Never underestimate the power of a united voice

December 11, 2012  - By

When the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) initially released its proposed guidelines for New Home Specifications back in July 2009, it proposed a 40 percent restriction on turfgrass for new single-family homes.

Turfgrass Producers International (TPI) was just one of many coalition partners, including the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), Irrigation Association, The Professional Landcare Network (PLANET), Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA), United States Golf Association (USGA), Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA), Project Evergreen and others who came together through the National Turfgrass Federation to address the issue. This group of more than 90 stakeholders was part of a groundswell that also included many other associations and companies that, collectively and independently, used their influence to address the EPA’s proposed restriction on turfgrass.

The EPA was encouraged to set aside its WaterSense landscape specifications (the proposed 40 percent restriction on turfgrass) until it:

• had a better understanding of the environmental benefits of turfgrass;
• had an opportunity to speak to knowledgeable Green Industry representatives;
• could engage the input and knowledge of leading turfgrass specialists;
• could take into consideration varying regional climate conditions based on the location of the landscape’s regional rainfall (example: Tucson’s average annual rainfall of 8 in. vs. Seattle’s average annual rainfall of 36 in.); and
• could fully consider the impact such restrictions would have on seed production, turfgrass producers, landscapers, manufacturers of lawn care equipment and lawn care sales as a whole.Thanks to numerous letter-writing campaigns to government representatives, meetings with congressional leaders, talks with industry representatives and countless submissions during the public comment period, the EPA got the message.In November 2011, the EPA announced a “Notice of Intent” to remove the 40 percent turfgrass restriction from the WaterSense single-family new home specification. Since that announcement, more than one year ago, turfgrass producers, Green Industry representatives and those in related businesses have been waiting for the final version of the EPA’s WaterSense New Home Specification (Version 1.1).

We are pleased to report that any reference to the 40 percent turfgrass restriction has been stricken from the guidelines, and Section 4.1.1 Landscape Design now reads: “Design of the landscaped area shall be developed using the WaterSense Water Budget Tool.”  The tool and “WaterSense Water Budget Approach” can be found at EPA.gov/watersense/water_budget.

Consideration on the part of the EPA to re-evaluate its position on turfgrass lawns for WaterSense new home qualification would not have materialized had it not been for the commitment, dedication and effort of numerous Green Industry associations and businesses that came together as a united voice. They are all to be congratulated.

Version 1.1 goes into effect Jan. 1, 2013.

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Turfgrass Producers International – TPI

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