The Irrigation Association

As a voice of the irrigation industry, the Irrigation Association's (IA) membership comprises a cross-section of the industry, including irrigation contractors and designers, manufacturers, distributors and dealers. The association is 50 years old with 1,100 members in the United States and abroad. With three primary areas of focus (landscape and turf, agriculture and golf-course irrigation), the IA offers its membership legislative representation, certification, education and communication.

Specifically, these target areas involve the following: * Legislative. IA offers legislative consultants for work on federal, state and local issues. * Certification. IA certifies, tests and evaluates the capabilities of irrigation designers, contractors and certified landscape-irrigation auditors. In addition, IA recently began certifying agricultural-irrigation technicians. *Education. Increasing from 4 to 18 classes during the past 3 years, IA certification is comprehensive. Classes include managing irrigation contracting, business, irrigation contracting, and irrigation "summer camp" where you learn how to install an irrigation system. Held mainly from November to March at locations throughout the country, educational seminars exist with the help of IA local-affiliate associations. *Communication. IA publishes a magazine-Irrigation Business & Technology-and maintains a web site (www.irrig-gate.com) that deals with the association and the industry as a whole. The web site is a search engine for irrigation and related topics. IA is a resource for irrigation information consisting of newsletters and common-interest groups that provide opportunities for contractors or manufacturers' representatives to come together to talk about their particular concerns.

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The IA serves as a unified industry voice on issues related to regulation of irrigation use. One such issue is that of reclaimed water use. According to Thomas H. Kimmell, executive director of IA, "We are trying to come to a national policy on reclaimed water. We think it is desirable to the industry, but you cannot just mandate its use. Government has to make it available. This probably is not the biggest issue we (the association) face, but it is the biggest issue that does not have a logical answer. There is no more water than there has ever been or ever will be. We only use a small portion of it, but, unfortunately, every time you use it, it changes. That's why we want to come up with a national policy to legislate its use."

Two other important topics to IA are credible certification of irrigation personnel and national standards. Kimmell states, "We do not set standards, but we are the United States representative-along with the American Society of Agricultural Engineers-of international standards concerning irrigation. Our certification has now been adopted by the state of New Jersey for state irrigation contracting license." He continues, "Only three states currently have licensing-Texas, New Jersey and Connecticut. We are talking to other states about adopting similar certification programs. We even work with the American Society of Irrigation Consultants (ASIC) and the Golf Course Superintendent Association of America (GCSAA) about topics of similar interest."

With approximately 2,500 people obtaining certification through its programs since 1982 (when the certification process began), IA strives to accomplish two certification objectives: To create a demand for certification and to market certification to the consumer. With certification, IA also offers access to its certified-personnel network directories and an internet search engine of certified members.

Keeping abreast of current technology, offering up-to-date certification opportunities, striving for legislative action and keeping lines of communication open are helping IA become a leading force in the industry. With specific, targeted goals, IA membership will continue to strive for national standards and practices throughout the country.

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