The long game

Contractors can be proud of what they've already done to help.
Kyle Brown, Irrigation & Lighting editor-in-chief
(Photo: Nikki Avramovich)

If you’ve been following our original reporting on the Irrigation & Lighting website for the past few months, you’re up to date on the newest water use regulations coming down for dealing with drought. While there’s still some ambiguity about how those rules will be applied and what effect they’ll have, reduced water availability isn’t anything new for irrigation contractors in places like California or Texas.

It’s an enormous problem and situated to only escalate sooner rather than later. While no single irrigation professional can create a large, systemic change, it isn’t always about a big gesture.

That’s one of the driving forces behind this year’s Smart Irrigation Month theme of “Proud of our past. Focused on our future.” Irrigation professionals have been instrumental in responsibly managing water use in our communities for decades as we deal with the realities of our environment no matter where we live. Contractors can be proud of what they’ve already done to help. We’re still facing issues of water shortages, but it’s notable to think of how bad it could be without professionals putting in the work.

Looking to the future, clients in places that aren’t just California need to really think about responsible water usage. Even where it feels like water is plentiful, it’s important to help customers understand what small steps they can take today that will make a difference later on.

Contractors can be proud of what they’ve already done to help.

That’s part of why I really enjoyed working with the winner of our Changing the Landscape Awards: Irrigation category. The project he worked on, using a rebate program and a grant to replace hundreds of conventional irrigation controllers with weather-connected ones, started out not because he was on a mission to make a change. Instead, he decided in his own irrigation practice to try to help his customers get the most out of their systems, which included letting them know about available rebates for system upgrades through their local water district. One of the major reasons that the water district reached out to him to begin with was that they just kept seeing his invoices show up in the rebate programs, which led them to understand his drive as an irrigation professional. At the time, he couldn’t have known how much water he would be saving in his region over the next few years. He was just doing the work of helping that day’s appointment do what they could.

It’s great to be able to show a customer just how much water they’ll immediately save with a system upgrade. But irrigation professionals should also keep the long game in mind, taking one step at a time toward helping their communities manage water usage best.

As a quick reminder, make sure you’re registered for the upcoming Irrigation Show and Education Week, running Dec. 5-9 in Las Vegas. Find out more about the show at

Kyle Brown is editor-in-chief of Irrigation & Lighting magazine and can be reached via email.

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