NC Irrigation Contractors' 
Licensing Board Newsletter
August 2013
State of NC Seal
In This Issue
Investigators Needed
Legislation Update
Code of Ethics
Be Vigilant NOT a Vigilante!
Contractor Concerns
P.O. Box 41421
Raleigh, NC 27629-1421
919-872-1598 (fax)
Dr. Ronald Sneed, Board Chair
John Marmorato, Vice Chair
Dave Collins, Treasurer
David Williams, Secretary
Tina Simpson, Board Counsel
Michael Currin
Lindsey Griffin
Charles Allen
Ron Price
Maeneen Klein
Board Administrators
Barbara Geiger
Lisa Deubler
Meet the Board's
 Legal Counsel

Tina Simpson joined the Board's team a year ago and since that time has enjoyed contributing to the Board's mission of (1) promoting water conservation through the standardization of best practices and (2) providing a venue for consumer and public protection.

A "double tar heel", Tina graduated from UNC School of Law in 2008 where she served as Executive Editor for the North Carolina Journal of International Law and Commercial Regulation and as co-founder of the UNC International Law Organization. Prior to her position with the North Carolina Irrigation Contractors' Licensing Board, Tina represented the North Carolina Division of Medical Assistance, the State Department of Cultural Resources, and as counsel to various other state occupational licensing boards.

Tina currently serves on the Town of Chapel Hill's Board of Adjustment and on the council for the North Carolina Bar Association's Government & Public Sector Section and The Health Law Section. Please feel free to contact her at


Meet the Board's 

Chief Investigator


Bob Peter began his career in the green industry with 10 years in the design build field.  For the past 26 years he has been a licensed landscape architect in the Raleigh area.  His projects often include irrigation design and construction administration.  Bob was an original NCICLB Board member and was instrumental in developing the minimum standards for irrigation design.  Bob now serves as the Boards Chief Investigator.

Interesting Facts
As of September 1, 2013 there are:
* 1,020 Active Individual Licensees
* 598 Active Corporate Licenses
* 84 Individuals have been
          licensed by exam.
* 609 complaints have been                         submitted to date. 
 * 163 cases have been referred to                 the Department of Justice.
*  43 cases have been closed
          through settlement or
A complete legal update and details of settlements can be found on the nciclb website at
Administrative Reminders
*  Don't forget to complete your ten (10) hours of continuing education before the end of the year.
*  License renewal forms are mailed out around the beginning of October each year.  If you have not received your renewal form by November  1, call the Board office to request your renewal form.

*  Remember to always get a "proof of attendance" when attending any continuing education class and save them for the possibility of an audit.

*  Carry-over credits are no longer accepted.

*  Both the individual and corporate license must be renewed if your company is anything other than a sole proprietor.

*  If your Surety Bond expires and you change insurance companies, rather than renew the bond, you must send the Board office the
new original Bond and Bond form. The bond form can be found on the NCICLB website.

*  If any of your contact information changes you must notify the Board in writing.  

Investigators Needed


The Board employs investigators on a contract basis to look into and report on complaints of unlawful practice and minimum standard violations. Currently there is a need for additional investigators, particularly in the Outer Banks and Charlotte areas.  If you are interested or would like additional information, please contact Chief Investigator, Bob Peter at

The $2,500.00 Exemption A Narrow Exemption

NC General Statute � 89G-3 (5) Exemptions states:
"The provisions in this Chapter shall not apply to...Any irrigation construction or contracting work where the price of all contracts for labor, material, and other items for a given jobsite is less than two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500)."
This includes all costs for labor, material and other items related to the underlying system. When water is supplied by a water supplier, this includes the cost of (1) the second meter, where applicable, (2) the backflow device, (3) any separate booster pump, (4) any electrical parts and labor, as well as all other labor and materials for associate work such as sleeving.
Likewise, when rainwater is collected and stored for irrigation reuse, the parts and services required to install the collection and storage system are included in the project cost. For ground water on well systems, the price includes the cost of the well (when the well is installed for irrigation) pump, any electric contracting and labor, materials and other items required to install the irrigation system. For surface water supply (ponds and streams) irrigation systems, the price includes the pump and any electrical contracting and labor, materials and other items, including sleeving, required to install the irrigation system. The $2500 limit applies to the system regardless of how or by whom these additional items are paid for or  purchased. To be succinct, the $2,500.00 limit is a very narrow exemption, applying to the total lifetime retail cost of the system.

Legislation Update Backflow Assemblies 

and Installation 


The 2013 North Carolina General Assembly passed House Bill 662 which allows the Board of Examiners of Plumbing, Heating and Fire Sprinkler Contractors to issue a limited plumbing license for people not possessing a Class I or Class II Plumbing License to install, repair or replace two inch or smaller backflow assemblies to service irrigation systems. There are other components of HB 662. The Board of Examiners of Plumbing, Heating and Fire Sprinkler Contractors will need to implement the provisions of HB 662 to issue the Limited License. The Carolinas Irrigation Association (CIA) is working with the Board of Plumbing, Heating and Fire Sprinkler Contractors to implement the legislation. The NCICLB will notify licensed irrigation contractors when they can apply for the limited license. Until licensed irrigation contractors are properly licensed under HB 662, you cannot legally install backflow assemblies unless you possess a Class I or Class II Plumbing license. The limited license will be issued by the Board of Plumbing, Heating and Fire Sprinkler Contractors and will be enforced by that Board.

Exam Update


Since May 2009 the Board has offered the Licensing Exam at least quarterly. In 2012, the Board began to offer a North Carolina specific portion of the exam which deals with the  GS � 89G and Rules enacted as a portion of GS � 89G. The maximum points that can be earned from the North Carolina portion of the exam is 13.5. The score earned on the North Carolina portion is added to the score earned on the licensing exam if the individual has earned 60 or more on the main exam. Between the two tests an individual must score 70 to pass.  At the time that the North Carolina portion of the exam was introduced, the Board allowed anyone who had previously taken the licensing exam, and had obtained a score of at least 60 on the main exam, to take the North Carolina exam in the hopes of obtaining the minimum passing score of 70.  


Due to the re-opening of the Ten Year Grandfather portion for licensing, there have been few exams since early 2012. The next exam is scheduled is for November 15, 2013. Hopefully the number of candidates will increase. With the introduction of the North Carolina specific portion of the exam the passing rate now exceeds 50 percent. A number of candidates for the exam have stated that they thought they understood irrigation system design, installation, repair and maintenance, but by studying for the exam, they realized how much they did not know and the study has made them much better contractors.



Pledged to Professional Design, Installation, and Service,
this Code of Ethics has been adopted by the North Carolina Irrigation Contractors' Licensing Board to promote and 
maintain the highest standards of irrigation installation and conduct among its members.

We recognize the need to provide service in a professional manner and to deal with the public and our colleagues with integrity. We, therefore, agree to the following creed in fulfilling our obligations: 

* to follow Minimum Standards (MS) in irrigation design, installation, and service and to promote Best 
Management Practices (BMPs) adopted by the NCICLB
* to be environmentally responsible with design, installation, and service
* to adhere to local, state, and federal laws that apply to the irrigation industry
* to promote water conservation practices on a continual basis
* to support temporary measures for sensible water use during water shortages
* to maintain professional competence through annual continuing education
* to report violations of this Code of Ethics  
A Message from the Chair


The 2008 North Carolina General Assembly passed the Irrigation Contractors' Licensing Bill, known as North Carolina General Statute � 89G, with an effective date of January 1, 2009. Most licensees received their license under one of four Grandfather clauses: Ten years of verifiable irrigation experience prior to January 1, 2009; Registered Landscape Contractor prior to January 1, 2009; Licensed Plumber and an individual who possessed a Certified Irrigation Contractor (CIC) or Certified Irrigation Designer (CID) through the Irrigation Association (IA). In all cases  a valid application had to be received by Board Administration by June 29, 2009. The Grandfather clause for ten years of verifiable irrigation experience prior to January 1, 2009 was opened again for about 2.5 months in the Summer of 2012 by an amendment passed by the 2012 North Carolina General Assembly. From that amendment, 181 individuals were licensed. The 2013 North Carolina General Assembly passed Senate Bill 71 which amended portions of GS � 89G. The Governor has signed the Bill which will become effective October 1, 2013.


The goals of GS � 89G are conservation of water and energy, and protection of the general health and safety of the citizens of North Carolina. The Licensed Contractor should install the most efficient system possible, and train the operator to operate the system in the most water and energy efficient manner. Installing systems that meet the Minimum Standards will meet most of the criteria, and training the operator to operate the system in an efficient manner will ensure that water and energy are not wasted. All licensed contractors should be very familiar with, and install all systems following the Rules regarding minimum standards.


The Board has worked very hard to fairly, consistently and effectively enforce the provision of GS � 89G.  Maintaining a complete Board has been one of the many challenges. Two members of the original Board, Charles Nieman and Bob Peter, resigned prior to their term expiration. Mr. Charles Allen was named to fill Mr. Nieman's term and was not reappointed. His replacement resigned before ever attending a meeting. Mr. Allen was reappointed with an effective date of Friday, August 9, 2013 for a term expiring September 30, 2015. Ron Price was appointed to fill the position vacated by Mr. Peter. This position is appointed by the North Carolina Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects.  The term of Maeneen Klein will expire on September 30, 2013. As of this date a replacement has not been named. This position is filled by a nomination from the Governor. Three positions will be vacated on September 30, 2014 due to members serving the maximum of two full terms.


In addition to the Board and the Board investigators, there are two other very important groups who are vital to the success of administering GS � 89G. They are the Board Administrative Office and the Board Attorney. Since February 2009, Upton Associates has served as the Board Administrator. Their work is very important to the operation of the Board and the people assigned to work with the Licensing Board are dedicated to their work. Those of you who have called or visited the Board office know that the staff of Upton Associates is dedicated and competent.


From the passage of GS � 89G until January 2013, the Board relied on hourly staff from the North Carolina Department of Justice to provide legal assistance. In January 2013, the Board entered into a contract with the North Carolina Department of Justice to employ Tina Simpson as the Board Attorney for 30 hours per week. The Board conducted interviews with several competent attorneys, in the end selecting Ms. Simpson, who had previously worked as an hourly employee for the Board. The Board felt that her experience, personality and desire to work for the Board made her the logical choice to be the Board Attorney. Read more about Tina in this Newsletter.


Board meetings are open to the public and are announced in advance on the Board website. Most meetings are held in the Agronomic Building, 4100 Reedy Creek Road, Raleigh, NC, with a normal start time of 10 am. Meetings in January and August are normally held at the location of the Green and Growing Shows. If you have questions, concerns or suggestions please contact the Board office at 919-872-2229 or go to the Board website at

Complaints to Hearings

How does it work??


The Board is charged with the investigation and enforcement of alleged violations of the NC Irrigation Contractors' Licensing Law and rules regarding  minimum standards. Since January 1, 2013 the Board has received over 140 complaints.  The majority of these are for unlicensed practice and/or improper advertising, however some involve minimum standards violations by licensees.  All complaints are investigated and acted upon.  


As a professional industry,  NC Irrigation Contractors are self-policing.  The Board relies upon public complaints in order to enforce the licensure statute and rules governing minimum standards for the design, installation and maintenance of irrigation systems. It is every licensee's responsibility to report alleged violations to the Board.  Without this information, the Board is powerless when it comes to dealing with unlicensed practice and sub-standard irrigation work. 


Complaints must be in writing and include such evidence as is available to substantiate the complaint.  Complaints may be made on line; please visit the NCICLB website at:
to register a complaint.  While complaints may be submitted anonymously, it is helpful for the Chief Investigator to speak directly to the complainant in order to get a full picture of the alleged violation.  Please submit as much information as possible in order for the Board Investigators to adequately investigate the complaint. 



Unlicensed irrigation and minimum standard investigations begin upon receipt of the complaint.  After conducting initial research and mailing out a cease and desist letter to the alleged violator, Board staff refers the complaint  to the Chief Investigator, Bob Peter.  Bob assigns one of the Board's 29 investigators to the case.    The investigator reviews the case with Bob, talks with the owner and usually the contractor, reviews the work on site, determines the extent, if any, of the alleged violation, and submits a final report to the Board's deputized investigatory team which reviews the findings and takes action on all cases where the law has been breached, as authorized in NCGS �89 G.  This includes settlement fees, fines, correction of sub-standard work and/or improper advertising, and, in some instances, injunctions.


Complaints Resulting in Hearings

15 Common Causes


When the Board is unable to settle a complaint through a settlement agreement with a violator the Board will schedule a hearing. The Board had its first hearing in mid September 2012. Since that time, the Board has scheduled hearings for almost every meeting. Most hearings involve unlicensed practice or advertising by unlicensed companies. While there have been no hearings for failure to meet Minimum Standards, there has been an increase in the number of complaints involving Minimum Standard violations by licensees and homeowners as the public becomes more aware of the licensing law.  The Board adopted Rules in 2011 that specify the required minimum standards for irrigation construction and contracting. All licensed contractors received copies of the Rules in their handbook. The Rules are also available on the Board website. Common Minimum Standards violations include: Pipe not installed to a minimum depth of 12 inches; Valve boxes not a minimum diameter of 10 inches; Waterproof connectors not used; Mixing rotors and sprays on the same zone; Not installing pressure regulators and filters on microirrigation (drip)  systems; In some cases rotors, sprays and drip on the same zone; Zones with non uniform precipitation rates  in the same zone, normally because the same nozzle is used for full circle and part circle sprinklers; Sprinklers installed so that water is thrown on impervious surfaces; No Record drawings; No maintenance or operation plan; Rainfall sensors not installed and Zones that irrigate turf and landscape plants meaning that there is variable water requirement species on the same zone. Other common violations that occur are no separate water meter when the water purveyor requires a separate water meter and backflow assemblies not installed or backflow assemblies installed without a permit. While the irrigation contractor is normally not installing either of these devices, the contractor should ensure that the proper device is installed.


Unlicensed Practice


We are all aware of the fact that four years after the NC Irrigation Contractors' Licensing Law was initiated, the practice of irrigation construction and contracting by unlicensed individuals remains a problem.  While we lack specific data regarding the number of individuals practicing irrigation construction without a license or otherwise advertising in a manner implying such licensure, it is fair to say that there are likely many more unlicensed irrigation contractors than licensed.  The unlawful practice of irrigation construction and/or contracting jeopardizes the professionalism of this industry and the proliferation and standardization of best practices to protect water resources, the public, and the consumer.


If you see unlawful practice, please report it. 

The Legal Process on Unlawful or Unlicensed Practice

Tina Simpson in Action!


After the complaint, investigation and final report, what happens?  This is where the Board's legal counsel, Tina Simpson, steps in.


When the Board's deputized investigative team determines that there is sufficient evidence to support a complaint, Tina issues a formal Notice of Violation to the identified parties.  This identifies the number and nature of the allegations as well as the Board's authority to take disciplinary measures if substantiated.  Given the fact that, at present, the majority of submitted complaints involve unlicensed practice, the Board's power to assess civil penalties up to $2,000 for each substantiated violation, remains the primary tool for enforcement.


When possible the Board seeks to resolve these disputes by settlement (in keeping with N.C. Gen. Stat. �150B-22).  The settlement sought is individual to the facts of each case and may involve payment of a specified amount*, entry of an injunction against an individual or company, agreement to take the exam or obtain additional continuing education

courses, and, where applicable, correction of any deviations for minimum standards to the subject system.  All settlements also provide a strong foundation for future prosecution in the event of further violation.


Where settlement is not possible, Tina issues a notice of hearing to the Respondent, and the Board conducts a full disciplinary hearing during its next regularly constituted Board meeting.  Tina serves as "the prosecution" in these proceedings, presenting evidence of the alleged violations through the testimony of witnesses, Board records, and reference to relevant state rules and local ordinances.


Over the last year the Board has (in keeping with the shift from its early objective of "getting the word out" through outreach and education to greater legal enforcement) seen a great upsurge in these proceedings.   The Board has issued over fifteen such notices and assessed $29,200.00 in civil penalties*.  These proceedings are expensive, in terms of time and expenditure, for the Board. Prior to recent legislative action, the Board had no means to recover those costs  - or otherwise sustain the sort of long-term investment needed to consistently, fairly and aggressively enforce the statute. The Board is pleased to receive authority to charge Respondents with the costs of these investigations and proceedings by recent legislative action.  This statutory amendment provides the Board with an important tool to ensure fair and responsive enforcement of the licensure statute.

Be Vigilant NOT a Vigilante!


Issues of concern have surfaced in the last few months that the Board would like to address. There have been several cases where licensed contractors appear to be harassing other licensed contractors who may have previously been violators or potential violators. The Board has also received calls regarding licensed contractors harassing unlicensed contractors.  If a potential violation is noted, a complaint should be made directly to the Board. No one should ever confront another individual.  


A more serious issue is the case of a licensed contractor approaching another contractor or installer and falsely telling them they are a Board Investigator. All Board Investigators are properly credentialed, they have identification and conduct all investigations in a thorough and professional manner.


A third concern is allegations of licensed contractors "leasing" their license. One of the Rules of GS � 89G is that a licensed contractor is to be in direct supervision of an irrigation installation. While this may not mean that the licensed individual is on the job site at all times, it does require actual supervision and control over the the design, equipment selection, and installation in accordance with Minimum Standards.  A licensed contractor found guilty of violating direct supervision or lending their license may face disciplinary action, to include penalties, license suspension, probation, other restrictions placed on the license or forfeiture of the license.


The Board encourages licensed contractors to submit complaints. When doing so, please provide as much information as possible. Try to ascertain if the company doing the work is licensed. Provide a correct address. Indicate the nature of the violation.  An increase of complaints are being received from property owners as the public is made more aware of the licensing law and governing minimum standards. Help get the word out!

Concerns Expressed by Licensed 

Contractors Addressed


This part of the newsletter comes from comments gathered by and from John Deere Landscape branch managers and contractors. A JDL manager shared these with the Board at a recent meeting. The Board appreciates the effort expended by JDL and invites other irrigation supply houses to get involved with similar activities. The Board invites other supply houses to request a time to visit the Board and share any thoughts they may have on how to make GS � 89G more effective. 

Some licensed contractors feel that there is little or no enforcement of GS � 89G. Contractors are invited to visit the Board website, and under the heading "Laws and Enforcement", click on the "Legal Summary" for a list of recent enforcement action and individuals and firms where legal action has occurred. The Board takes every complaint seriously, and where adequate evidence is available, rigorously pursues alleged violations. Many complaints relate to advertising and generally the offender will remove references to "irrigation" from their advertising or from their name and will receive a warning letter. Cases that cannot be closed with a simple warning or a Settlement normally go to hearing. Details of the hearings process and what happens afterwards can be found in another section of this newsletter.

Contractors are concerned that most municipalities do not have an irrigation permit process. The Board has no authority to require a government entity to implement a permit process. Each municipality has its own rules which vary from town to town. For example, some municipalities require separate water meters for all new irrigation systems. Some will only allow reduced pressure backflow assemblies; others will allow double check valve backflow assemblies. Some municipalities require permits for backflow assemblies and others do not. It is helpful if our licensed contractors interact with their local officials to make sure they are informed regarding the Licensing Law, and that "It is The Law" posters are posted in all the permitting and inspection offices. The Board office has these posters and will send as many as needed at no charge. Explain to local officials that your company is trying to install the most energy and water efficient irrigation systems and we need their help in promoting quality irrigation installations. 

Some contractors question how license and renewal fees are spent. The Board's major expenditures are for Administrative support, which is provided by Upton Associates; Legal support, which is provided by the North Carolina Department of Justice; Investigative support, provided by part time investigators who are, (except for the Chief Investigator), licensed contractors. Investigators are paid by the hour, plus travel expenses. Another expense is the Board member per diem of $100 per day for Board meetings and additional travel expense. Board meetings are held monthly. There are miscellaneous administrative expenses such as postage, copying, telephone, fax and website hosting. It is estimated that all expenses for Board operation will exceed $200,000, for 2013. No North Carolina State Funds are provided for Board operation. The Board is totally dependent on licensing and renewal fees to cover all expenses.

Board Investigators


In 2009, the Board contracted some 25 licensed irrigation contractors to serve as part time Board Investigators. Other individuals have been contracted since that time and some of the original investigators are no longer employed. The Board is always looking for investigators in certain areas of the state. Annual training is conducted by the Board Attorney, Board members and investigators from other Licensing Boards.


In November 2012, the Board, after lengthy discussion, employed Bob Peter, Landscape Architect with considerable irrigation background, and a former Board member, to serve as a part time Chief Investigator. His role is to work with the Board Administrator, Board Attorney, Board Chair and with all field investigators. Bob assigns all investigations, talks to investigators on a regular basis, does some field investigations, reviews all investigator reports and makes recommendations on the disposition of all  complaints. Bob has also reworked the investigator reporting form to ensure that appropriate information is gathered.


Each investigator has official identification and when visiting a site or communicating with someone, they identify themselves as an investigator for the North Carolina Irrigation Contractors' Licensing Board. They conduct all investigations in a thorough and professional manner and gather as much information as possible when visiting a site. They may also deliver a Cease and Desist Letter. They attempt to talk to the person against whom the complaint was made, the property owner, if possible, the General Contractor or a representative of the General Contractor. They determine whether a separate water meter is installed, if required, whether the proper backflow assembly is installed, who obtained the permit or if a permit was obtained, the system components and if all Minimum Standards are met. There are times they cannot obtain all necessary information because the property owner or installer (contractor) is not cooperative.

If an unlicensed installer is involved, efforts are made to stop the unlicensed installer from completing the job and having the owner contract with a licensed contractor. This is not always possible because the owner or the General Contractor is not cooperative. If someone contacts you and says they are a Board Investigator and does not have the proper credentials, please contact the Board office. The Board Investigators are a key resource in ensuring that GS � 89G is being properly administered and they deserve the support of all licensed contractors. Board Investigators do not look for violations. They conduct investigations when one is assigned. They may see a violation in the normal course of their daily work and they are free to submit complaints to the Board when they see a violation, but normall
y they will not be assigned that investigation. The Board does not have the resources to look for violations. When complaints are received, normally by email, the person against whom the complaint is made receives a Cease and Desist Letter. Advertising complaints are normally not assigned to an investigator. These are handled in house by the Board Administrator or Chief Investigator. A complaint involving unlicensed practice or Minimum Standards is normally assigned to an investigator. In all cases a Cease and Desist Letter is sent.