News from: CVAG
Background: At the June 2019 meeting, the Energy & Environmental Resources Committee discussed a suggestion from the Coachella Valley Resource Conservation District (CVRCD) about developing an annual water conservation training session for landscape professionals. The CVRCD board members and staff will attend the September meeting to describe their activities and the goals of this proposed project. The Coachella Valley Resource Conservation District (CVRCD) assists public and private landowners in the protection and conservation of natural resources. They are a locally governed special district that works to provide Coachella Valley farmers, desert habitat managers, homeowners, landscape nursery managers, golf course superintendents and municipal land managers support with issues such as erosion control, habitat management, soils, irrigation, and conservation outreach. The CVRCD is independent and nonregulatory; the five board members are appointed by the Riverside County Board of Supervisors.
More information about CVRCD is available at https://www.cvrcd.com/. The concept introduced at the June meeting was for CVRCD to offer an annual, hands-on water conservation workshop for landscape professionals. The educational workshop would be free and would be presented by the CVRCD board and staff. The concept CVRCD has proposed is to offer basic training on how to reduce water loss in desert landscapes, including irrigation systems, soils, evapotranspiration, and equipment such as smart controllers. The intent would be to offer a workshop three to four times a year, at various locations to make it convenient for the landscape professionals. To provide a workshop that offers benefits to attendees, vendors would be invited to share products and information about irrigation equipment, smart controllers, soils information and other water efficiency measures, and potentially provide sponsorships. The workshops would be scheduled in the evening or other suitable time for working professionals, and conducted in English and Spanish.
Part of the concept proposed by CVRCD is to integrate the hands-on workshop with the existing water efficiency and conservation course and landscaper certification program that was launched in 2016, in partnership with Coachella Valley Water District and College of the Desert. CVAG member jurisdictions currently include the online water efficiency certification course as a requirement for landscape professionals, including landscape installers and landscape maintenance firms, before they can renew their business license. The CVRCD would like to explore the possibility of having the hands-on workshop be required.
In the discussion in June, E&E members expressed concerns about adding requirements for local businesses and the impacts this might have. Concerns involved the impact to small business, particularly “mom and pop” businesses that have limited staff and resources to attend a workshop, consistency in the landscaping and water conservation requirements in various jurisdictions, who would be subject to the requirement, and whether this is an effective way to achieve environmental goals. Suggestions made by E&E members included the need for outreach to landscapers and others in the landscape industry to get their feedback, clarification on who would be included in the requirement, involvement of local water districts, and outreach to the building industry (DVBA and BIA). Since the June meeting, CVRCD and CVAG staff have discussed the current online water conservation course sponsored by the Coachella Valley Water District that was originally established in order to satisfy requirements imposed by the State of California during the drought. CVWD staff expressed interest in the concept of offering a hands-on workshop to complement the online course. CVWD staff also discussed the idea of an in-person class with State Water Resources Control Board staff, including whether it could count toward the requirements they must meet. The staff person was supportive and indicated this would be within the compliance guidelines. The suggestion was made by CVRCD that the workshop could be offered as an alternative to the online course; it might be possible to offer the workshops in an alternating schedule so that any one business could participate in either the on-line course or a workshop in different years.
Representatives of the CVRCD will attend the September 12 meeting to provide some background on the Resource Conservation District and discuss this proposal. They are interested in hearing the concerns and suggestions from E & E members. As noted in June staff report, this proposed program is consistent with the E & E Committee’s goal to “collaborate with member jurisdictions and local agencies to achieve a valley-wide per capita water conservation goal of 30% by 2020.”
Fiscal Analysis: None. Information only.