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.  

Please note that Peter Mayer has a new email address – peter.mayer@waterdm.com where he welcomes submission of articles, photos, stories, commentary, new technologies, web links, etc. for Water Efficiency Watch.  Thank you.

In this issue of Water Efficiency Watch...

 “Never Waste” Consumer Media Campaign Launches March 4

NeverWasteOrgOn Monday, March 4, the Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE) will launch its first-ever consumer media campaign.  Based on the concept of urging consumers to “Never Waste” water needlessly, the campaign uses a fun fact-filled water bottle as a measure of typical water use and waste.  Campaign ads and messaging are available free of charge to AWE members, and the bottles can be purchased in bulk with customized member logos or purchased individually. For more information click here: www.allianceforwaterefficiency.org/mcampaign.aspx 

AWE and ACEEE Honor Exceptional Water and Energy Efficiency Programs

aceee-awe logoThe Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE) and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) have announced the first-ever awards for exceptional efficiency programs that save both water and energy. AWE and ACEEE are recognizing a total of 12 top programs including five exemplary award winners and seven honorable mentions.

The five award-winning exemplary programs are below and can be reviewed on the ACEEE Water-Energy Program Directory:

  • Southern California Edison: Leak Detection Pilot Program
  • Darden Restaurants: Darden Sustainability-15 X 15
  • City of Boulder, Colorado: Energy Performance Contracting Program
  • Massachusetts Water Resources Authority: Long Term Sustainability Program
  • United Technologies Corporation: 2015 Sustainability Goals

Honorable Mention: Promising Programs:

  • City of Santa Rosa, California: Ozone Laundry Program
  • Florida Green Building Coalition: Green Home Certification Standard
  • City of Austin, Texas: Multifamily Energy and Water Efficiency Program
  • Bonneville Power Administration: Save Water-Save Energy Agricultural Energy Efficiency Program
  • Denver Building Owners and Managers Association: Watts to Water
  • Town of Windsor, California: Windsor Efficiency PAYS®

Honorable Mention: Sustained Achievement:

  • Resource Action Programs: LivingWise

For the Exemplary Programs that Save Both Energy and Water Awards, AWE and ACEEE accepted nominations for programs across the United States, Canada, and Australia and over multiple economic sectors to find the most innovative and comprehensive programs. The five award winners represent different regions of the United States and different models of joint water and energy efficiency programs.

Programs selected for the award were honored for their market penetration and innovation in helping their customers or stakeholders to achieve both water and energy savings through efficiency. The lessons learned by these programs can be found in a new report,  Tackling the Nexus: Exemplary Programs that Save Both Energy and Water , released in January by ACEEE and AWE.

"The program award winners and honorable mentions demonstrate the innovative ways governments, utilities, businesses, and nonprofits are cost-effectively saving water and energy," said Mary Ann Dickinson, President and CEO of AWE. "These programs represent a promising start that needs to be nurtured and expanded."  Learn more about the award winners here.

AWE “Stokes Fire” Promoting State Scorecard Report

The Alliance for Water Efficiency and Environmental Law Institute’s Water Efficiency and Conservation State Scorecard  has garnered plenty of attention since the official release in September 2012. 

“We undertook this project to stoke the fire,” said Mary Ann Dickinson, president and CEO of AWE. “A similar state scorecard report exists on energy efficiency, and it has resulted over the years in intense competition among the states for the highest scores. We were hoping for the same to happen with water-efficiency policies.”

Overall, the 50 states as a group averaged a C grade. In fact, only two states-Texas and California-earned an A-, while the rest of the country received 10 Bs, 19 Cs, and 19 Ds. Seven states received a mere 2 out of 40 possible points.  

Learn more and download a copy of the State Scorecard report here.

Read the Ecohome Magazine article about the State Scorecard report here.  

In “Water Session” Texas Lawmakers Tackle Planning, New Supply, Drought

Texas capitolWith national drought forecasts predicting persistent or intensifying drought for the Lone Star State, the Texas legislature has water on the brain as a wide variety of water-related legislative ideas have been proposed.  Some are calling this Legislature the “water session” because of the prominence of water issues.

New reservoirs are a big part of the state’s water plan, which includes proposals for 26 major new water storage projects.  In January, Allan Ritter, a Republican and chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, introduced H.B. 11, a bill that would move $2 billion from the state’s “rainy day” fund, which comes from oil and gas revenue, into a state fund for water projects.  At least 20 percent of the money available in the fund would be used for conservation and reuse efforts.  Ritter’s proposal received support from Republican leaders and diverse groups that are often in opposition, including the Sierra Club’s Texas chapter, the Texas Association of Business and other industry groups.

Texas is in the midst of what could easily turn into a record-breaking drought that began in the fall of 2010 and continues to affect many parts of the state. To date, it is the third-worst drought in Texas since 1895, when statewide weather records begin.  The multiyear drought in the 1950s remains the worst on record according to John Nielsen-Gammon, the state climatologist.  Learn more here.

WRI Launches Aqueduct Site to Map Global Water Risks

Aqueduct-WRI-logoWhat are the water risks in Patagonia?  How about Egypt?  What about Poughkeepsie?  The interactive new Aqueduct web site from the World Resources Institute (WRI) provides an easy way to examine water risks anywhere around the globe.

WRI built Aqueduct to help companies, investors, governments, and communities better understand where and how water risks are emerging around the world.   Launched in January 2013 after a three-year development effort Aqueduct: the Water Risk Atlas uses a robust, peer reviewed methodology and the best-available data to create high-resolution, customizable global maps of water risk.  

Importantly, the data and methodology behind Aqueduct are documented and available for download. All the products, methodologies, and datasets that make up Aqueduct are available for free use under the Creative Commons CC:BY license.  AWE commends WRI for creating this outstanding and powerful new open source tool. Check out Aqueduct and learn more here.

Pacific Institute, AWE Release "Need to Know" Water Rates Series

PI-AWE logoThe Pacific Institute, in cooperation with AWE, has released a series of reports summarizing recent workshops on water rates, conservation, revenue stability, demand forecasting, affordability and communication. 

The Need to Know water rates series highlights strategies that help water service providers cope with the “new normal” of an era of decreased water demand due to a variety of factors from weather to the economy to increased conservation and efficiency. 

“For California, guaranteeing long-term, sustainable delivery of safe, reliable drinking water includes prioritizing conservation and efficiency, a recognized way to effectively reduce long-term costs, and often the most cost-effective ‘new water supply’ option available,” said Dr. Juliet Christian-Smith of the Pacific Institute. “However, for water suppliers, reconciling a conservation message with revenue stability, as well as concern about costs from customers, are key issues.”

This series includes pointed information and strategies to help water managers plan water rates for conservation pricing and affordability – and to communicate with their customers for best results. Of primary importance is considering the ability of different customers to pay for water. Learn more and download the reports here.

Dual Flush Behavior Study Finds Full Flushes Dominate

dual-flush-toilet-fixtureA new study published in the February 2013 issue of the AWWA Journal examines human behavioral interaction with a dual flush toilet technology.  The results suggest that full flushing is much more common the half –flushing, thus substantially reducing the potential water savings from this technology.  Adding explanatory signs in the bathroom stalls had a relatively small impact on flushing behavior.  Clearly there is work to be done to educate the general population on how to maximize the water saving benefits from dual flush fixtures.

Learn more and download the full article (free for AWWA members) here.

EnergySTAR Releases Updated Specs for Commercial Dishwashers and Commercial Ice Machines

The EPA EnergySTAR program has released updated specifications for two important product categories that consume both energy and water:

  • Commercial Dishwashers
  • Commercial Ice Machines

The updated specifications will likely have implications for future water demand in commercial kitchens.  Learn more and download the updated specifications here.

ICC Seeks Public Comments on Landscape Irrigation Sprinkler and Emitter Standard Draft

The International Code Council (ICC) Consensus Committee on Landscape Irrigation Emission Devices has produced a first draft of ASABE/ICC 802-201, with a public comment period open until Feb. 18. The full draft is available for view here.  

The draft standard, created by ASABE and ICC, includes provisions for testing the function and performance of sprinklers and nozzles, point source and line source drip emitters and microspray-type emission devices. The standard only covers products that are made specifically for landscape irrigation systems.   Click here to access ICC’s public comment forms and submission instructions. The public comment period closes after February 18.

New Report Summarizes Conservation Efforts in Washington State 

WashingtonThe Partnership for Water Conservation (Partnership) has issued a first-ever report summarizing the activities of water conservation efforts by municipal water suppliers in Washington state. The Partnership collected and analyzed data from 153 water suppliers representing a wide range of utilities throughout the state.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Nearly three-quarters of the Washington water suppliers surveyed have implemented rate structures that encourage conservation.
  • Eighty-eight percent of water suppliers meter all customer connections.
  • Ninety-five percent of water suppliers have established quantifiable water conservation goals.
  • Over the past decade, Washington water suppliers have implemented a wide range of innovative conservation measures that benefit residents and businesses.
  • A one percent reduction in water system leaks statewide would result in hundreds of millions of gallons of water saved annually.

Read and download the full report here.

Massachusetts Lawmaker Critical of State Spending on Bottled Water

MassachusettsSince July, the state of Massachusetts has spent more than $350,000 on bottled water, an expenditure state lawmakers are calling into question.

"There is no reason we should spend taxpayers' money on a product that is unnecessary, expensive and harmful to the environment when there are clean and cheap alternatives," said state Rep. Tom Sannicandro, D-Ashland.

In January, Sannicandro filed a bill that seeks to ban the buying of bottled water with public funds. Six other states -- Connecticut, Vermont, New York, Colorado, Maryland and Illinois -- have already banned government spending on bottled water. The state level move move comes on the heels of a plastic water bottle prohibition in Concord, Massachusetts where it's no longer legal for stores to sell single-serve plastic bottles of water.  Learn more here.

Lake Michigan Water Levels Sink to All Time Low

Lake-Michigan-Low_waterThe U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that in January the water levels in Lake Michigan plunged below its previous record low level, set in March 1964.  The water is now more than 6 feet below the record high, set in October 1986.

The water level is tracked by gauges placed around Lakes Michigan and Huron, which are actually one body of water connected by the Straits of Mackinac. Daily measurements are then averaged at the end of each month for record-keeping purposes.
The lakes have recently been setting individual monthly records, but January announcement means the lakes are now lower than they have ever been for any month since modern record-keeping began in 1918.  Learn more here.

Conservation Preferred Over Pipelines in Colorado

Colorado State FlagColorado voters would rather conserve water than divert it from rivers to meet future demand, according to a poll commissioned by a group of recreation and tourism businesses.  The poll, conducted by Public Opinion Strategies and Keating Research, found that 76 percent of those surveyed agreed that the state could solve most of its water problems through conservation efforts and reducing waste.

More than half of the 710 voters polled oppose any additional pipelines from rivers on the Western Slope of the Rocky Mountains, which lies within the Colorado River Basin and holds most of the state's water. A large majority - 87 percent - of those polled said they are willing to cut back their water use.

"Only 24 percent said, 'I'm doing all I can,'" said Lori Weigel, a partner with Public Opinion Strategies, the firm that conducted the survey. "People are telling us this is not just some nice policy idea; they're actually willing to take some steps, some personal actions to back up this policy approach."  Read the full poll results here.

News Briefs and Web Links

  • California Releases Updated Green Building Codes Impacting Energy and Water -  The California Building Standards Commission has announced the adoption of the 2013 California Building Standards Code which includes new energy code, accessibility standards, green building and water use modifications.  Learn more here.
  • AWWA Journal Conservation Issue Published – AWWA Journal’s annual conservation issue was published in February.  This year’s issue includes articles on forecasting demand extremes under climate change, a “crosscutting” review of water efficient products, and human behavioral interaction with dual flush toilets.  Articles are available for free download for AWWA members here.
  • Water Infrastructure Problems Targeted in New Web Site and Campaign – Water is Your Business – an awareness campaign by the National Association of Water Companies and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – seeks to engage businesses, water infrastructure stakeholders and community leaders on the value of sustainable water provision, the benefits of investing in water infrastructure for the whole community, and potential solutions in delivering sustainable water systems.  Learn more here. 
  • The Texas Drought, Up Close and Personal – This interactive tool allows users to explore the reach and implications of what is shaping up to be the drought of record in Texas.
  • Texans Can Show Support for Conservation with a New License Plate Design – It just got easier to tell the world about water conservation in Texas. Learn more here.
  • Snowpack in the Upper Colorado Basin Stands at 72% of Average – We’ve still got a couple of months to go, but 2012-13 is shaping up to be as dry or drier than last year.  Time to start preparing.  View Colorado snowpack trends here.
  • Drought Benefits – 5 Upsides to Rain-Free Weather – Never underestimate the human capacity to find an optimistic slant to just about anything.
  • Who’s Afraid of ‘Smart’ Water Meters? – Apparently, not everyone is enthusiastic about the smart metering concept.  This article from USA Today highlights the concerns.
  • New Web Site Tries to “Visualize the Way Americans Value Water” –  Check out this interesting concept site here.
  • The Fracking Song – Funny, informative, hip. Check out this YouTube video to learn “What the frack is going on.”
  • Water Risk Raised By Business Execs at  World Economic Forum in Davos - As the
    global economic turmoil is receding, many CEOs and global leaders are turning to other threats -- and water is high on the list. Learn more here.
  • Australia Update: Murray-Darling basin water management plan signed into law – The plan aims to balance environmental and socio-economic interests in a highly productive region that suffers both intense floods and dire droughts. Learn more here.
  • Rainwater harvesting takes off in Mexico City Learn more here.
  • New Product: Plant Link Monitors Soil Moisture in House Plants – Check out this innovative product concept on the Kickstarter web site.
  • Home Water Works Offers Consumer Efficiency Information – AWE’s Home Water Works web site – www.home-water-works.org – offers useful information on how to easily save water in your home or apartment and a Water Calculator to estimate how water is used.  Check it 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 – peter.mayer@waterdm.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.