Setting clear goals and measurable performance for water conservation at HOAs is the first step toward maximizing efficient watering. The best place to
establish water management processes and goals is in your landscape maintenance contract. The landscape maintenance contract is an agreement between
the HOA and the landscape contractor to perform the activities outlined in the scope of work. If this is done correctly your contractors should all
be bidding the same processes and goals. This enables the HOA to receive the best information for evaluating contractors. Below are seven items that
should be included in every HOA landscape contract.
- Contractor should review water usage on a monthly basis and report use to the board/management.
- Contractor should be Irrigation Association certified or certified by a state agency for Water Management. For example in California there is a certification for water management from the California
Landscape Contractors Association.
- Contractor should be required to monitor systems for leaks and sprinkler failures. Leaks are a huge water wasting issue and contractors should
regularly turn irrigation systems on to look for leaks and failures.
- Contractor shall regularly use a soil probe to measure soil moisture. This helps determine water waste on the property and help insure plants are
receiving the proper amount of water so your landscape looks its best.
- Yearly walks of the property shall be conducted with the local water agency and contractor. Water agencies are excellent resources for water savings.
Contractors and water agencies should work together to save water for HOAs.
- Contractor should be familiar with rebate programs. Rebate programs are offered around the U.S. They are often complicated and regularly
changing. Contractors need to stay informed about rebate programs to guide you to the best water saving technology.
- Contractor should have an allowance for “routine” improvements (verified by photographs and receipts). If contractors are given approval to repair
leaks or faulty equipment when they first observe a problem (set a limit of $500 or $1000) you will save money. If they can fix the problem
right away the water waste stops sooner and they don’t have to charge for multiple trips.
The burden of water conservation should be placed on the contractor not a homeowner association. This should include a plan for conserving water with a
recommended budget of improvements needed within 90 days of starting landscape maintenance work. This gives the contractor enough time to become familiar
with the strengths and weaknesses of the system before making recommendations. For HOAs water use is often one of the top three budget items.
Adding these items to your contract will lower your water cost. I am sure our readers might have some additional items to recommend and we’d love for
you to share them in the comments section. If you liked this article please consider following me on twitter @H2oTrends.