Legislative Update

IA President Jay Robbins and IA CEO Deborah Hamlin in front of the West Wing of the White House

The Irrigation Association continues to focus on influencing the national and state policy debate by promoting efficient irrigation. Throughout 2016, the IA has engaged in ongoing conversations about water-use and has worked to promote incentives for efficient technologies. The irriga- tion industry can offer unique solutions to current policy issues and IA is focused on maintaining relationships with stakeholders in the broader agriculture and landscape industries to advance irrigation industry priorities.


California Governor Jerry Brown issued an executive order to build on the temporary statewide emergency water restrictions issued in 2015. Governor Brown intends to move beyond these emergency drought measures by making permanent water use changes. IA is supportive of measures that promote water use efficiency and will continue to push for non-prescriptive measures that incentivize water-efficient technologies and promote innovation.

In late March, the White House also released its Long-Term Drought Resilience Federal Ac- tion Plan of the National Drought Resilience Partnership. As many of the recommenda- tions in this plan affect the irrigation indus- try, IA President Jay Robbins, along with CEO Deborah Hamlin, and Government and Public Affairs Director John Farner, met with staff from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to discuss how efficient irrigation should be a pri- mary focus in this plan. Focusing on both irrigated agriculture and turf/landscape irrigation, Robbins, Hamlin and Farner advocated that the efficient technologies and expertise that IA members possess can not only increase the yield of the crops and plants being grown, but also promote water conservation and quality in doing so.

WaterSense Authorization

Since its inception in 2006, WaterSense has raised awareness about the importance of water efficiency. Congressional autho- rization would bring greater permanency to the successful program and allow for

the better promotion of efficient irrigation technologies and practices. IA collaborat- ed with the EPA to create this voluntary program and as the first and longest- serving certifying partner of WaterSense, IA is pleased to see bills in the House and Senate include program authorization language.

Most recently, WaterSense authorization was included in S. 2848, the Water Re- sources Development Act of 2016. Earlier this year, authorization of this successful program was also included as a bipartisan amendment in the Senate’s Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2016 (S. 2012). The program authorization language includ- ed in this bill is similar to the WaterSense amendment included in the House energy bill (H.R. 8) that passed in December of 2015.

State Activities

So far this year, the IA has worked to strengthen the voice of the industry by promoting professional irrigation contrac- tors before state legislators, regulators and stakeholders. The IA believes that the li- censing of landscape irrigation profession- als is one way to ensure proper practices and training in the industry. As more and more policymakers continue to grapple with issues around limited water resources, it is important that there is an understand- ing of how qualified irrigation professionals can help ensure water-efficient irrigation systems are installed and maintained.

On February 24, IA members Lindsay, Reinke, T-L and Valley, hosted an agricul-

tural irrigation briefing at the Nebraska legislature, focusing on the importance of agricultural irrigation to Nebraska. Draw- ing approximately 20 members of the Nebraska Senate, the briefing was led by IA’s Government and Public Affairs Director John Farner, specifically focusing on the use of efficient irrigation throughout the state regarding food production and water use. After the presentation and a question and answer period with the members of the Senate, representatives from the four companies, along with IA’s CEO Deborah Hamlin and John Farner, attended a private meeting with Nebraska’s Governor Pete Ricketts.

On April 27, the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado, in partnership with the Irrigation Association, hosted Landscape Irrigation Day at the Colorado State Capitol. Surrounded by irrigation technologies, ALCC’s Executive Director Kristen Fefes and IA’s Government and Public Affairs Director John Farner spoke to members of the Colorado Legislature about the important role efficient land- scape irrigation plays in a sustainable water management plan.

Governor Hickenlooper released the Colorado Water Plan in November of 2015. In this plan, both the ALCC and the IA are named as partners with the Colorado state government in promoting efficient land- scape irrigation technologies and services, as well as educating the workforce, general public, legislators and regulators about the latest technologies and best manage- ment practices to promote conservation through efficiency. 13

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