Water Efficiency Watch

News from the Alliance for Water Efficiency


Water Efficiency Watch is the online newsletter of the Alliance for Water Efficiency, edited by Peter Mayer.  Like and follow AWE on Facebook and Twitter for a chance to win an iPod Touch! For residential water use information and water saving tips visit Home Water Works.

In this issue of Water Efficiency Watch...

Alliance for Water Efficiency Celebrates 5th Anniversary

AWE 5 Yr LogoOn July 1, 2007 the Alliance for Water Efficiency was brought into existence by a coalition of water utility, private sector, and non-profit stakeholders.  Over the past five years, AWE has emerged as North America’s leading voice for water efficiency, and has achieved a remarkable amount in a very short time.  AWE’s accomplishments over the past five years include:

  1. Testifying twice before Congress:  Once in support of WaterSense, and once regarding the water-energy connection.
  2. Presentation before the 2011 International Water Forum at the United Nations.
  3. Participation in the US Green Building Council’s Water Efficiency Technical Advisory group, which led to a LEED 2009 standard set at 20% reduction of baseline for water efficiency before any points can be awarded. 
  4. Reaching out to the water efficiency and water policy community with over a hundred speaking engagements.
  5. Creating the AWE web site and resource library and providing technical support to AWE members.
  6. Home Water Works web site and Water Calculator for consumers across North America.
  7. Developing the Water Conservation Tracking Tool and distributing it to over 260 registered users.
  8. Publication of major water efficiency research reports:  Water-Energy Blueprint Report; Water Efficiency and Jobs Report; and the Water Efficiency State Scorecard Report.
  9. Organizing the Rates and Revenue Summit in 2012.
  10. Producing 38 issues of the Water Efficiency Watch on-line newsletter.

The Alliance for Water Efficiency exists because of the generosity of our members and donors.  Please help AWE continue this important policy and program work.

Saving Water Saves Energy, AWE Tells Senate Committee 

MADTestimony2120725Water efficiency should be further promoted at the federal level to help secure a more sustainable water and energy future.  This is the core message delivered to the Water and Power Subcommittee of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on July 25 by AWE President and CEO Mary Ann Dickinson.

Dickinson’s testimony highlighted the documented energy savings achieved through water conservation and stressed the need for expanded water efficiency research and customer incentive programs.

“Virtually no federal money has been allocated for dedicated water efficiency programs,” Dickinson told the Senate committee in Washington, D.C.  “We strongly recommend that national incentives be enacted for water efficiency programs… because of the clear embedded  energy benefits that this investment would provide.”

Read the complete text of AWE’s Senate testimony here.

Showerhead Enforcement Backtrack Not Included in Senate Bill

multi-shower-headAn attempt to stifle US Department of Energy enforcement of showerhead water efficiency standards did not make it into the Senate’s version of the Energy Appropriations Bill.  It still could be added as an amendment, so the supporters of showerhead water efficiency must remain vigilant.

The amendment effectively prohibiting any enforcement against illegal high-flow showerheads being manufactured or imported into the US was proposed by Congressman David Schweikert of Arizona, and then passed in the US House of Representatives in a late night vote on HR 5325,  the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2013.  

Schweikert’s comments on the House floor enraged water efficiency advocates as he boasted about removing the flow restrictor from his own showerhead and he indicated that he proposed the amendment because a showerhead manufacturer/importer in his district had received a DOE fine for non-compliance.

The Senate version of this bill (S 2465) was approved and reported out by the Senate Appropriations Committee on April 26th. It is in line to be scheduled for floor consideration, but no date has been set by the Senate leadership. While it is unlikely that the Schweikert amendment will be added to the Senate bill, anything can happen in the Senate-House Conference Committee. The onus will be on supporters of the showerhead rules to remove Schweikert’s amendment from the House bill during the conference committee process.  

Scientists Link Recent Extreme Heat and Human-Induced Climate Change

Hot-earth"Our analysis shows that it is no longer enough to say that global warming will increase the likelihood of extreme weather and to repeat the caveat that no individual weather event can be directly linked to climate change," writes NASA climatologist James Hansen in a recent Washington Post op-ed. "To the contrary, our analysis shows that, for the extreme hot weather of the recent past, there is virtually no explanation other than climate change."

Extreme heat like the US has experienced in 2012 was extremely uncommon just 30 years ago.  Between 1951 and 1980, just 0.2 percent of Earth's land areas experienced a scorching summer (like 2012), on average. Today, 10 percent of land areas experience this type of heat, according to Hansen's statistical analysis of global temperature data.  Hansen also asserts that the likely cause is man-made climate change.

"We can state, with a high degree of confidence, that extreme anomalies such as those in Texas and Oklahoma in 2011 and Moscow in 2010 were a consequence of global warming because their likelihood in the absence of global warming was exceedingly small," Hansen and his co-authors wrote in a study that will be published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Learn more here.

Colorado River Basin “90 by 20” Campaign Launched

90-by-20A new residential water efficiency campaign hopes to reduce water use to 90 gallons per capita per day by the year 2020 in the Colorado River Basin.  The “90 by 20” campaign is a project of Western Resource Advocates and the Colorado Environmental Coalition, in collaboration with other groups across the Colorado River Basin.

“Ultimately, the campaign is about connecting this year’s drought to more than just personal inconveniences like watering restrictions,” said Drew Beckwith, Water Policy Manager for Western Resource Advocates. “We’re trying to tee up larger issues of how drought affects river flows, tourism economies, and our quality of life in the West.”

The campaign not only asks individuals to reduce their water use, but also seeks to get water utilities to adopt the 90 by 20 goal.  “We’re also asking select utilities in the Denver Metro area, Las Vegas Valley, and Sun Corridor to adopt a goal of the same (combined residential use to 90 gpcd by 2020),” Beckwith said.  “We believe a renewed focus on water efficiency will be proven to be more cost-effective, flexible, and beneficial to the Basin than ‘traditional’ approaches to water supply.”

Learn more about the 90 by 20 campaign here.

Green Message Awaits President Obama in Grand Junction, Colorado

GJ_Colorado_River_Obama_MessageActivists in Colorado arranged for a special message to be delivered to President Obama when Air Force 1 landed at the Grand Junction airport.

The purpose of the action was to raise presidential awareness about environmental issues related to the Colorado River.

Drought Reduces More than Half of US Counties to “Natural Disaster Areas”

Drought-8-7-12The US Department of Agriculture has declared over 62% of counties in the US as “natural disaster areas.”

With drought drying up food crops and animal feedstock, the USDA said it would allow haying and grazing on 3.8 million protected acres.

Across 32 states, ranchers and farmers in 1,584 counties -- 50.3 percent of the total -- are now eligible for low-interest loans.  Learn more here.

California Water Rate Workshops to Focus on Efficiency and Revenue Stability 

Water rates are one of the most powerful tools utilities have to communicate the value of water and ensure a long-term, sustainable water supply.  The Pacific Institute, in collaboration with AWE and the California-Nevada Section of AWWA, is conducting two workshops in California that address a question central to many water suppliers today: how to create effective water rates that both reduce water demand and provide enough revenue for water system improvements as well as provide for long-term environmental and financial stability. 

The workshops will review the results of a survey on rate-setting in California, provide information about new and existing rate-setting, and feature several success stories to communicate the advantages of effective rate structures to boards and rate payers.

The all-day workshops will be held on September 11 in Davis, CA and on September 13 in Carson, CA.  Registration is just $20.  Register and get information about the workshops here.

Quebec Water Efficiency Strategy Sets Targets for 2017

QuebecQuebec, Canada has developed an ambitious water efficiency strategy that aims to reduce water use across the province by 2017.

Under the recently adopted strategy, Quebec aims to:

  • Reduce the quantity of water distributed per person by 20% compared to 2001 data;
  • Reduce the water loss rate to a maximum of :
    • 20% of water distributed and;
    • 15 cubic meters per day per kilometre of water pipe m3/(d-km).

To achieve these goals, the Quebec government has pledged to pursue the following policies:

  • Financial assistance for water infrastructure projects is conditional and based upon the adoption of measures to save water and reduce leakage by Quebec’s municipalities.
  • Revise building codes to prohibit the installation of accessories and equipment that over consume water.
  • Seek improved water efficiency in government buildings and in health and education networks.
  • Prepare guides and tools to assist municipalities.
  • Establish a committee to monitor and spread results.

Download a copy of Quebec’s efficiency strategy here or view the online version in French here.

Illinois to Update Plumbing Code for Conservation

IllinoisThe Illinois Department of Public Health has until next May to incorporate standards for new technologies that promote water conservation and safety.  A new law passed in July sets a May 31, 2013 deadline for the Illinois Department of Public Health to incorporate standards for new technologies that promote water conservation and safety.

“Illinois’ out-of-date plumbing code has prevented the adoption of modern methods to save money and preserve the environment through the harvesting of rainwater,” State Rep. Carol Sente (D-Vernon Hills) said. “This summer’s drought has demonstrated that it is imperative that we work to conserve water and think creatively about new solutions. Harvesting rainwater is one way to accomplish this, and I look forward to an updated plumbing code which makes it easier for rainwater solutions to be built in Illinois.”

The bill was signed into law at the Ryerson Woods Welcome Center, which has one of the only current rainwater harvesting systems in Illinois. Without updated plumbing standards, building such systems has been a difficult and lengthy process.

Download a copy of the Illinois legislation here.

No Gold: US Finishes 9th in Energy Efficiency Olympics

aceeeThe United Kingdom took top honors in a new energy efficiency ranking of the world's major economies, followed closely by Germany, Japan, and Italy, according to the first-ever International Energy Efficiency Scorecard published by the nonprofit American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). The report found that in the last decade the U.S. has made "limited or little progress toward greater efficiency at the national level," putting it in 9th place out of 12 leading economies around the globe.

The rankings were modeled using ACEEE's established approach to energy efficiency ranking of U.S. states, and included 12 of the world's largest economies: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union. These 12 economies represent over 78 percent of global gross domestic product; 63 percent of global energy consumption; and 62 percent of the global carbon-dioxide equivalent emissions.

On a scale of 100 possible points in 27 categories, the nations were ranked by ACEEE as follows: (1) the United Kingdom; (2) Germany; (3) Japan; (4) Italy; (5) France; (6) the European Union, Australia, and China (3-way tie); (9) the U.S.; (10) Brazil; (11) Canada; and (12) Russia.

Energy Implications of Water Management Decisions Can be Modeled with Free Software Tool

The Water–Energy Simulator (WESim) is an easy-to-use analytical tool that can be used to evaluate the energy and greenhouse gas implications of water management decisions. The Excel-based model developed by the Pacific Institute allows the user to explore a range of possible scenarios, such as increased demand for water resources, the development of alternative water and energy sources, and needed water treatment improvements resulting from emerging contaminants and stricter water-quality guidelines.

WESim creates a common framework in which to explore alternative scenarios. The model is designed to allow input of actual operating data on water and energy use, allowing for an analysis that better reflects operating conditions.

Learn more and download the free WESim model here.

New Report Details Impact of Fracking in Colorado

frackingourfutureimageA new report from Western Resource Advocates shows that the recent dramatic increase in hydraulic fracturing has serious implications for water supplies in Colorado and beyond.  Fracking Our Future is the first report to provide a comprehensive assessment of water and community impacts from hydraulic fracturing in Colorado’s northern Front Range.

Fracking Our Future addresses the questions, "How much water is required for new oil and gas production using hydraulic fracturing, and where will that water come from?" It also provides specific recommendations to guide future development that decision makers can use in creating policies to ensure that our precious and limited water resources are properly managed along with oil and gas development.

Download a free copy of Fracking Our Future from Western Resource Advocates.

Hunter, Ewing Offer WSI Scholarships

Ewing Irrigation and Hunter Industries are offering thousands of dollars in scholarships to help professionals in the irrigation or water utility industry attend the WaterSmart Innovations (WSI) conference in Las Vegas, October 2 – 5, 2012.

Scholarships of up to $350 are available to qualified professionals through Friday, August 31. To qualify, applicants must submit a letter from their supervisor documenting that the scholarship is necessary for the employee to be authorized to travel, using an online application.

On the form, applicants must write a brief essay explaining how they will use the education they will receive at WSI 2012 toward conservation and/or teaching efforts.

Get more information and learn more about WSI 2012 here.

News Briefs and Web Links

  • Op-Ed: Drought Warning for Corn-Based Agriculture – A geography professor argues that drought induced changes to the corn-dominated US agriculture industry could result in more viable farms, healthier diets and a steadier food system.  Read more here.
  • Des Moines Offers Treated Wastewater for Irrigation in Face of Drought – In Iowa, treated wastewater that is usually put back into the Des Moines River is being provided to area suburbs for landscape irrigation.  Read more here.
  • GreenPlumbers USA and IAPMO Offer accreditation at WSI 2012 - the accreditation program provides a platform for plumbers to learn about the latest “green” concepts and professional standards, and to share experiences and insights with other plumbers and contractors.  Register and get more information here.
  • EPA Publishes Planning for Sustatinability Handbook for Water Providers - This  new handbook  reflects a system-wide approach to planning  that can drive a strategic shift from a project-by-project focus to one of utilities as systems.  It can drive greater consideration of a utility’s role within the community or watershed and open up opportunities to achieve water quantity and quality objectives. Download a free copy from the AWE Resource Library. 
  • Turfgrass Water Conservation Alliance Focuses on Plant Materials –WaterSense labels toilets, but where can you find performance-tested sod?  The Turfgrass Water Conservation Alliance (TWCA) seeks to recognize plants and other live goods products in the lawn and garden industry that provide a clear benefit in water conservation.  The TWCA tests and qualifies plants based on their water requirement and suitability for a water efficiency landscape.  Learn more about the TWCA here. 
  • Ultra Green: SFPUC New Headquarters Building – The new headquarters of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission could be one of the most resource efficient buildings in the US.  Learn more here.
  • Water Works: Rebuilding Infrastructure, Creating Jobs, Greening the Environment – This new report from Green For All, the Economic Policy Institute, and American Rivers is now available.
  • Two Billion Square Feet of LEED Certified Commercial Buildings in the US – The U.S. Green Building Council announced that the total footprint of commercial projects certified under its LEED green building program surpassed two billion square feet. An additional seven billion square feet is currently in the pipeline across the globe as registered projects.  Read more here.
  • New Report:  Climate Change and Integrated Regional Water Management in California: A Preliminary Assessment of Regional Approaches This report examines the initial steps that California water managers have taken to address climate change vulnerabilities and greenhouse gas emissions.
  • European Kitchen Sink Water Use Studied – A new study used webcams and small water meters to examine kitchen sink water use in Europe.  The study concluded that dishwashing accounted for at least half of the daily kitchen sink water consumption per person, and averaged 58% across all four countries – UK, Italy, Germany, and Sweden.  Daily water consumption was highest in Italy, where the average person used over twice as much water (23.6 litres) in the kitchen as the average person in Germany (11 litres).  Read more here.
  • Toilet is 9th Greatest Invention Ever: Brits - According to a 2010 survey, the British public considers the flush toilet to be the ninth greatest invention of all time, just above the combustion engine.  Toilet paper ranked 22nd beating out trains, shoes and email.  Learn more here.
  • Regional Energy Codes Conferences to be Held Oct. 16-18 in Omaha - The regional conference will present innovative ways of addressing enforcement and compliance of energy codes.  Additional sessions will present information on the values of codes, how to adopt and implement codes and grassroots advocacy.  Register and learn more here.
  • Energy & Water 2013 Conference, Call for Abstracts is Now Open - The Water Environment Federation's Energy & Water 2013 Conference set for May, 2013 in Nashville, TN is now accepting abstracts. Abstracts are being solicited on a wide range of issues related to water, energy, and sustainability.  Learn more here. 
  • Water Research Foundation Updates Web Site – The WaterRF has revamped their site.  Check it out here.
  • Alabama Bans Sustainable Development - The State of Alabama has passed a law forbidding cooperation or compliance with a non-binding United Nation’s program - Agenda 21 - a set of sustainable development recommendations.  Similar legislation was considered in Arizona earlier this year, but ultimately did not pass. The Alabama bill unanimously passed both houses and will now become law.
  • Australian Study of Appliances and Usage Patterns Released – Yarra Valley Water in Melbourne, Australia has released the 2011 Appliance Stock and Usage Patterns Survey .  This is the third survey of this type with previous surveys being undertaken in 2003 and 2007. This has allowed the tracking of trends in appliance ownership and modifications made to usage patterns of water using appliances.
  • Ever Wonder What it Takes to Produce the Weekly US Drought Monitor?Find out here.

How to Submit Content for Water Efficiency Watch

Water Efficiency Watch welcomes submission of articles, photos, stories, commentary, new technologies, web links, etc.  Please e-mail your submission to Peter Mayer – mayer@aquacraft.com.

Don’t forget to like and follow AWE on   Facebook and  Twitter for your chance to win an iPod Touch.

DISCLAIMER: The Alliance for Water Efficiency reports on research and information as a service. This should not be considered an explicit or implicit endorsement of any product, service, research effort, analysis, etc. unless specifically so indicated.