Standards & Codes in Irrigation By Brent Q. Mecham, CID, CLWM, CIC, CLIA, CAIS Why standards?

Standards are documents created by a group of experts who come to consensus and describe the minimum requirements for a product to be made or a testing procedure to verify product performance. Standards are voluntary compliance — unless someone chooses to make them mandatory in governing type documents such as codes, ordinances or laws.

How do standards affect irrigation?

Standards, which are consensus-based documents, are created both nationally and internationally. Where irrigation stan- dards exist, and if enforced by an agency or jurisdiction with authority, the irrigation products must comply.

Within the United States, American Nation- al Standards Institute is the recognized organization that has created the criteria by which standards are created. They es- tablish the procedures to which standard- developing organizations must comply,

26 Irrigation TODAY | July 2016

such as transparency, openness and repre- sentation of diverse stakeholders.

The International Organization for Stan- dardization establishes the procedures for standards that many countries use, and the European Committee for Standardization does the same for the European countries. Often the ISO and CEN standards are the same. All of this becomes very important when selling or exporting products to international markets.

How does the Irrigation Association participate?

IA is a member of ANSI and works with several standard developers. However, the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers is the chosen stan- dard developer that the IA works with when there is a need for irrigation-related standards. The IA has had a long-standing relationship with ASABE for more than 30 years. Many irrigation standards developed by ASABE were in response to requests from the IA and its members.

Additionally, IA participates in the ISO pro- cess and relies on the administrative exper- tise that ASABE has to administer the U.S. participation in developing standards for irrigation equipment and testing around the world. In the ISO process, each country has a vote, but experts for the various stan- dards work out the details through a multi- step process before the standard becomes established. IA helps provide the experts to represent the U.S. position, which ultimate- ly can affect U.S. manufacturers and their ability to compete in the global market.

What standards are currently being developed?

There have been a variety of standards (and codes) being worked on for both agriculture and landscape irrigation. While agriculture irrigation has been actively involved in the process for many years, the new arena that IA is paying particular attention to revolves around two main subject areas — sustainability and “big data.” While they may not seem connected at first, in many ways, they are.

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