

User Feedback on the WaterSense Program

The EPA’s WaterSense program has the potential to have a profound effect on the landscape irrigation industry.

 John Newlin, Quality Sprinkler Services, Likes the Program

John Newlin, owner of Quality Services, an irrigation contractor in Cleveland, Ohio shared his thoughts:

John Newlin, Secretary, Ohio Irrigation Association

“I like the program. The EPA has been very professional with their marketing materials. This helps me promote my business. The information and marketing materials provided by the WaterSense program are excellent. The best part is that it does not cost me anything.”

Newlin says the EPA is doing an excellent job of developing consumer awareness toward water conservation. WaterSense is helping to modify behavior without resorting to restrictive legislation.

“I am not sure I liked it when the EPA opened the door for irrigation certification to companies like Rain Bird and other associations. I think the Irrigation Association should be certifying irrigation contractors, but I like the certification requirement.”

Overall, Newlin likes the EPA’s WaterSense program. Newlin says, “By continuing to raise the standards for performance in the landscape irrigation industry, it will make the industry stronger.”

 

Kurt Thompson, Training & Technical Director – Irrigation for Massey Services in Florida sees both positive and negative effects of the EPA WaterSense program.

Kurt Thompson“I like the product labeling program and the professional certification program. The WaterSense program can provide good pull-through for manufacturers’ products. The certification standard helps to raise the level of professionalism in the landscape irrigation industry.”

Thompson dislikes the ‘one-size-fits all’ component of the WaterSense home program. “The data provided by the EPA does not allow for the differences in climate across the country,” says Thompson, “Because the data is based upon a fixed climatic condition, it cannot be an effective tool where those conditions are not typical. On the West coast it will do a great job. However, on the East coast it will not work as effectively.”

“I would like to see some provisions for irrigation system maintenance,” continues Thompson. “I see too many irrigation systems that have not been looked at since installation. The state of disrepair in these systems is disheartening. It is so easy to save water with a little bit of attention.”

Overall, Thompson says, “The beauty of EPA’s WaterSense program is that it is encouraging more people to be properly trained in correct irrigation practices.”

Brain Vinchesi, Owner of Irrigation Consulting, is a Proponent

Brian Vinchesi, consultant and owner of Irrigation Consulting, Inc. and winner of the EPA’s WaterSense Partner of the Year – 2009, is a proponent of the WaterSense program.

Brian VinchesiHe spends much of his time advocating for water conservation and promoting water efficiency throughout the industry. Vinchesi shares, “The public relations effort by the EPA’s WaterSense program is excellent for the industry. Generally speaking, the EPA’s attempt to look at water savings like energy savings is great.”

Vinchesi has reservations with the water budget inaccuracies in the technical data. Evapotranspiration in July is the basis for the water budget. There are wide variations in evapotranspiration rates across the country. July is not always the peak water-use month. The water budget gives too much water to drier areas of the country and not enough water to wetter areas of the country. In wetter areas, using July as the driest month will not save as much water. In wetter climates, more water savings could be achieved in other months. Additionally, in other parts of the country, Arizona for example, July is not the month with the highest level of evapotranspiration.

Vinchesi feels the WaterSense label campaign for products is working well. However, he feels that the WaterSense labeling for new homes is a little too prescriptive and the science behind some of the assumptions is lacking.

Vinchesi’s biggest concern for the future of the WaterSense program is that the limitation on funding has kept the EPA from doing more. “Overall,” Vinchesi says, “everyone at the EPA works very hard. The awards program is good and has been expanded. The EPA has done an excellent job.”

“The irrigation industry needs to see more products with the WaterSense label. The plumbing industry has more experience in working with government agencies and is more adept at consensus-based decisions. The irrigation industry is slowly learning how to work with this style of decision making.”

Vinchesi believes that in the future, the WaterSense program will need additional funding. “It is taking too long to get things done. The EPA is on-track with product labeling, but there needs to be better research and science behind the water budget and WaterSense labeling for new home construction. Commercial and institutional standards need to be developed.”

Tim Malooly – 2008 WaterSense Irrigation Partner of the Year

Tim Malooly, President of Water in Motion and 2008 WaterSense Irrigation Partner of the Tim MaloolyYear, has been involved with the EPA’s WaterSense program since its inception in 2005. He likes the program’s goal of achieving a 20% water savings without adversely affecting the lifestyle of consumers.

He feels that the premise of developing consumer awareness of our water resources through a strong educational effort is great. “It’s all about affecting behavior,” says Malooly, “There is a great deal of work to do in building consumer awareness. The consumer can have a huge impact on saving water by understanding the difference between a properly designed and installed irrigation system and a poorly installed irrigation system. Additionally, the consumer can save even more water by interacting and adjusting their irrigation controller on a regular basis.”

Malooly’s concern lies in the tendency of concentrating the agency’s efforts on developing a standard for a technological device like weather-based controllers that will reduce water usage when educating consumers can have a far greater impact.

“Picking SMART controller as the initial product for the first WaterSense labeled irrigation device was probably a mistake,” says Malooly, “There are other, more conventional devices, like rain sensors and spray heads with built-in pressure regulators, that could have been WaterSense labeled faster because of a wider level of acceptance within the landscape irrigation industry.”

Malooly is concerned that the WaterSense New Home Specification has some flaws. Developing a specification that is easily administered across the country is difficult. Malooly adds, “The water budget tool is workable but needs some refinement. There are regional differences that are vital to consider.”

“In the future, realizing that this is a living document and the specifications are subject to change is important. All of us in the landscape irrigation industry can play an important part in the development of this program,” says Malooly.

The EPA’s opinions carry a lot of weight in conservation organizations. Working with the landscape irrigation industry is important as the EPA moves forward in increasing consumer awareness of water conservation. “Hopefully, the International Code Council will assist in developing a standard for the irrigation industry,” concludes Malooly.

Judy Benson – 2010 WaterSense Irrigation Partner of the Year

Judy Benson EPA Award

Judy Benson, left, receiving the 2010 U.S. EPA WaterSense
Partner of the Year Award

 

Judy Benson, owner of Clear Water Products & Services and 2010 WaterSense Irrigation Partner of the Year likes the EPA’s WaterSense program. “The EPA WaterSense program is on the right track,” says Benson, “Although there is some room for improvement, this program raises the bar by requiring certification for performance standards. This helps to professionalize the industry. We need more contractors to get on-board with the program.”

While the WaterSense product labeling is a good idea, its implementation has been too slow for the irrigation industry. Benson would like to see more outdoor products with the WaterSense label, and adds, “The WaterSense New Home Specification needs some adjustment.”

Benson would also like to see a recertification program for older properties. “Too many irrigations systems are installed here in Florida and not looked at afterwards,” says Benson, “All irrigation systems require attention and maintenance to perform properly.”

“Overall, the EPA WaterSense program is on the right path. The program is more suggestive than prescriptive,” says Benson, “and that is a good thing.”

Jeff Carowitz, owner of Strategic Force Marketing, thinks the EPA’s WaterSense program is a good program. He sees a lot of changes facing the irrigation industry today, and believes the EPA’s WaterSense program raises consumer awareness. Carowitz exclaims, “In building business, it is up to the contractor to effectively use the program.”

Carowitz is hopeful that the EPA’s WaterSense program will enjoy the same success as the EPA’s ENERGY STAR program. The ENERGY STAR program, by creating a standard for energy efficiency, has helped create demand for energy efficient products. This helps consumers make more informed decisions on their purchases. Carowitz believes that the EPA’s WaterSense program can assist manufacturers, suppliers, and contractors in positively promoting water efficiency to consumers.

The U.S. EPA WaterSense Program is on the Right Track

From the interviews conducted for the landscape irrigation industry, the EPA is on the right track with the WaterSense program. Those familiar with the program appreciate the program’s ability to educate the public about water conservation and water efficiency. Concerns point to the program’s ability to create products and procedures usable in variable locations and climates, both nationally and internationally.

The EPA exerts considerable influence with the American consumer and throughout the world. With that said, the program’s product labeling campaign helps manufacturers increase product sales and gives consumers more information about a product’s water saving ability.

Most agree that water is a precious and vital resource; water conservation is readily accepted as something both consumers and industry professional must address. Creating programs that educate, standardize, and work effectively are no longer optional. The best solutions are often those that are created from a shared responsibility for a positive and effective outcome.


 

[1] http://www.epa.gov/WaterSense/pubs/cert_programs.html

[2] http://www.epa.gov/WaterSense/about_us/why_watersense.html

What is WaterSense®?

What is U.S. EPA WaterSense®?

EPA WaterSens LogoLaunched in June of 2006, the EPA’s WaterSense program created a goal to educate the public and consumers in the importance of water conservation. During the 2006 American Water Works Association’s Annual Conference and Exposition in San Antonio, Texas, EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson informed, “Commercial and residential outdoor water use in the United States accounts for more than seven billion gallons of water each day, mainly for landscape irrigation.” The EPA estimates over three and a half billion gallons of water are wasted every day from inefficient and ineffective landscape irrigation practices. More than fifty percent of irrigation water used in residential and commercial irrigation systems is wasted.

The EPA’s WaterSense Program is a program designed to promote water conservation and the efficient use of water through education, not regulation. There are four primary features of the program.

Consumer Education

WaterSense is working towards protecting our nation’s water supply by educating consumers and businesses in water efficient practices, programs, and products.

FixALeakWeekThe Fix a Leak Week campaign, held annually in March, is one of the ways WaterSense is bringing water conservation awareness to the public. The EPA reports that the average American home leaks over 10,000 gallons of water each year. Nationally, this represents over 1 trillion gallons of water lost.

We’re for Water” campaign was launched to encourage consumers to make simple changes to save water. The cornerstone of the campaign is a series of print public service announcements featuring Flo, the WaterSense spokesgallon. The public outreach campaign traveled the country passing out 500 WaterSense labeled aerator faucets in order to raise awareness about how easy water conservation can be at home.

We're for WaterAs part of the “We’re for Water” campaign, the “I’m for Water” program asks individuals to take a pledge and commit to checking off one or more simple tasks each month to save precious water resources. The program provides tips on how to use less water and spend less on utility bills.

Professional Certification Programs

EPA Watersense Product LogoIrrigation professionals can earn a WaterSense labeled certification by demonstrating expertise in water-efficient irrigation technology and techniques. The specifications cover three areas: irrigation system design, installation and maintenance, and system auditing.

Irrigation professionals can distinguish themselves from competitors through certification and a documented commitment to the program of water efficiency. Certified irrigation professionals are listed in WaterSense’s Directory of Certified Professionals, making it easy for consumers and businesses to find local irrigation experts.

The Irrigation Association’s certification program was the first certifying partner to be approved by the EPA. The following is a list of professional certification programs that have earned the WaterSense label[1].

Irrigation System Design

§  Certified Irrigation Designer (CID) (landscape/turf specialties only) – Offered by the Irrigation Association, available nationwide.

§ Irrigation System Installation and Maintenance

§  Certified Irrigation Contractor (CIC) – Offered by the Irrigation Association, available nationwide.

Irrigation System Audits

§  Certified Golf Irrigation Auditor (CGIA) – Offered by the Irrigation Association, nationwide.

§  Certified Landscape Irrigation Auditor (CLIA) – Offered by the Irrigation Association, available nationwide.

§  Certified Water Management Program – Offered by the California Landscape Contractors Association, available in California.

§  Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper (QWEL) – Offered by the Sonoma–Marin Saving Water Partnership, available in California, Utah, New Mexico, Florida, Wyoming. Available for adoption nationwide.

§  Texas Certified Landscape Irrigation Auditor Program (TxCLIA) – Offered by Texas A&M AgrilLife Extension Service, Texas A&M School of Irrigation, available in Texas.

§  Watershed Wise Landscape Professional (WWLP) – Offered by G3LA, LLC, available in California and west of the Rocky Mountains.

Product Labeling

Products that carry the WaterSense label generally demonstrate a 20% water savings over conventional products. WaterSense labeled products are tested by independent, third party testing and certification agencies. The certification process is rigorous, assuring consumers that a WaterSense labeled product will deliver exceptional performance and water savings.

WaterSense has issued final product specifications and technical clarifications for the following product categories[2]:

WaterSense New Home GraphicNew Home Specification

The WaterSense New Home Specification is designed to reduce residential water use, both indoors and outdoors, when compared to a conventional new home. The program focuses on hot water, as well as water use in the bathroom, kitchen, and landscaping.

American homes average 75 gallons of water use per person per day. The EPA claims that compared to an existing home, a WaterSense labeled home could save more than $200 per year on water and energy bills. The WaterSense New Home Specification works well with other green building programs like ENERGY STAR, LEED®, and the National Green Building Standard.

The water we use everyday is vital and limited. We as an industry have both an opportunity and a responsibility to increase our water conservation efforts. The EPA’s WaterSense program has proven we can increase water efficiency and develop practices that help preserve this precious resource. To find out more about the benefits of a WaterSense labeled home and the latest in program news, read the WaterSense Blueprint, a quarterly update dedicated to news and events related to WaterSense labeled new homes.



[1] http://www3.epa.gov/watersense/outdoor/cert_programs.html

[2] http://www3.epa.gov/watersense/partners/product_program_specs.html

 

John Newlin Recognized as the ONLA Legislative Advocate of the Year

Respected Green Industry Professional, John Newlin of Quality Sprinkler Services, Receives Award: 2015 ONLA Legislative Advocate of the Year

John Newlin, Secretary, Ohio Irrigation Association

John Newlin, ONLA Legislative Advocate of the Year

January 20, 2015 — Westerville, Ohio — It is with great pleasure that the Ohio Nursery & Landscape Association (ONLA) announces the 2015 Legislative Advocate of the Year recipient, John Newlin.

The Legislative Advocate of the Year Award, previously known as the Grassroots Volunteer Award, is presented annually to a deserving individual in the green industry who has shown outstanding leadership in legislative affairs.

The 2015 ONLA Legislative Advocate of the Year was born in Dayton, Ohio, and grew up in multiple states across the United States. John attended The Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute in 1975 and attended the Agriculture Short Course at Purdue in 1976. He worked on his family farm for 5 years and attended Ohio Diesel Technical Institute. He was hired by Dow Chemical and worked in Texas oil fields from 1981 -1986. He was an International Carrier Supervisor from 1987-1998.

In 1991 he started his Irrigation Business, Quality Services, in North Ridgeville, Ohio. He and his wife Elaine have been married 15 years.

Healthy Water Ohio LogoThis industry advocate serves on the ONLA Legislative Committee, where he has represented ONLA on Underground Utilities Protection legislation; represented ONLA on the Healthy Water Ohio steering committee spearheaded by the Ohio Farm Bureau; and has taken the lead to establish July as Smart Irrigation Month in Ohio. He attends the ONLA Green Industry Advocacy Day, and PLANET’s Day on the Hill and Arlington Cemetery Project in Washington DC.

Nationally, this individual is on the Irrigation Association’s Board of Directors, is the Vice Chair of the IA’s Government Affairs Committee, and is Past Chair of the IA’s Contractor Common Interest Group. John has achieved the Certified Irrigation Contractor, Certified Irrigation Technician and Certified Landscape Irrigation Auditor certifications.

The ONLA’s annual convention, the Central Environmental Nursery Trade Show (CENTS), is scheduled January 13-15, 2016, at the Greater Columbus Convention Center and Hyatt Regency Hotel, Columbus. The trade show is open to persons in the nursery and landscape industry.

About ONLA

Ohio Nursery and Landscape Association (ONLA) LogoThe Ohio Nursery and Landscape Association (ONLA) leads, promotes and facilitates the success and growth of green industry businesses. ONLA is a non-profit trade association, incorporated in the State of Ohio, representing the interests of the state’s nursery, garden center and landscape industry. Membership is comprised of nursery stock growers, landscape contractors and maintenance firms, garden centers, arborists and allied suppliers. With over 1,300 members, ONLA seeks to enhance the environment and quality of life for all.

Irrigation Training at the 2015 CENTS Show

Diving into Irrigation Installation

 Scott Knowles, The Wolf Creek Company

Scott Knowles, Wolf Creek Company

Tuesday, January 6 from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Location:
Ahlum & Arbor Tree Preservation
1740 Walcutt Road
Columbus, OH 43228

This intensive day-long workshop will provide classroom discussion combined with hands-on exercises so participants gain live experience on the process, steps and basic skills needed to complete the successful installation of a landscape irrigation system.

Participants will get to see and learn from real-time demonstrations of: solvent welding PVC pipe and fittings, the process for making proper threaded connections, joining poly pipe, building valve manifolds, attaching sprinklers, making good wire connections, wiring controllers, and basic controller programming.

We’ll stop just short of digging, so you’ll gain an understanding of the full range of installation skills, tips and best practice techniques from onsite preparation to the end goal of flowing water.

(Sponsored by Ahlum & Arbor Tree Preservation)

Register with the Ohio Nursery and Landscape Association

 

Irrigation Service Technicians:
Training Intensive & Test Preparation

John Newlin Portrait
 John Newlin, Quality Services

John Newlin, Quality Services

Thursday, January 8. Part 1 from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm. Part 2 from 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm

Location: The Greater Columbus Convention Center

This intensive two part training prepares technicians to: install, test, troubleshoot, diagnose, service and repair commercial and residential systems and provides a review of the components of the Irrigation Association’s Certified Irrigation Technician exam.

You’ll learn how-to review the plan, allocate equipment & material for the jobsite preparation, and review best practices for site preparation that include: locating utilities, flagging the job, checking water pressure and testing existing components.

The instruction includes training on pipe gluing, head installation, diagnostics and troubleshooting of electrical and water elements.

John will review OSHA requirements and safety processes that should be implemented to support the team with preparation, equipment maintenance and on the jobsite.

Register with the Ohio Nursery and Landscape Association

Ohio Irrigation Association Annual Meeting at the CENTS Show – Wednesday January 7th

Calling All Irrigation Contractors

You are Invited to the Ohio Irrigation Association’s Annual Meeting

2015 CENTS LogoThe meeting, held in conjunction with the CENTS Show, will be followed by a FREE Reception at Barley’s Brew House.

Ohio Irrigation Association Annual Meeting

When: Wednesday, January 7th

Time: 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm
(reception following at Barley’s Brew House)

Where: The Greater Columbus Convention Center

Reception – Free Beer, Wine, and Food

Join Ohio Irrigation Contractors

Free Beer Illustration

When: Wednesday, January 7th

Time: 6:30 pm to whenever

Door Prizes Courtesy Hunter , Rain Bird & Toro)

Where:

Barley’s Brew House

467 North High Street

Columbus, Ohio

(Across the street from the Convention Center)


View Larger Map

Don’t miss out of the best party of the year. Mingle with old friends, vendors, and manufacturer’s representatives. Hunter, Rain Bird, and Toro personnel will be there as well as the Board of Directors for the Ohio Irrigation Association.

Find out how others fared through 2014. Learn about new products and old tricks. We will have companies from all over the state of Ohio.

Get the latest news and views from experts.

July is Smart Irrigation Month – Are You Ready?

Are you Ready for Smart Irrigation Month?

What is Smart Irrigation Month?

Irrigation Association's Smart Irrigation Month Color LogoMost homeowners overwater their yard, unintentionally wasting money every time they take out the hose or turn on the sprinklers. To raise awareness of the benefits of efficient watering practices, the Irrigation Association has named July Smart Irrigation Month.

First launched in 2005, Smart Irrigation Month is gaining traction as stakeholders recognize the positive impact efficient irrigation and water use provides.

Focused on July, this campaign provides a unified marketing platform and is designed to:

  • Educate businesses, homeowners, growers/producers and other users about efficient water use.
  • Encourage industry firms and professionals to promote smart irrigation practices and technologies.
  • Position your organization as a leader in smart water stewardship.

How Can You Participate?

Lawn Irrigation Spray HeadWhether your business is big or small or focused on agriculture, turf/landscape or golf applications, there are many ways to participate in the Smart Irrigation Month campaign.

Smart Irrigation Month is an industry campaign to increase public awareness of the value of water-use efficiency. Join other irrigation companies and professionals to:

  • Educate customers about efficient water-use.
  • Grow demand for water-saving technologies, products and services.
  • Provide real solutions to today’s water challenges.
  • Position your company as a leader in smart water-efficient practices.

Getting involved is as simple as adding the Smart Irrigation Month logo to your web site, ads or newsletter, or highlighting water-saving products during July.

 

How Can You Benefit from Smart Irrigation Month?

Wasting Dollars Water Image

Creating an efficient irrigation system requires specialized knowledge and understanding of irrigation design principles and local environmental conditions — something most weekend gardeners don’t have. Complying with local installation codes is another consideration.

Hiring a certified or licensed irrigation professional and insisting on high-quality components is the smart way to make sure your system will operate at peak efficiency for years to come. Always get multiple bids, check references and confirm your preferred vendor is properly insured.

Here are some Tips from the Ohio Irrigation Association

The Smart Marketing Contest honors the best Smart Irrigation Month marketing ideas and campaigns.

Large or small, agriculture or landscape, water provider or affiliate – all organizations will be recognized for their help in promoting this initiative. Celebrate the month, share the benefits of smart irrigation and position your company as a leader in water conservation.

Plan your campaign before July arrives, and prepare your contest submission for the Aug. 30 deadline.

Contest Details

Winner with TrophyWinners will be selected from a range of categories representing the diversity of the irrigation industry. Businesses large and small are encouraged to enter. Submissions are judged by a neutral panel based on messaging, quality, creativity and implementation of Smart Irrigation Month messaging.

All contest participants will be recognized:

  • On the IA and Smart Irrigation Month web sites.
  • In the Irrigation Show Guide, distributed on-site to all attendees and exhibitors.

Winners will be:

  • Recognized at the General Session of the Irrigation Show.
  • Showcased at the Smart Irrigation Month Idea Gallery and briefing at the show.
  • Highlighted on the IA and Smart Irrigation Month web sites.
  • Featured in an article in IA Times, IA’s monthly e-newsletter.
  • Profiled in free publicity to industry media.

Submission Requirements


Contest submissions are due Aug. 30. The contest is free to IA members and open to nonmembers for a $250 fee credited toward their membership application. The entry must include reference to the Smart Irrigation Month campaign or logo. Your submission should include:

  • Samples of all campaign materials (electronic samples preferred).

Submit all samples to smartcontest@irrigation.org or:

Smart Marketing Contest
Irrigation Association
6540 Arlington Blvd.
Falls Church, VA 22042-6638

Click here for smart ideas, logos and other free resources.

Smart Irrigation Month is an initiative of the Irrigation Association, a non-profit industry organization dedicated to promoting efficient irrigation. Learn more at www.smartirrigationmonth.org.