Florida county demands approval for new irrigation projects

July 19, 2017 -  By

According to a new code enacted in April 2016, irrigation professionals in Alachua County, an unincorporated county in Florida, must now seek county approval—and pay an application fee—for all new irrigation systems installed.

In its first year, the county saved 9 million gallons of water due to the code. It’s also denied, at least during the initial review, of as many as 25 percent of the 200 projects that have sought approval since the code took effect, the Gainsville Sun reports.

But one irrigation professional says the county blocking unqualified projects is not necessarily a bad thing.

“Because of the new code, it has really separated the nonprofessionals from the professionals who really know what they are doing,” said Mark Entrekin, landscape architect and designer with Entropic Landscapes.

The Landscape Irrigation Efficiency Design Code, developed by the Alachua County Commission in Alachua County, Fla., was created to improve landscape irrigation efficiency, water quality and to reduce discretionary outdoor water use in new construction developments in unincorporated Alachua County, Fla., Stacie Greco, the county’s water conservation coordinator, told the Gainsville Sun.

The code requires county approval for all new irrigation systems installed in unincorporated Alachua County. During this approval process, landscape irrigation professionals must submit applications and sketches as well as pay a fee. All systems then go through an inspection process. The inspection fee is waived for irrigation professionals who are certified for self-inspection or who hire a Florida Water Star Certifier to inspect the system.

Most of the applications submitted have been for residential projects at a cost of $50 for plan reviews, $85 for inspections and $50 for re-inspections, if one is needed. The fees for nonresidential projects include $100 for plan reviews, $170 for inspections and $100 for re-inspections.

The code also mandates all irrigation professionals installing and maintaining irrigation systems register with the county Environmental Protection Department.

“Water is not an endless resource,” Entrekin also told the Gainsville Sun. “By following what the county has set up, more water can be saved if homeowners and irrigation professionals do what is recommended. The goal is to make property owners more aware of what we are trying to do. We want to help them save water.”

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