The Landscape Irrigation Association, formerly known as the TIA, was formed in 1983. From humble beginnings in Gauteng, it has become the nationally recognised mouthpiece of the landscape irrigation industry.
The primary objective of the Association is to improve and uphold professionalism and standards in the industry. To this end a comprehensive Code of Conduct and Code of Standards has been compiled. The standards are benchmarked against the best global standards and are continually expanded and updated to keep pace with technological advances in the industry.
The LIA Membership encompasses all spheres of the industry. These include irrigation contractors, irrigation distributors, landscape architects, piping and other irrigation equipment providers. Regular meetings are held, in which members are encouraged to participate and network with their peers in the industry. To facilitate an ongoing educational programme, specialists are invited to give presentations on various important aspects in the industry.
One of the major roles of the association is to promote consumer awareness of the LIA and the benefits that the public will gain by employing the services of one of its members. To this end the association has embarked on a national marketing campaign to reach the consumer and property developers. With the combined clout of all its regions the LIA is able to negotiate excellent advertising rates. Good relationships have been forged with the editors of the major publications and they reciprocate by providing the association with editorial
Water is a scarce resource and the LIA is committed to ensuring that its members design and install the most water efficient irrigation systems possible, thereby maximizing water conservation. Similarly energy conservation is of paramount importance, so attention is focused on the selection of the most efficient sprinklers, pipelines, valves and pumps for irrigation systems.
To achieve these objectives, it was apparent that the association’s members needed to be technically competent. Irrigation is an exact science and to attain the necessary levels of competency, the correct training had to be provided. In its formative years the association concentrated on the consolidation of sound engineering practices to formulate minimum standards for the industry. When the outline of the required subjects had been completed, the association investigated all avenues to provide the technical training for its members. Tertiary institutions that provided horticultural training gave minimal attention to landscape irrigation and were unable to provide the tuition that was required. Accordingly, the LIA established a course to promote and improve the standards of irrigation design for the industry. The first students enrolled in 1987.
The initial course catered for the design of residential and small commercial systems and in keeping with this focus it has become known as the Res – Com course. The syllabus has grown from year to year and now includes all facets of irrigation, including boreholes, filtration, fertigation, irrigation scheduling, rain harvesting and pumps. To date, over a thousand delegates have successfully completed this course.
In addition to the design aspect, a practical course was formulated. This course provides irrigation fitters with the knowledge and techniques to install quality irrigation systems. The emphasis is on imparting the “tricks of the trade” to the delegates and to achieve this, a “hands-on” approach is used. This course offers all the skills and techniques to install and maintain irrigation piping, sprinklers, filters and automatic valves used in irrigation systems.
To cater for the upper end of the market, i.e. large commercial, sports turf and golf course irrigation, an advanced design course was established. This course includes surveying, hydraulic analysis of ringmains, pump station design and central satellite control systems. The course demands a high standard of design and the emphasis is on technical perfection. Prospective candidates must have successfully completed the Res-Com course and have at least five years’ experience in the industry.
Upon completion of each course, the relevant certificate is issued to each successful candidate. To ensure that the standards of the industry are upheld, LIA principle members have to be certificated in the Res - Com course and have two of their sites inspected to confirm that these conform to the LIA standards. In the case of irrigation designers, in addition to their Res - Com certification, they have to submit four of their recent designs to determine whether these comply with the LIA’s design standards.
Most landscape architects, municipalities and specifiers now stipulate LIA certification as a pre-requisite for tendering.
A bi-annual Awards of Excellence program is held, in which the quality and expertise in design and installation of irrigation systems is showcased. The award categories allow all contractors to participate – from small townhouse gardens to pleasure resorts and hotel complexes.
To provide the necessary support and protection for the consumer, all members have to adhere to the Code of Conduct and Code of Standards. In the event of a dispute, a client has redress to the Association and, where necessary, a mediation process will ensure that the contractor / designer adheres to these standards.