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Irrigation Regulations: What You Need To Know For 2020

The new year will be ringing in many new things including new regulations that may affect your business and clients’ properties. Some states have regulations proposed or in place for pressure-regulating irrigation systems. Many have also enacted increased drainage regulations for their areas.

Below are two areas of regulations to keep in mind in 2020.

Pressure Regulation Legislation

Beginning in 2020, many states will be moving toward requiring pressure-regulating sprinklers. In the past similar regulations have required only new irrigation system installs include pressure regulation sprinklers. Next year, however, many states will be mandating all irrigation systems be upgraded to include pressure regulated sprinklers. Why are they requiring old systems to be updated? Both California and Colorado have stated their main goal with these new regulations is to reduce energy and water waste. In Colorado, these regulations are tied to other water and energy efficiency standards attached to House Bill 19-1231 as well.

There are differences in each states’ regulations, but most refer to the EPA’s definition of spray sprinkler bodies. California’s regulation with Resolution 19-0814-7 will not affect agricultural sprinklers and does not currently include hose-end sprinklers, rotors or valve-in-head sprinklers.

These new regulations are not only affecting contractors but homeowners as well, since irrigation systems will be required to be retro-fitted for pressure-regulating sprinklers. Many property owners will need to update their irrigation systems in 2020 to be in compliance with the new regulations in their state and many may not know how or have time to do so.

What This Means For You

This is where contractors and maintenance companies come in. Retrofitting is a great way for your companies to bring solutions to your customers.  Be prepared to present your clients with pressure-regulating solutions before they ask for it. Let them know that you are looking out for them and want to make sure that they are in line with the new regulation.

These pressure-regulating sprinklers are more expensive than the traditional sprinklers that many property owners are used to. Reassure them that the they will see monetary savings through less water usage within the first year. Their money is well spent – not only is it reducing water waste but it is also a cost-effective way to irrigate a landscape.

These states’ regulations will go into effect on the following dates:

  • California – Oct. 1, 2020
  • Colorado – Jan. 1, 2021
  • Hawaii – 2021
  • Vermont - 2020

Other states’ with proposed regulations include:

  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Rhode Island
  • Washington

Updates to Drainage Ordinances

Updates to drainage ordinances are consistently being proposed across the nation. Currently all Federal facilities that exceed a footprint of 5,000 sq. ft. must comply with Section 438 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Section 438 defines which Federal facilities must comply and how they are to reduce their stormwater runoff footprint.

The Section 438 Technical Guide explains the difference between Stormwater runoff in a forest and an urbanized area. In a typical annual water budget, the forest retains a groundwater level of 36.6% whereas an urbanized area only retains 15% of its groundwater level. The Evaporation-Transpiration is also greater in forested land (37.4%) over urbanized land (25%). Due to less pervious surfaces, less water is evaporated and less water is infiltrated into the ground. This creates a surface runoff of 30% in urban areas which is a large increase from the 0.3% of surface runoff is forested areas. According to the EPA stormwater runoff can have negative consequences including:

  • Downstream flooding
  • Increased muddiness
  • Habitat destruction
  • Water pollution caused by storm and sanitary sewer systems combining
  • Infrastructure damage
  • Contaminated streams, rivers and coastal water

Federal regulations are not the only ones in play. The last decade has seen many states, cities and counties creating their own regulations regarding stormwater runoff. For example, California’s Code on Stormwater Management and Rainwater Retentionrequires and recommends standards going forward for stormwater management and drainage solutions. California’s goal is to reduce runoff and increase infiltration in order to recharge the groundwater and improve water quality. This regulation requires all planted landscapes to have friable soil to increase water retention and infiltration. Currently the remaining sections of this regulation are recommendations rather than requirements.

How This Impacts Your Business

With the increasing attention to stormwater runoff, these recommendations may become requirements soon and property owners, contractors and maintenance companies can prepare now. When developing a landscape area keep stormwater runoff in mind. Think about how your landscape design would react to 1 inch of rain or a 24 hour rain event. A few ideas that the California’s Code recommends are:

  • Grading impervious surfaces during construction
  • Minimizing impervious surface areas
  • Direct runoff into landscaping

The EPA also recommends some solutions:

  • Green roofs
  • Rain Barrels and Cisterns
  • Permeable Pavements
  • Curb and Gutter Elimination

These regulations may seem time-consuming and overbearing to your job, but they do not have to impact your business negatively. Updated requirements to drainage systems will require updates to your client’s properties and an increase of work for your company. Also, the less surface runoff that occurs in urban areas, the less damage it will cause to buildings and landscapes. The decrease in runoff will mean a decrease in warranted work that will be called in when properties are damaged. It will also give you the opportunity to bring solutions to your clients. Help them protect their property before the requirements in your area are more restrictive and before a storm occurs. Help them be prepared for the future and save them potential headaches of dealing with damages.

Make sure to keep up to date with your local regulations, especially in regard to pressure regulations and drainage ordinances as these two will continue to be an important aspect of legislative proposals. Take these updates as an opportunity to be the expert to your clients and save the them from future headaches. Be the solution they need before they realize they need it.


TAGS: Irrigation Laws, New Drainage Ordinances, Water Management, Irrigation, New Irrigation regulations, Irrigation Regulations, New Irrigation laws