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Do you want WaterSense playing on your turf?

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By: Jim Novak, Turfgrass Producers International

The EPA WaterSense Program began as most government programs do, with the best of intentions. The program’s goal was and is to propose specifications for “Water-Efficient Single-Family New Homes” that would help conserve a precious resource — water. But as history often shows, sometimes the best of intentions can evolve into something that can do more harm than good.

The idea behind the EPA WaterSense Program sounded reasonable; begin by proposing guidelines for indoor water use and follow-it up with outdoor specifications. It’s the latter that got the attention of turfgrass producers, landscapers, landscape contractors, irrigation specialists and others in the green industry. The concern had to do with how much turfgrass could or couldn’t be used. The proposed WaterSense specifications currently on the table suggests that only 40% of a landscaped area be turfgrass regardless of the regional location, climate, annual precipitation or type of turfgrass that is to be installed.

It really doesn’t matter if you live in an area that receives 36 in. of rain annually or as little as eight inches of rain annually. It doesn’t matter if the turfgrass is drought tolerant or not.

Some might suggest this is hardly a concern for athletic turf managers, sports field managers, grounds keepers, etc.; but on Aug. 20 WaterSense released a white paper titled Water Efficiency in the Commercial and Institutional Sector for a WaterSense Program” indicating the EPA might be considering expanding their interest by looking at the commercial, industrial and possibly even golf course use of natural turfgrass and water-related specifications.

If it’s true that the decision-makers at EPA’s WaterSense intend to expand their influence to a broader area, one has to ask the question, could community

parks, family recreational areas and athletic fields be next on the agenda? If so, will the folks at EPA’s WaterSense elect to bypass meeting with sports field specialists, golf course superintendents and professional groundskeepers in the same manner they avoided meeting with turfgrass research scientists and turfgass specialists as it relates to residential lawns?

Turfgrass Producers Internatinoal along with other members of the National Turfgrass Federation have been leading an effort to have anyone and everyone involved in the Green Industry to take note, read the propsed specifications that WaterSense has presented and voice their concern to their congressional representatives.

If the program is going to broaden its influence and you are involved in any aspect of overseeing, managing or maintaining a golf course or sports field, perhaps it is time for you to take notice. . .before they start playing on your turfgrass.

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