By John R. Farner, Jr.
Water continues to be a focus of state legislatures and U.S. Congress, and as drought continues its hold through many areas of the United States, we expect this focus to continue throughout 2017.
The landscape irrigation industry is at the forefront of many legislative and regulatory discussions relating to the future of water use and availability, which may have a real impact on the future of the industry. Here is a look at just a couple of the issues the industry faced in 2016:
- Scope of Practice. States regulate the landscape irrigation industry different from one another. In some states, an irrigation contractor licensing board licenses the practice of irrigation contracting. In others, a plumbing board regulates irrigation contractors. Yet, in others, the trade is unregulated. The Irrigation Association believes that if irrigation contractors are licensed, the licensing board should consist of irrigation contractors. In many states, we are seeing other interests wanting to control outdoor water use, including irrigation contractors. We expect this threat to the industry to continue into 2017 and beyond.
- Drought. As California’s drought continues to plague the state, we are finding drought affecting other areas, such as the Northeast and Southeast United States. These droughts may or may not be temporary, and the Irrigation Association does not want the industry to be put into a position where outdoor irrigation is banned, except in an extreme, last-cast scenario. The Irrigation Association will continue to work with states on proactive drought plans, as well as collaborating with governments and NGOs on encouraging efficient water use to mitigate the effects of drought.
John R. Farner, Jr. is government & public affairs director at Irrigation Association.
For more information about irrigation issues, policy, education, and more, visit www.irrigation.org.