Irrigation Advisory Council voted: Irrigation Systems are Health Hazard

I’ve just received my new 2017 TXIA Newsletter, Volume 42, Number 1. Some interesting news has been revealed on page 12. The IAC (Minutes, VII. a)), after much discussion, “motioned and passed through majority vote to make the recommendation to the Commission to classify landscape irrigation systems as health hazard (Ch344.1 (14).” It’s been talked about for years. I’m actually surprised it’s taken this long. The TCEQ already classifies irrigation as non-potable (Ch344.62 (n). This vote, if implemented by TCEQ, would mean that all new irrigation systems would get a reduced pressure principle (RPZ) device installed somewhere on the property. And it would have to be tested every year per Chapter 344.50 (c). Yes, there are backflow options in a health hazard scenario: an air gap, RPZ, pressure vacuum breaker, or atmospheric vacuum breaker. My bet is on the RPZ.

Right now, most irrigation systems have double check assemblies installed as the backflow device. Most of them were actually tested on the installation and they have never been tested again. My wild guess would be that half of them may not re-pass a backflow test if they are ten years or older, if they are even testable. Good luck finding them, too. A lot of them are covered with soil and grass. Or if you did find the box, the device would be covered with dirt, have no handles to use for testing, and clogged test cocks.

What’s really going to be interesting to watch is the new home builder installers response. They already get fussy when a city wants to add a rule that may cost them a few bucks on a job. This change, if fully implemented, will cost everyone a lot more money.  The rise in cost, in my opinion, is worth it. It’s just going to be a hard sell at first. Although, if we as irrigators look at all that is required for any kind of backflow device, it’s just the potential (Ch344.75) for a health hazard. As long as the facts and rules behind the move are fully visualized, it will become the standard practice. As it should have been all along.

If anyone wants more research on backflow they can also read through 290.44(h) Backflow, siphonage of the Rules and Regulations of the Public Water Systems.


Foundation watering.

I’ve got lots of customers asking me about foundation watering. I’ve done some research with peers installing drip systems around houses, conferring with foundation companies, and my experience.

I’m not a foundation expert or engineer. So, any opinion I have is mine and I ‘m happy to share it. If you have questions about your foundation I suggest calling a foundation company and maybe getting an evaluation. Some foundation companies do that for free. I recommend getting all the information you need before investing in any irrigation system, including a perimeter drip system. Keep in mind, as licensed irrigators we do not specialize in foundations although we get lots of questions in that regard. I have a foundation maintenance bulletin you can download from my links page. It’s got some helpful information on there.

There are lots of variables to consider before investing in a perimeter drip system: Existing soil level around house, soil type, plants/trees around the house, slope to/from the house, water rate from source, percolation rate in soil, existing water rate from sprinkler system, and daily weather conditions.

I think the most important conclusion I’ve come to from the questions I’ve asked is, no matter how balanced your moisture is around your house, your foundation can still shift. So, would a perimeter watering system help/save your foundation, maybe. Would it give you peace of mind, yes. If that is worth the investment, then have a watering system installed around your house.