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

AWE Fears WaterSense May Lose Funding

The Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE) believes that the EPA’s WaterSense labeling program is in grave danger of losing its funding as part of Trump administration EPA budget cuts.

Which is why the AWE recently delivered a letter to EPA Administrator Pruitt to urge continued funding for the labeling program. WaterSense labeling has been proposed for elimination in the White House budget, along with the EPA’s Energy Star program.

The AWE’s letter outlines the numerous benefits of WaterSense. And it represents the support of 187 manufacturers, businesses, water providers, and other organizations.

EPA Administrator Holds Key to Funding

The 10-year-old WaterSense program was designed to help consumers save water by labeling products that use at least 20% less water, while performing as well as or better than standard models.

But the program has never been congressionally authorized and has been funded at the discretion of the EPA Administrator.

“The WaterSense program is a cornerstone of our nation’s water sustainability strategy, and has become vital to American communities, manufacturers, and service providers.”  That’s according to Mary Ann Dickinson, AWE President and CEO.

“Defunding the program will be harmful to US businesses and families.”   Mary Ann Dickinson, AWE President and CEO

She believes the Trump administration’s budget “undervalues the contribution water efficiency makes to economic growth and the benefits of efficiency for US-based manufacturing.” According to Dickinson, “Defunding the program will be harmful to US businesses and families.”

The AWE letter calls on Administrator Pruitt and Congress to maintain the $2 million budget for WaterSense, stating in part that WaterSense is “a voluntary public-private partnership that has saved American consumers more than $33 billion (in 2015 dollars) on their water and energy bills over the past decade.”

The letter goes on to state that “WaterSense has already saved more than 1.5 trillion gallons of water. That’s more than the amount of water used by all of the households in California for a year!”

Click Here to view the complete letter.

Corporate Support

The letter was supported by leading American companies and organizations such as the Irrigation Association, Hunter Industries, Rain Bird Corp, Kohler Company, and more than 183 other organizations, including water providers from around the country.

According to the AWE, the WaterSense program has more than 1,700 partner organizations that rely on the program to support their businesses or water efficiency strategies. The WaterSense standards are also the basis for legislation in four states and other local plumbing codes that reference it. In addition, the program helps consumers manage their water costs and can help American families reduce their water bills by up to $350 per year. 

Others agree that defunding the program is a bad idea. Such as Pete DeMarco, AWE Board Chair and Executive Vice President of Advocacy & Research at the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials. “Eliminating WaterSense would destabilize the marketplace for manufacturers… and irrigation professionals that market their WaterSense certification.” 

As a result, the AWE is working closely with the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials, Plumbing Manufacturers International, American Water Works Association, and the High-Performance Buildings Coalition to preserve the labeling program. They invite all organizations with a stake in water resources to join them in the effort.
 

Want to Get Involved? Here’s How…

The Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE) is accepting new members.

The AWE is the only non-profit organization dedicated solely to the sustainable and efficient use of water in North America.

The Alliance is carving a path to a water-efficient and water-secure world, and they invite you to join this group of leading thinkers, decision-makers and pioneers.

To Join the AWE or to Learn More…
Click Here

Sources:

Alliance for Water Efficiency

WaterWorld

What Are YOU Doing to Promote 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:

smart

  • 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

It’s National Fix a Leak Week!

Did you know….

Each year, household leaks can waste more than 1 trillion gallons of water nationwide? That amount is:

  • Nine percent of the total water needed to end California’s five-year drought
  • Enough to fill 40 million swimming pools and 24 billion bathtubs
  • Almost equal to the capacity of Florida’s vast Lake Okeechobee
  • Equal to the annual household water use of more than 11 million homes

Plug Those Leaks!

The EPA’s “Fix a Leak Week” is a national effort to stop that waste. This year’s event runs from March 20 through March 26.

Much of the problem stems from leaky kitchen and bathroom faucets, malfunctioning toilets and errant sprinkler systems. Fixing some of these easily corrected household water leaks can save homeowners about 10 percent on their water bills, according to the EPA.

Karen Wirth is in charge of marketing and outreach for the EPA’s WaterSense program. In her view, most folks are clueless about the total amount of water wasted because they “see a couple of drips coming out of their shower head, or sprinkler outside, or faucet, it doesn’t seem like that much.” 

So each year, the EPA hones in on the drips during Fix a Leak Week. Special events are planned from coast to coast to teach homeowners how to find and fix household leaks. To download the EPA’s Fix a Leak fact sheet click, click here.

Easy Fixes

There’s a simple way to check for leaks in the toilet, Wirth said. “Just put a few drops of food coloring in the tank. If that shows up in the bowl, you have a leak.” This problem can often be fixed by simply replacing the flapper.

Replacing old and worn faucet washers and gaskets fixes most faucet leaks. For leaky shower heads, use pipe tape to secure the connection between the showerhead and the pipe stem.

For the EPA’s complete list of leak fixes, click here.

fix a leakLeave It to the Pros

Irrigation systems can be another problem area. But this one best left to the professionals.

“An irrigation system that has a leak 1/32nd of an inch in diameter (about the thickness of a dime) can waste about 6,300 gallons of water per month,” according to the EPA.

They suggest that homeowners consult an irrigation professional certified by WaterSense to check for leaks throughout the system.


Sources:

EPA.gov

The Washington Post

Alliance for Water Efficiency

Water Efficiency in the Trump Administration

 

With a new administration in Washington, water efficiency advocates will be changing their tactics.

It’s All About Jobs… 

Instead of focusing almost exclusively on policy issues, they will now concentrate on job creation and water infrastructure. “Water efficiency is a non-partisan issue,” according to Mary Ann Dickenson, President and CEO of Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE). That’s because it’s implications are so broad, reaching across both public and private sectors.

For instance, the infrastructure spending for water efficiency creates jobs in both public and private sectors. And implementing new technologies and efficient products also creates jobs. This fits in well with President Trump’s agenda, Dickinson said.

The AWE cites a recent study that showed a government investment of $10 billion in water efficiency would result in the creation of 150,000 to 220,000 jobs. The economic benefit to the nation would be $1.30 to $1.50 for each $1 invested.

…and Taxes

Another priority for the AWE will be the introduction of  legislation to authorize tax-free water-efficiency rebates. Whereas energy-efficiency rebates have been tax-free since the 1990s, not so with rebates received from water utilities. Right now, taxpayers who receive water-efficiency rebates are sent a 1099 by the utility at the end of the year.

The Water-Energy Nexus

The rebate issue also draws attention to the so-called “water-energy nexus” — another hot-button issue which the AWE believes must be explored, both in policy and funding. 

“Right now, policy and funding (for water and energy) are very unequal,” said Gene Goldenberg, AWE’s Legislative Director. “Billions are spent on the state level for energy efficiency,” Goldenberg said. “Very little supplemental funding goes to water efficiency. Water utilities bear the burden; energy utilities do not.”

What’s Being Done?

So far this year, three water-efficiency bills have been introduced:

  1. H.R. 301 – NIST Plumbing Research Act of 2017. This bill would establish a laboratory within the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to conduct research on standards for home and building plumbing to increase water efficiency, safety and sustainability. 
  2. H.R. 306 – Energy Efficient Government Technology Act. This bill requires that government data centers develop an implementation strategy for the maintenance, purchase, and use of energy- and water-efficient information technologies. The resolution has passed the House of Representatives and was sent to the Senate.
  3. H.R. 448 – Water Conservation Tax Parity Act. This bill would amend Section 136 of the Internal Revenue Code to include rebates provided by water utilities for water conservation and storm-water management.

Our Decaying Infrastructure

According to the most recent report card (2013) from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), America’s water infrastructure is in a shambles.

“Much of our drinking water infrastructure is nearing the end of its useful life. There are an estimated 240,000 water main breaks per year in the United States,” the report stated. “Pipes and mains are frequently more than 100 years old and in need of replacement.” The estimated cost of replacement would total about $1 trillion.

In addition, the report card indicated that our nation’s wastewater and stormwater systems will require a capital investment of $298 billion over the next twenty years. Three-quarters of this must be spent on repairing and expanding pipes.

The ASCE’s 2017 Infrastructure Report Card will be published on March 9.

What Can We Expect?

With the new administration, “the playing field has changed,” Goldenberg said.  Just how well the Republican leaders will be able to work with President Trump remains to be seen.

The AWE expects that a lot of legislation will continue to emerge and will probably be signed. However, it will still be difficult to bring House resolutions to a vote in the Senate.

Fortunately, water-efficiency advocates have an ally in Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Ala.), chairman of  the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee. According to Dickinson, the AWE has a “good relationship” with Murkowski.

As a result, they are hopeful that water-efficiency bills will not remain stalled in the Senate.

What Can We Do?

The AWE believes that support from business interests will be crucial in the Trump administration. Which is why they are suggesting that concerned citizens get their CEO’s and boards of directors involved in the water-efficiency issue.

To this end, the AWE has created a sample resolution for support of the Water Conservation Tax Parity Act. 

“Water efficiency is a local issue, with local influence,” Dickinson said. So local businesses and community leaders must get involved. The AWE will provide them with support, she said.

In the meantime, individual states can continue to act on their own, as they have in the past, Dickinson said. She cited examples of Texas, Georgia, California, Colorado, where water-efficiency regulations have already been enacted.  

Want to Get Involved? Here’s How…

The Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE) is accepting new members.

The AWE is the only non-profit organization dedicated solely to the sustainable and efficient use of water in North America.

The Alliance is carving a path to a water-efficient and water-secure world, and they invite you to join this group of leading thinkers, decision-makers and pioneers.

To Join the AWE or to Learn More…
Click Here

Sources:

Alliance for Water Efficiency

Congress.gov

American Society of Civil Engineers

Estimating Workshop for Irrigation Contractors February 20, 2017 by JR Huston

Help Wanted – Irrigation Installation Foreman, Columbus (OH) Area

Environmental Management LogoEnvironmental Management, Columbus, Ohio
Experienced Landscape Irrigation Installation Foreman Needed

Help Wanted — Irrigation Installation Foreman needed for installing and maintaining underground irrigation systems for both residential and commercial clients according to EMI standard operating procedures.

Position requires previous irrigation experience and/or electrical experience.  Foreman works in cooperation with Landscape Design/Sales, Landscape Division Operations Manager, with quality and customer satisfaction as top priority.

Communicates and resolves all issues related to installation to ensure the installation meets the specifications of the design and client.  Able to properly maintain and complete daily paperwork needed to report service activities to customers and EMI administration.  Able and willing to communicate with customer when needed.

Position may require working off hours and weekends to service residential clients.  Must be available to work extended hours, weekends and during inclement weather.

The employee must provide leadership and work direction for Irrigation Crew Laborers.  They are responsible for vehicle operation, equipment operation and adherence to EMI established safety procedures.

Salary based on experience, ranging from $17.00 to $25.00 an hour

For more information on available career opportunities, please call EMI Employee Services at 614.876.9988, or visit us at www.landscapepros.com.


About Environmental Management

Environmental Management Inc. is one of the largest landscape companies in the Columbus, Ohio, and Central Ohio areas. Environmental Management designs, builds and maintains hundreds of attractive, quality outdoor environments for both residential and commercial properties. Their experienced and hardworking professional staff provides the most comprehensive array of landscape services available in today’s marketplace – and they’re dedicated to exceeding expectations, everyday!

Can the Ohio River Be Saved?

ohio river

The Ohio River is the most polluted body of water in the United States.

In fact, more than 24 million pounds of chemicals were dumped into the Ohio River by industries and businesses in 2013. That’s according to the most recent Toxic Release Inventory report produced by the Ohio River Valley Sanitation Commission.

How Bad Is It?

Although this sounds alarming, that figure is actually down from the high point of 33 million pounds in 2006. About 92% of the pollutants are nitrate compounds, commonly found in pesticides and fertilizers.

And, even more surprisingly, the river technically meets the human health standards for nitrates. So minimal changes are being made in their regulation.

But nitrates on the only problem the Ohio River has. Levels of mercury — a potent neurotoxin that impairs fetal brain development — in the Ohio River increased by more than 40% between 2007 and 2013, according to EPA data.

On the Waterfront

The Greater Cincinnati Water Works is well aware of the chemical levels in the Ohio River. Apparently, they have both carbon filtration and ultraviolet (UV) disinfection treatment systems in place to remove the toxins.

According to Jeff Swertfeger, Water Works’ Superintendent of Water Quality Management, “This facility is specially designed in order to remove the industrial-type contaminants like the gasolines, herbicides, pesticides, and things like that. If they get into the Ohio River and they get into the water, we can remove them here with our system.” 

He added that the Water Works monitors chemical levels hundreds of times a day to ensure the drinking water is safe.  

So Who’s to Blame?

Despite several clean-up initiatives and stricter regulation over the years, Ohio River industries still discharge more than double the amount of pollutants than the Mississippi River receives.

Most of the toxic compounds emanate from AK Steel’s Rockport, Indiana, plant, according to environmental website Outward On.  But the plant shifts the blame to farm run-off from nitrogen-based fertilizers. Currently, the EPA does not require farm run-off to be reported in their Toxic Release Inventory.

Science has shown that nitrates contribute to toxic algae blooms and oxygen-depleted dead zones. (Once such area in the Gulf of Mexico, for instance, is about the size of Connecticut.)

One Vision for Restoration

But Collin O’Mara, President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, is hoping to ignite a new vision for the region’s most vital natural resources.

“Twenty-five million people live in the Ohio River Valley Basin,” O’Mara said. “That’s almost a tenth of the country. And yet we’ve seen virtually no investment of federal resources in trying to clean up the legacy pollution. The Ohio is still the most polluted waterway in the entire country.” 

That is not acceptable, according to O’Mara. “We’ve been working with some of the mayors and different advocacy groups in the region, trying to just begin talking about the Ohio River as a system and [develop] a vision for the entire watershed.”

Because the Ohio is considered a “working waterway,” it’s typically been treated as simply a support for larger industrial facilities. And while industrial jobs are important, O’Mara says, we cannot afford to degrade our waterways.

“Right now across America, the outdoor economy is about a $646 billion economy. It employs more than six million people. And that puts it on par with many of the largest industries in the country. A lot of those jobs are water-dependent jobs related to fishing or swimming or outdoor activities. So one of the cases we’re trying to make is that it doesn’t have to be ‘either/or.’ The technologies exist now that we can actually have some industrial facilities and still not have to contaminate the waterway. ”

O’Mara added that “Given the political power that’s in the region between Pennsylvania, Ohio and Kentucky—I mean, you have some of the most important people in Washington that live along this watershed—there’s no reason why we can’t have significant investment go into the region.”

One thing is clear: Without significant change, the environmental future for the Ohio River is grim.

Hope Floats

But O’Mara is optimistic.

“If we can show progress in the Ohio River Valley…in a place that has a lot of legacy pollution…we can make it work anywhere.”

Until then, lest we forget what crystal clear water actually looks like:


Sources:

WLWT Cincinnati

Outwardon.com

WESA.fm

Environmental Law & Policy Center

“Using Your Smarts” With Smart Irrigation Controllers Featuring JC Wheaton

Lawn & Landscape January 2016 CoverJ.C. Wheaton, President of the Ohio Irrigation Association and manager of Centerville Irrigation in Ohio, was recently featured in Lawn & Landscape’s article entitled, “Total Control.” Smart Irrigation controllers are the next step in the efficient use of water in the landscape.

J.C. was interviewed about Smart Irrigation Controllers, calling the new technology “the responsible thing to do.”

JC Wheaton Head & ShouldersWheaton’s company installs a controller with a smart sensor, capable of sensing local weather conditions. The sensor then automatically alerts the controller to the current conditions, eliminating the need for human manipulation.  This is something customers appreciate, because “it saves them from either having to go to the box themselves or calling us for a return trip,” Wheaton said.

One-Stop Service

Customers also love the fact that the system is a “one-stop” service that automatically adjusts to the temperature.   “They don’t have to go out three times or four times a season to adjust everything.”  He considers this the system’s strongest selling point for new customers.  “You’re saving them the hassle with keeping the property the way they want,” he said.

While Wheaton admits that the smart controller system costs more than a traditional controller (still less than $100), he believes the energy and water savings make it a much better long-term deal.

More Commercial Use Needed

commerical-sprinklersWhich is one reason he hopes commercial architects and designers will jump on board to maximize efficiency of their designs.  Right now, the smart controller systems are not very well stocked on commercial projects, and that’s resulting in poor efficiency.  “You see them all the time running in the rain, no matter what town you’re in,” Wheaton says. “Running too long, running in the gutter…because they were not put in correctly with the right components.”

The Down Side?

One of the potential drawbacks to the smart controller system is losing control of when the zones are running. “You’re basically turning that over to the clock to make those decisions, which isn’t always a bad thing. But sometimes the homeowner or resident wants to know their irrigation schedule and you can’t necessarily tell them that,” Wheaton said.

Companies will also see fewer mid-season service calls. Contractors who are concerned about that are probably not the type who will benefit from using the smart control system, Wheaton said.  “It’s about the efficiency of getting the best product to your customer. Those callbacks can be used other ways, such as zoning and monthly business checks.”


Source:

Lawn & Landscape, http://www.lawnandlandscape.com/article/total-control/

 

Help Wanted – Irrigation Installation Foreman Columbus, Ohio Area

Environmental Management LogoEnvironmental Management, Columbus, Ohio
Help Wanted – Experienced Landscape Irrigaiton Installation Foreman

Irrigation Installation Foreman needed for installing and maintaining underground irrigation systems for both residential and commercial clients according to EMI standard operating procedures.

Position requires previous irrigation experience and/or electrical experience.  Foreman works in cooperation with Landscape Design/Sales, Landscape Division Operations Manager, with quality and customer satisfaction as top priority.

Communicates and resolves all issues related to installation to ensure the installation meets the specifications of the design and client.  Able to properly maintain and complete daily paperwork needed to report service activities to customers and EMI administration.  Able and willing to communicate with customer when needed.

Position may require working off hours and weekends to service residential clients.  Must be available to work extended hours, weekends and during inclement weather.

The employee must provide leadership and work direction for Irrigation Crew Laborers.  They are responsible for vehicle operation, equipment operation and adherence to EMI established safety procedures.

Salary based on experience, ranging from $17.00 to $25.00 an hour

For more information on available career opportunities, please call EMI Employee Services at 614.876.9988, or visit us at www.landscapepros.com.


About Environmental Management

Environmental Management Inc. is one of the largest landscape companies in the Columbus, Ohio, and Central Ohio areas. Environmental Management designs, builds and maintains hundreds of attractive, quality outdoor environments for both residential and commercial properties. Their experienced and hardworking professional staff provides the most comprehensive array of landscape services available in today’s marketplace – and they’re dedicated to exceeding expectations, everyday!

JR Houston Estimating Workshop for Irrigation Contractors February 18th

Estimating System Overview

In this workshop Landscape and Irrigation contractors will be Introduced to the key components of an effective estimating system.  The pros and cons of each of the six most common methods of estimating used in the market today are discussed in depth.

Training PuzzleWHERE

Ohio Turfgrass Research and Education Facility
2710 North Star Road
Columbus, Ohio 43221

Click Here for Directions

WHEN

Wednesday, February 18, 2015 from 7:45 AM to 5:00 PM (EST)

COST

$50 – Ohio Irrigation Association Members
$150 – Non-members

Eventbrite - JR Houston Estimating Workshop for Irrigation Contractors

Those who attend will be provided with a detailed explanation of the key principles involved in:
• The estimating budget process
• Calculating and controlling equipment costs
• Calculating labor burden and average wages
• Measuring, allocating, and controlling general and administrative overhead costs
• Reviewing a bid
• Determining general conditions costs in a bid
• Understanding market predisposition
• Understanding the six most common methods of estimating used n the market

Estimating Excel Workbook

Landscape and Irrigation contractors and/or key staff will learn how to use J.R. Huston Enterprises’ MS Excel worksheets (attendees will have to have their own computer) to:

  • Prepare a general and administrative (G&A) overhead and field-labor hour budget
  • Calculate labor burden, average wage, and equipment costs
  • Price/bid projects by the lump sum method
  • Measure, allocate, and control G&A overhead costs
  • Understand the total quality management (TQM) process as it relates to estimating
  • Understand the six most common methods of estimating used in the market today
  • And more…

Attendees will need:

  • A laptop computer with MS Excel and a CD drive
  • A calculator (with extension cord if necessary)
  • Note pad, pens and pencils
  • State unemployment rate *
  • Workers’ compensation insurance (WCI) rates/policy *
  • General liability insurance rates/policy *
  • Medical insurance costs
  • Most recent year-end Profit & Loss (P&L) statement *
  • Current year P&L (if available) *
            * Approximate numbers provided by Jim Huston for start-up companies

 

Eventbrite - JR Houston Estimating Workshop for Irrigation Contractors

Water Rates Go Up Three Times Faster than the Consumer Price Index

The Price of Water

Wasting Dollars Water ImageWater rates continue to rise faster than the rate of inflation. Most major U.S. cities have experienced a 25% water rate increase over the last three years. At this rate of growth, landscape and irrigation contractors throughout the U.S. will no doubt incorporate this reality in their water conservation plans on all future projects.

Click Here for the full report base on the Circle of Blue‘s annual survey of water rates for single-family residential customers.

In 2013, the increase in the water rates for residential customers averaged 6.7%.

In 2013, the increase in water rates for residential customers averaged 6.7%. This is three times higher than the Consumer Price Index of 2.1% for 2012. Surprisingly, the residential cost of water for a family of four is lower in states within arid regions than in more temperate regions of the country. In comparison: a typical family of four in Phoenix, Arizona pays about $35 per month; whereas, in Boston, Massachusetts a typical family of four pays about $65 per month for the same amount of water.

Not surprisingly, average residential water use is significantly higher in areas of low rainfall. Fresno, California, with an average water use of 200 gallons of water per person per day, has the highest per capita water use in the nation. Conversely, Boston, Massachusetts, with an average water use of less than 50 gallons of water per person per day, has the lowest per capita water use of any major city in the United States.

Water Rates & Water Conservation

Water conservation continues to be a major focus in cities where water infrastructure is at capacity. However cities with excess capacity, such as Milwaukee, Wisconsin, are encouraging water consumption. Over the last three decades Milwaukee water use has dropped over 40%. The declining use of water in Milwaukee is because of the disappearance of breweries and tanneries, both water intensive businesses, who went out of business or relocated out of the area.

Water conservation is working. Per capita water use is decreasing. Water demand throughout the United States is falling or remaining steady despite increases in population. Water use in the United States peaked around 1980. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) reported, “after 1980 water use started to decrease a bit, possibly due to the Nation making more use of water-conservation measures.”

Ohio Domestic Water Use Increases 25%

Midwest Water Rates

2010 – 2013 Water Rates Midwest Cities – Circle of Blue

In 2005, domestic water consumption in Ohio averaged 69 gallons per person per day. The average consumption rate ten years prior was 54 gallons per person per day. This represents a 25% increase in domestic water consumption within a ten-year period.

Water rates are also on the rise for many communities. Across the country water rates increased nearly 7% in thirty major U.S. cities. Columbus, Ohio water rates have increased 4% in 2013. In Chicago, water rates have increased 15%. Whereas other Midwestern cities, such as Indianapolis and Milwaukee, reported no increase in their water rates.

Water Conservation Strategies

There is more work to do in conserving outdoor water use. Newer technologies like rain sensors and ET-based controllers help; however, simpler methods are available.

Professionalism – Join your national and local irrigation association. Get certified, become an EPA WaterSense Partner and promote professionalism.

Rain Sensors – Install a rain sensor on every irrigation system.

Drip Irrigation – Use low-volume micro-irrigation or drip in shrub areas and flowerbeds.

Monthly Water Budget Adjustments – Adjust the water budget monthly during the season.

Irrigate Only When Necessary – Encourage homeowners and property managers to irrigate only when necessary.

Weather – Watch the weather forecast for upcoming rain events and turn off the irrigation controller.

Correct Sprinkler Head Spacing – Insist on head-to-head coverage fro sprinkler spacing on every job.

Nozzle correctly – Match sprinkler head precipitation rates by installing the appropriate nozzle.

EPA WaterSense Milestone Graphic

Since the program’s inception in 2006, WaterSense has helped consumers save a cumulative 487 billion gallons of water and $8.9 billion in water and energy bills.