December 2009
2009 Has Been a Big Year for Regulatory Efforts...Here's a Recap

Whether we like it or not, as we look ahead to 2010 there’s no question that water issues will continue to be at the forefront. According to the USEPA, 36 states could be facing water-shortage problems by 2013.

On October 5th of this year, the President of the United States issued an Executive Order focusing on Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy and Economic Performance. According to the White House, improving water efficiency is a top priority with “reducing potable water consumption intensity by 2 percent annually through fiscal year 2020.”

Included is a focus on landscape water-use reduction of 20 percent by the end of fiscal year 2020. This effort will put more concentration on the documented efficient and effective use of water resources, potentially putting clubs that have neglected their irrigation system over the years in a position to have to upgrade.

Warren Gorowitz – VP of Sustainability & Conservation for Ewing states, “The pressure to use this limited resource as efficiently as possible will continue as the ‘Green Industry’ is called upon to be better stewards of the environment.”

The EPA launched its WaterSense Program in 2006 to protect the future of our nation’s water supply by promoting water efficiency through product labeling and recognizing professional practice. The EPA is exploring expanding the program to include a commercial and institutional (CI) sector. Golf courses are among the areas included in that CI Subsector.

Gorowitz continues: “The danger with some of these emerging programs is that they tend to be prescriptive in nature and apply a ‘one-size-fits-all’ structure to the entire country. At the same time, some are questioning whether or not planting and maintaining turfgrass is an appropriate use of water.”

To Gorowitz’s point, this one-size-fits-all approach is truly a weak effort that should be carefully studied and polled throughout our industry; something that the EPA currently is not doing. The end result will affect every single one of us in the industry and more than likely not produce the intended outcome.

In some sense, the combination of the drought and economic challenges has presented us with the “perfect storm.” An opportunity exists to promote the benefits of green space and its ecosystem-service benefits.

This opportunity is best capitalized if the entire Green Industry can work together and partner on a proactive, positive message. This is my call to action for us to reach out to our industry partners and develop a sound, comprehensive plan for the future.

On a positive note, there are some agencies that have recognized our conservation efforts. A USGSA report dated November 2, 2009, emphasizes contributions of efficient irrigation to the nation’s water supply during a keynote address given October 29 at the National Press Club. The report states that in 2005, the majority of irrigation withdrawals and irrigated acres was in the Western states, but significant increases in irrigation have occurred in some Southeastern states.

The report continues to state that even though the amount of irrigated acres throughout the United States has increased, irrigation application rates have decreased steadily from 1950 to 2005; a change that is directly attributed to the increased use of more efficient irrigation systems.

As we look forward to 2010 and beyond, it’s certain that unless we organize collectively, we can expect more shotgun regulation.