I don’t believe that weather can be long-term forecasted with a high degree of accuracy. Still, if the past few years are any indication, I’d be willing to bet that some of you will be affected by drought this year.
Last year, when inadequate rainfall scorched large areas of the country, landscapers watched in frustration as panicked city and state officials enacted draconian watering restrictions to conserve dwindling water reserves. I’m convinced that Americans have a bad habit of over-reacting when a crisis hits. While some conservation was clearly in order, many of the local ordinances went way past common sense and hit landscapers in drought-afflicted areas exceptionally hard.
Many affected landscapers, like our Landscaper of the Year, Snow’s Garden and Landscape Center in Charlottesville, Virginia, (see Page 34) took the initiative and went to their local government to protest overbearing watering regulations. The government leaders were receptive to landscapers’ concerns, particularly when the economic impact of watering restrictions was made clear: Georgia landscapers and nurseries reported a 43 percent decrease in retail sales in one week alone in the wake of watering restrictions. Layoffs and a hit on the local economy weren’t far behind – two issues sure to catch the attention of even the most hostile politician.
Instead of waiting for a drought to hit and attempt to plead your case when passions are running high, why not take some time this winter, when things are relatively quiet, to sit down with your city or state representative? Talk to them about the negative economic impact severe watering restrictions have on your industry and the community as a whole. Suggest reasonable alternatives to help conserve water and offer your insights – and your industry’s expertise – to find win-win watering solutions should a drought occur in the future.
Building good relationships with legislators now – before a panic situation sets in – can pay big dividends by helping your business, your customers and your employees through a tough time in the not-too-distant future.