A New Profession Emerges…..
About fifty years ago, a new profession began.
Landscape irrigation was just a fledgling industry prior to World War II. Following the war, the irrigation market increased dramatically with the growing number of middle class consumers. Simultaneously there was the introduction of newer, more affordable and easier to install products, making underground irrigation practical for a whole new group of consumers.
King Ewing, an irrigation visionary at the time, was working for Atlas Lawn Sprinkling Company in the San Francisco Bay area. Ewing saw great potential in the turf and landscape irrigation market and recognized the importance of both design and engineering as a tool to market irrigation systems. In 1948, he purchased the design and supply division of Atlas, eventually coming to be named Ewing Irrigation. The concept of offering free design as a marketing tactic and selling tool spread across the country and was the predominant model for many years.
In the late 1960’s, a small band of irrigation design practitioners, many of them previous employees of Ewing Irrigation started meeting to discuss the evolving profession of independent irrigation consulting. They recognized the need and potential for consulting services that focused on creating comprehensive, efficient and effective irrigation design solutions free from the conflict of interest that came with the designs provided by manufacturers, distributors and contractors. They also understood that creating comprehensive, efficient and effective design solutions required the skills of a dedicated design professional.
The American Society of Irrigation Consultants was formed in 1970 in part to create fundamental irrigation design standards, improve system efficiencies and eliminate water waste using the most effective combination of products available to address specific demands of each site. Its founding members understood the consequences and the real cost of improper irrigation and were committed to making the industry more accountable and professional.
Sophistication of system design and available equipment was also increasing at that time. The first computerized control system and two wire systems would be introduced to the marketplace a few years later. Concern about water use and water efficiency was evident with Buckner Industry’s “Spend Water Like Money” campaign in the early 1970’s.
The reality that water is a finite resource has put strong pressure and scrutiny on the irrigation industry. Water use efficiency is the new norm, but there is also mounting pressure that “brown is the new green.” As an industry we need to continue to improve system efficiencies—in the design, in the products used, in the proper installation and through managed system use and operation. And as an industry we need to continue to put forward a professional cohesive approach to respond to outside pressures to reduce or eliminate landscape irrigation.
Irrigation will continue to be under scrutiny by public agencies. ASIC has and will continue to work to influence the outcome of the coming regulations. And our professional members will continue to be on the forefront of designing, specifying and overseeing comprehensive irrigation solutions on many of the country’s highest profile projects.