Irrigation Training Offers a Solution Amidst Regional Water Shortages
Regional Irrigation Manager James Carr & His Teams Fight Drought with Knowledge
Irrigation can sometimes feel out-of-sight, out-of-mind; after all, the lion’s share of your system is underground. But for our irrigation specialists, water management is something they live and breathe, even in the winter months. They know their jobs are crucial to addressing the Southwest’s persistent drought, a task that requires year-round attention. See how Regional Irrigation Manager James Carr and his teams tackle it head-on.
Wintertime is the Right Time to Improve Irrigation
It’s the first week of the new year, and while most of us are still in a post-holiday lull, James is in California. Given the mild temperatures, few people are thinking about droughts, but for James and our Orange County irrigation technicians and client service teams, it’s very much top of mind. They’re in the midst of a deep dive field training on Preventative Maintenance Irrigation Inspections, fine-tuning how to catch problems before they require costly repairs.
Though it may seem counterintuitive, winter is the best time to improve irrigation systems. No one wants their irrigation system offline for repairs in the heat of summer. That’s why the teams are hitting the ground running. Not long after, James is off to Las Vegas, then San Diego to run the same training with teams there. James calls it “keeping the pedal to the metal.” There’s no off-season in irrigation.
It Takes a Village
Over the years, irrigation has become higher tech and advancements in water management have created the need for specialists. Yet while the drought problem is universal, the knowledge of how to address it is not. Sharing information is critical.
That brings James to the Arizona Landscape Contractors Association, where he teaches an irrigation training for 50 individuals. They’ve come from landscape companies throughout Arizona.
“All have the goal of raising the bar for our industry and achieving better water management skills,” he said.
James isn’t just leading the class, he’s leading change. He’s a certified board member for the Irrigation Association Certification Board. He also serves as Co-Director of Education and sits on the Board of Directors for the Arizona Landscape Contractors Association (ALCA). What he’ll teach in his class he’s successfully put into practice himself. In 2021, he accepted an Outstanding Landscape Contractor of the Year award from the ALCA.
Starting on the Right Foot
With summer approaching, James keeps “the pedal to the metal.” To prepare for spring, he lead a series of intense, 3-day trainings throughout the southwest region with a focus on spring start-ups. Spring start-up refers to the process of de-winterizing an irrigation system. Since irrigation represents a significant investment for many clients, it’s important the system is maintained properly to ensure its longevity. Breaks and leaks aren’t just costly for the client if not caught soon enough, they can also exacerbate drought conditions.
In this section of the training, irrigation specialists are huddled over their phones, studying intently the content on their screens. While it might look like they’ve found something more interesting than their training, they’re actually wrapped-up in researching the ET-- evapotranspiration-- rates for their area. Evapotranspiration refers to how quickly water moves from the earth’s surface into the atmosphere. They use this information to build irrigation schedules for their clients. James, meanwhile, is excited for those clients.
“They’re in good hands!” he said proudly, before enthusing about the magic of smart controllers. “If you don’t understand the magic behind them, you’ll never fully appreciate the efficient tool that they are!” Thanks to James and his team, it’s safe to say a lot more people appreciate that magic. And while they may not actually be magicians who can singlehandedly make drought conditions disappear, they’re doing a lot behind the scenes to make them smaller.