During Toro’s recent Success Without Excess III WaterSmart Symposium, the California Landscape Contractors Association (CLCA) reviewed its new statewide Water Management Certification Program to landscape professionals. This program is aimed at improving the efficiency of water use in new and existing landscaping in California.
“The Toro WaterSmart Symposium is an excellent forum to get everyone together to discuss controlling excess water usage and new conservation methods. Owners have trouble looking beyond the necessary costs of quality irrigation management,” said Larry Rohlfes, presenter and assistant executive direction of CLCA. “They also have trouble distinguishing between the conscientious water manager and those who provide minimum service for a cutthroat price. Water management is the one of the most important issues to CLCA members right now, and the Toro symposium offered us yet another opportunity to talk about it with landscapers.”
According to Rohlfes, the CLCA’s new Water Management program offers solutions that extend beyond existing programs where landscape professionals simply have to pass a test and then keep up on continuing education credits. The CLCA program has a performance component to ensure that candidates are actually applying the knowledge gained through a written exam. Also, the program requires continued performance in the field in lieu of continuing education for certified individuals to emphasize actually employing the techniques rather than just knowing them.
“The real hurdle of our programs is the performance requirement,” said Rohlfes. “Participants have to meet a water budget for one year. And to remain certified, they must continue to meet a water budget on at least one project.”
To set a water budget, participants must measure their site and provide information on plant categories and types of irrigation. The CLCA program manager then provides the participant with a site-specific annual water budget. The budget takes into account local reference evapotranspiration crop coefficients, distribution uniformities and a 30 percent effective rainfall percentage during the rain season. Participants must submit monthly water meter readings, and in turn, they receive monthly and annual reports showing how their projects are performing with respect to the budget and the evapotranspiration benchmark.
“The idea is for participants to share these reports with their clients to best understand the water and energy savings, and reward the water manager for a job well done,” says Rohlfes. “Our goal is that recognition for being good water managers will translate into our participants being able to charge higher fees for their services. This is a results-oriented program — it’s a real-world program created by landscape water managers for landscape water managers.”