Landscapers in Southern California’s Coachella Valley Water District (CVWD) will be required to obtain a new certification in order to renew their business licenses. Obtaining the certification will require the completion of a short online course focused on landscaping and irrigation best practices during drought.
In negotiations with the State Water Resources Control Board, CVWD agreed to offer the drought-related course in exchange for the state’s suspension of a $61,000 “civil liability” – a fine for all practical purposes. Coachella Valley was among four California water districts that failed to meet mandatory water conservation targets last year.
Heather Engel, director of communication and conservation for CVWD, said Wednesday that water district officials are working with area cities through the Coachella Valley Association of Governments, along with faculty from a local community college, in setting the curriculum for the course.
Officials expect to begin offering the course in late September, Engel said. It will be offered in English and in Spanish, she said. The course will be offered at no charge, and anyone who lacks access to a computer will be able to take the class using one of the community college’s computers.
Engel noted that CVWD has played host to educational sessions for landscapers regularly, through voluntary workshops or occasionally required seminars.
“Desert landscaping does require some training and expertise – understanding the plant needs and the soil needs – so we have focused on education for professional landscapers,” she said.
The new course will build on a landscape program adopted a few years ago by the Coachella Valley Association of Governments that focuses on landscape practices related to air quality.
Engel said she was unsure how much time the new course would require. “I doubt it would require more than a few hours,” she said.
The CVWD has yet to publicize the new required course, but Engel said the district will begin doing so soon. Because so many landscapers in the water district have participated in CVWD workshops or seminars in the past, she said, “we have that contact information and will be able to notify many of our professional landscapers directly” about the new requirement.