Selecting a Consultant

Irrigation Consultants:

Offering Valuable Knowledge & Expertise in Projects By Carol Colein

Professionals involved in the irrigation industry know that irrigation is often an afterthought in a project. Recent mandates have brought irrigation considerations and water use to the forefront when planning a project. The focus on responsible and defensible water use has put a new spotlight on irrigation as an integral part of a project.

Unfortunately, this is still not the norm. In many parts of the country, irrigation is still the tag-along amenity, often subject to budget cuts and low prioritization. Responsible and quality irrigation comes with an upfront cost that often needs explanation and defense.

Professional irrigation consultants are in the unique position to advocate for the industry in a way that others may not be able. As consultants, their role is that of an acknowledged expert and designated project team member. If they advocate for a more efficient and effective irrigation solution, often at a higher initial cost, they can do so without any conflict of interest.

The professional consultant passionately understands the need for efficient and effective irrigation and is in the position to communicate the value of irrigation and translate this zeal into actionable results.

As executive director of the American Society of Irrigation Consultants, I fully appreciate and understand the passion, concern and love of this industry exhibited by our professional members, although I am not convinced that the irrigation industry, including professional consultants, fully appreciate the role the consultant plays in the betterment of the industry.

Irrigation Consultant as a Profession

An irrigation consultant offers professional service that requires years of education, training and experience, as well as the ability to apply and clearly communicate knowledge on behalf of a client. They evaluate project needs and parameters, prepare appropriate design documentation and review construction work for

conformation to the project contract requirements.

This sounds rather mechanical; in reality, consulting is 50 percent heart and 50 percent technical, or perhaps even 60 percent heart and 40 percent technical. The driving force of a professional irrigation consultant is more than just providing a technically correct solution. Passion is an intangible but equally important element that is both powerful and real.

Client/Consultant Collaboration

Successful irrigation projects result from an informed client working closely with an irrigation consultant to clearly define and implement project irrigation requirements. The consultant and client work together to define project expectations, and the consultant then uses skill and experience to present thoughtful and effective solutions. Ideally, a trusted relationship between the client and irrigation consultant develops.

Professional irrigation consultants often work within the parameters of a long- term working relationship with a client spanning over several projects. Trust and understanding are cultivated, resulting in a productive and comfortable work environment. Friendships and close personal relationships often develop over the years, and for many consultants, this is one of the most rewarding aspects of their business.

Selecting the Right Consultant

When a client needs to hire an irrigation consultant for the first time or seek out a professional consultant with specific expertise, it is important to choose the best consultant for the project.

22 Irrigation TODAY | January 2017

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