One of the biggest considerations here at IMARK as we search, secure and introduce new suppliers and new members to the expanded verticals of Irrigation, PVF and Waterworks is where we get the right products, from the best suppliers, and the proper mix of members to support our mutual initiatives. It is important to all of us that we do all we can to support both suppliers and members in order to help them obtain the highest return on investment, reach their sales goals and grow market share.
Water use for agriculture in California is estimated to be 80% of the total amount of water used in the state. Other states in the west have similar percentages. For example, 85% of the water used in Utah is for agriculture, in Arizona it’s 74%, in New Mexico it’s 80% and in Colorado it’s 89%. Yet, with all this water used for agriculture, most of the water conservation and sustainability programs we are seeing come out are for landscape irrigation.
The landscape industry will do its part to conserve, but even if the landscape irrigation went to zero, the water issue wouldn’t be solved. Wasting water is an issue for the country and there is tremendous pressure being placed on the landscape industry right now.
At IMARK Irrigation, we have gained several new members whose knowledge of product lines, categories and market needs brings focus to the suppliers with which we look to partner. IMARK Irrigation members understand the big picture, and the finer points, that no other distributors can match. Additionally, at IMARK we have introduced new suppliers that focus on drip irrigation, smart controllers and artificial turf that contribute to the focus on water conservation.
We as an industry need to make sure we are all pitching in and doing our part. I urge all of you in the industry to join the Irrigation Association and learn about what it’s doing for water management. Get involved in your local contractors’ association or property management association to stay informed and learn about new opportunities to grow your business. Water shortages and higher energy costs are real and part of solving the problem is to lead the industry and others to find better and more ways to conserve.
As a new vertical inside IMARK, we are looking to expand the number of industrial suppliers and pure PVF distributors/members. Many of our existing partners and members have been very helpful in submitting names for us to consider. As we grow, we look to offer opportunities to meet with like peers and gain new ideas at IMARK annual meetings, regional industry conferences and conventions, while helping IMARK PVF members stay on top of the newest developments in the industry. We joined the PVF Roundtable in 2022 and regularly attend their quarterly meetings for the purpose of networking and recruiting new members and suppliers. In publications like IMARK Today, published four times a year, we will look to add and feature the timeliest issues in our industry, takeaways from our annual meetings and in-depth articles that promote our member and supplier partners. Please make us aware of important dates and stories about your companies. As a wrap up, I want to thank Corey Lowsky of Merfish United for the recent invitation for Ted Havel and me to visit and tour the Ipswich, Massachusetts-based Merfish United facility.
Corey shared company news of a new and expanded Houston pipe yard coming online in the first quarter of 2023 and the future planned expansion into the Pacific Northwest, an area targeted for market growth in late 2023. I encourage and invite all of our existing PVF members and suppliers to let me know of others in this vertical that would be good prospects for us to explore.
The U.S. population is growing and the climate is changing, yet the water systems Americans depend on have remained mostly unchanged for more than a century. While big water infrastructure elements have always been built to last—be it the Hoover Dam, the irrigation canals of the Rio Grande or the cast iron pipes of cities everywhere from years gone by—every technology has a lifespan. At a certain point, it needs to be repaired, replaced or reconsidered. There is a tremendous amount of infrastructure in this country that is aging. The problems presented by an ancient water infrastructure, such as lead in the pipes that carry drinking water into people’s homes, is of concern to many. This applies in terms of the human cost if pipes are not maintained and replaced, as the water crisis in Flint, Michigan famously exposed, and also in terms of financial costs. A report by the American Water Works Association estimated that 15-22 million people in the United States are served by about 5.5-7.1 million water service lines—the pipes that deliver water from the municipal main or transmission line into individual homes—that are made of or contain lead. The group projected that replacing just those leaded service lines could cost more than $30 billion.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, H.R. 3684, signed into law on Nov. 15, 2021, allocated $55 billion to water infrastructure and an additional $6.6 billion to western water storage. The $55 billion figure specifically included $11.4 billion each for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, plus additional funds for those efforts to specifically address contaminants like per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances and lead. Despite being signed, the question of how those funds will ultimately be distributed remains.
IMARK Waterworks suppliers and members understand that there is nothing more important than water, and yet, because people are so accustomed to receiving water service at home, they don’t recognize the everyday miracle that it really is.
We are actively looking for additional members and suppliers in this vertical, as we realize there will be enormous amounts of time, energy and resources put into place to address the issues our society will face in the coming days, months and years.