The American Society of Irrigation Consultants: An introduction

February 20, 2019 -  By

Last May, 20 percent of the U.S. was experiencing severe to extreme drought. That number jumped to 25 percent in June, according to the National Climactic Data Center and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

So, how can landscape and irrigation professionals practice good water management and still maintain healthy plant growth? The American Society of Irrigation Consultants (ASIC) seeks to help answer that question.

ASIC was formed in California in 1970, but the group’s headquarters is currently in Royal Oak, Mich. It is comprised of about 285 members from around the U.S.

According to ASIC, recognition that water is a finite resource has put pressure and scrutiny on the landscape irrigation industry. That’s why part of the core mission of ASIC is to advocate for the responsible use and preservation of water resources and to create fundamental irrigation design standards, improve system efficiencies and eliminate water waste.

The primary objective of the group, according to Executive Director Carol Colein, is to promote the efficient use of water for irrigation through education of members on the latest technology and tools for providing the most
energy-efficient systems possible.

Irrigation will continue to be under scrutiny by public agencies, the organization says, and the industry needs to continue to put forward a professional, cohesive approach to respond to outside pressures to reduce or eliminate landscape irrigation.

What is an irrigation consultant?

An irrigation consultant offers an unbiased opinion to clients so they can decide how they would like to irrigate their property. They work independently from contractors, manufacturers or distributors.

Although irrigation consultants typically don’t work directly with landscape contractors, they are important resources and can be a good source of knowledge for anyone taking on an irrigation project.

Irrigation consultants may give their clients, such as builders and property owners, a list of preferred bidders — contractors who have proven they can do a good job and do it on time.

So, it helps contractors to have knowledge of the consultants in their area they could work with. It could help land a major irrigation project if an irrigation consultant knows that a company has a reputation for doing good work.

“A consultant would say, ‘Here are the products, here are the contractors, here’s what we recommend,’” Colein says.

It also helps for landscape contractors to keep a finger on the pulse of what new technology or innovations consultants are incorporating into their plans. Consultants spend every day trying to design the most efficient and effective irrigation system, Colein says. So, in a lot of ways, they drive industry standards.

“Irrigation consultants have been known to start trends in terms of a new product coming out,” she adds. “Saying ‘Yes, this is great.’ They start specing it, and then a year later, it seems to be the industry standard. So, a lot of times, they’re on the forefront of trends or the evolution of better design, a better system.”

Additionally, many members of ASIC are involved in the Net Zero Water concept and work to promote the incorporation of rain catching, condensation, effluent water and tertiary-treated water into irrigation plans, Colein says. These measures may be adopted by contractors to preserve potable water.

Additionally, the Irrigation Association and ASIC teamed up and developed best management practices for irrigation systems, which can be used by landscape contractors who do irrigation installation. The three areas the document focuses on are design, installation and maintenance and operation of irrigation systems. According to Colein, it’s a three-legged stool.

“You can have a great design, but if it’s not installed properly, you’ve got nothing,” she says. “You can have a great design that’s well installed, but if it’s not managed properly, you’ve got nothing. You need to have all three pieces of that puzzle, and they all need to work together.”

This all plays into the bigger picture of preserving the right to use water to maintain landscapes, Colein adds. If irrigation systems are properly designed, installed and maintained, they can produce beautiful green spaces while still conserving an important resource.

Clara Richter

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