My dad refuses to buy bottled water. It's not that he doesn't see the convenience of it or wouldn't appreciate the taste. For him, it's the principle of the thing. When he comes to visit and sees our refrigerator stocked with bottles of water, he stands there with the door open and shakes his head incredulously (every time) and says he never thought he'd live to see the day when a gallon of water would cost more than a gallon of gasoline. And (pause for effect) that someone would actually buy it. I don't waste time defending my purchase because any defense wouldn't change his mind (it keeps me from reaching in the fridge and retrieving a pop, for example, and I've grown accustomed to the taste); he would point out that I could grab one of the glasses from my cabinet and get water from the tap for a fraction of the cost. The insinuation: that I'm not being frugal enough. Guilty as charged. I'm not. But not in the same way he means. I'm not frugal enough with water, and most other Americans aren't, either.

Even though water has long been used in tandem with the word “conservation,” I'm not sure the general population understands the importance of water conservation because they view water as an unlimited resource. Even growing up in Texas where we had our share of water restrictions, I'm not sure I understood the concept of conservation (despite the annual water conservation poster contests required in school — no wonder I never won) or why it is important until much later. It's especially important in the green industry, which is nearly always impacted first by water restrictions.

Thankfully, irrigation system manufacturers have taken a proactive approach to stress the importance of efficient water use in our industry. The concept: Equipment that uses water more efficiently is the first step to conservation. The second step: training those who design and install irrigation to maximize water use. I learned a lot more about how serious they are about water conservation when I was invited by Rain Bird to attend one of its irrigation academies last month in Kansas City. This week-long “training camp” offered classes in all aspects of irrigation, installation and wise water management. It also offered a prep class for the Certified Irrigation Contractor exam, and attendees who registered with the Irrigation Association could take the exam at the end of the week. After sitting in on the prep class, I can testify that any irrigation contractor who successfully earns this certification is an expert in efficient water use — and has also earned the respect of this math-deficient editor. I salute you, not only for seeing the importance of professional training and certification, but also for dedicating yourselves to water conservation by learning how to do things the right way. I also commend the Irrigation Association and irrigation component manufacturers for making training available and emphasizing water conservation.

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