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.   

In this issue of Water Efficiency Watch...

The Fight to Save WaterSense - 10-years of Efficiency Progress at Stake 

 SaveWaterSense_InfographicThe proposed EPA budget put forward by the Trump Administration calls for the elimination of the WaterSense water products labeling program, a cornerstone of water efficiency progress over the past 10 years.  It is unclear when these cuts might take effect, but the writing is on the wall:  WaterSense is on the chopping block, unless the budget proposal is changed by Congress.

The Alliance for Water Efficiency is spearheading a diverse coalition of water providers, plumbing and irrigation manufacturers, and water professionals to urge the EPA and the Trump Administration to continue the annual $3 million in WaterSense funding for the remainder of FYI 2017 and beyond. 

More than 185 organizations signed a letter from AWE to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt calling on him to maintain funding for the WaterSense program. The letter outlines the numerous benefits of WaterSense and represents the support of 187 manufacturers, businesses, water providers, academic institutions, and efficiency advocates.

“The WaterSense program is a cornerstone of our nation’s water sustainability strategy, and has become vital to American communities, manufacturers, and service providers,” said Mary Ann Dickinson, President and CEO of the Alliance for Water Efficiency. “The Administration’s budget undervalues the contribution water efficiency makes to economic growth and the benefits of efficiency for US-based manufacturing. Defunding the program will be harmful to US businesses and families, and we are committed to taking all steps necessary to preserve this program.” 

The Alliance for Water Efficiency letter calls on Administrator Pruitt and Congress to maintain the $2 million budget for WaterSense. It is supported by leading American companies and organizations such as the American Water Works Association, the Irrigation Association, Kohler Co., LIXIL Corporation/American Standard Brands, The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Denver Water, the City of San Antonio, the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District, Water DM, and more than 185 other organizations and water providers from around the country.

The WaterSense program itself has more than 1,700 partner organizations that use WaterSense to support their businesses or their water efficiency strategies. The WaterSense specifications are also the basis for legislation in four states and other local plumbing codes that reference it.

WaterSense sign“Eliminating WaterSense would destabilize the marketplace for manufacturers that rely on WaterSense-driven sales, start-ups bringing new products to market, and irrigation professionals that market their WaterSense certification,” said Pete DeMarco, AWE Board Chair and Executive Vice President of Advocacy & Research at the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials.

“This is a cost-effective voluntary program that works,” DeMarco added. “Our letter demonstrates that diverse organizations – from government agencies to Fortune 1000 companies – see significant value from this low-cost initiative.”

It is estimated that the WaterSense program has saved American taxpayers more than $32 billion (2015 dollars) on their water and energy bills in the last ten years and has saved 1.5 trillion gallons of water to date.  WaterSense helps provide greater water security given that 40 out of 50 states are anticipating water shortages in the years to come, according to a 2013 Government Accountability Report. WaterSense also helps consumers manage their water costs and can help American families reduce their water bills by up to $350 per year.

“We need to congressionally authorize and permanently fund this program,” Dickinson continued. “Elimination is not an acceptable option.”

The fight to save WaterSense has only just begun, and it is not too late to get involved. In the coming weeks, AWE will work closely with key partners including the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials, Plumbing Manufacturers International, American Water Works Association, the Irrigation Association, and the High-Performance Buildings Coalition to ensure that this essential program is continued.

AWE encourages others to submit their own letters to Administrator Pruitt and key members of congress in support of WaterSense.  There is no time to waste; send letters and email as soon as possible.  Here is how to get more information and get involved.  Act today to save WaterSense.

 AWE Launches Net Blue Toolkit to Create Water Neutral Urban Development 

Net Blue LogoAWE has proudly announced the launch of a major new initiative focused on water neutral development – Net Blue.  The new Net Blue Toolkit includes information to help communities create ordinances and regulations to establish water neutrality in their growth.

Net Blue is a collaborative initiative of the Alliance for Water Efficiency, the Environmental Law Institute, and River Network. The project team members developed a model ordinance that communities can tailor and customize to create a water demand offset approach meeting local needs. Communities in different regions throughout the United States were consulted to help develop the model ordinance and the offset components, and to ensure that the program is adaptable to many different political climates, legal frameworks, and environmental challenges.

The Net Blue Project is divided into four parts:  

  1. Initial Offset Research (including - Water Offset Policies for Water-Neutral Community Growth)
  2. Model Ordinance (including sample text, worksheet, and user guide)
  3. Offset Methodology (user-friendly structure for calculating offsets from off-site water conservation retrofits, rainwater harvesting, and stormwater capture)
  4. Community Outreach 

A project advisory committee of experts in water resources, water law, and planning and zoning helped to guide the project. 

New AWE / PMI Report Finds 170 Billion Gallons of Conservation Potential 

water-study-infographicA major new report on the saturation of efficient toilets across five US states found an additional 170 billion gallons in yet-to-be-realized conservation potential. The “Saturation Study of Non-Efficient Water Closets in Key States” focused on Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia and Texas.

The savings projected by the study (170 billion gallons of potable water yearly or 465 million gallons saved per day) could be achieved if non-efficient toilets in residential properties are replaced with water-efficient ones. This five-state savings can be extrapolated to an estimate of up to 360 billion potable gallons of water per year saved nationally.

This research, conducted by industry-wide-recognized expert John Koeller, produces important direction for water managers nationwide, as 40 out of 50 states anticipate water shortages in the coming years, according to a Government Accountability Office survey of state water managers published in 2013, with most of these states already experiencing periodic shortages. The five states researched represent 28 percent of the national population and 47 percent of all housing units in 2015, so the report examines a large part of the residential water consumption in the United States. Toilet flushing is the largest single indoor use of water, representing 24 percent of total use in single-family homes. Replacing non-efficient toilets with efficient ones is an important strategy to stretch available water supplies.

“This study affirms the important and sometimes overlooked role that water-efficient plumbing products – and programs such as the EPA WaterSense label – play in assuring water sustainability for our nation,” said Mary Ann Dickinson, AWE president and CEO. “We are nowhere near the potential of water savings we can achieve through water efficiency.”

Barbara C. Higgens, PMI CEO/executive director, said plumbing manufacturers are proud of the water-saving innovations they have brought to the marketplace. “Great water-efficiency innovations have already been made and are readily available. Now it’s time for consumers and businesses to do their part to replace non-efficient toilets, showerheads and faucets with water-efficient ones,” she stated.

California Drought is Gone, Conservation to Remain 

CA snow survey 2017On April 7, 2017, Gov. Jerry Brown made official: the five- year California drought is over. Brown issued an executive order that lifts the drought emergency in all but a handful of San Joaquin Valley counties where some communities are still coping with dried-up wells.   Brown also made it clear that conservation is not going away and the state will now transition into a permanent conservation framework.

On April 26, the State Water Resources Control Board rescinded the water supply stress test requirements and remaining mandatory conservation standards for urban water suppliers.  However, prohibitions against wasteful water use practices and requirements for monthly water use reporting remain in place.

“This drought emergency is over, but the next drought could be around the corner,” Brown said in his statement. “Conservation must remain a way of life.”

Confronted with the drought, Brown ordered a statewide 25% cut in urban water use, and Californians generally came close to or exceeded this call.  Many of the measures put into place, including turf replacement efforts, will result in long-term demand reductions.

 “We did remarkably well,” said Jay Lund, director of the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences.

Despite water shortages, agriculture — the state’s biggest water user — enjoyed record revenues in 2012, 2013 and 2014 thanks to soaring nut and dairy prices and the water shortages barely put a dent in the state economy.

“How much reduction in the gross domestic product of California occurred because of a 25% reduction in urban water use? Almost nothing.” Lund said. “Nobody has even bothered to calculate it, it’s so small.”

In the wake of the drought, California intends to implement far-reaching water management measures, including establishing water budgets for utilities and regions with specific water efficiency targets included.  If adopted, these mandatory regulatory measures will be the first of its kind in the nation.  AWE and Water Efficiency Watch will continue to monitor and report on these developments.

AWE Commercial Kitchens Water Use Efficiency and Best Practices Guide Launched 

 Commercial Kitchens CoverAttention AWE Members, AWE’s new Commercial Kitchens Water Use Efficiency and Best Practices Guide is available as a members-only benefit. 

The AWE Commercial Kitchens Guide is concise and specifically made for busy commercial kitchen industry professionals. It is a comprehensive resource to help a commercial kitchen manager make more water-efficient decisions. The Guide walks readers through the critical steps that lead to water efficiency and that make sound business sense.

The Report PDF is free to AWE Members.  AWE is also accepting orders for published and bound copies of the Commercial Kitchens Guide up until June 15.  Get more information here. 

The State of Water Loss Control in Drinking Water Utilities – New AWWA White Paper 

The American Water Works Association has released a new white paper on The State of Water Loss Control in Drinking Water Utilities. 

This impressive new report authored by AWWA Water Loss Control Committee and a consortium of experts provides water utilities with background, facts, and resources to help them understand and communicate the occurrence of water and revenue losses in utility operations and the means to cost-effectively control them.

Innovative Cooperative Water Conservation Partnership in Arizona Announced 

Lake MeadDrought relief efforts to address falling elevation in Lake Mead spurred the Gila River Indian Community, the Arizona Department of Water Resources, the City of Phoenix and the Walton Family Foundation to sign a cooperative agreement in March that will continue efforts to conserve water to serve as a foundation to secure water supplies for Arizona’s more than 6 million residents and businesses.

“This agreement is an important step to continue cooperative efforts to help slow the falling elevations at Lake Mead,” said Gila River Governor Stephen R. Lewis. 

“Solving our most difficult long-term water challenges like the over-allocation of Colorado River water will require innovation and collaboration,” said Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. “Today we are embarking on a creative new way for the Gila River Indian Community, Phoenix, and others to help build drought resiliency together to protect the Colorado and Lake Mead for the long run.”

Thomas Buschatzke, Director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) stated, “This agreement will allow for the creation of tools that will be effective in protecting Lake Mead.   Those tools will be enduring and inclusive, allowing for participation by a broad group of Arizona water entitlement holders and other constituencies.”

The agreement establishes a long-term partnership between tribal, federal, state and local leaders and a philanthropic foundation with a lengthy, laudable history of supporting binational and multi-state water agreements in the Lower Basin of the Colorado River. The Foundation has worked diligently to protect the viability of Lake Mead and the overall health of the Colorado River system.

Learn more here. 

AWE Updates Home Water Works Residential Water Calculator 

Home Water WorksThe Alliance for Water Efficiency has recently updated its popular residential Water Calculator at the Home Water Works web site.

The updates to the calendar incorporate new data and information from the 2016 Water Resources Foundation Residential End Uses of Water Update.  The Water Calculator provides an estimate of water use based on region, household size, and various characteristics. It has proved popular with water utilities and schools since it was launched, and the calculator has been customized for several AWE members upon request. For more information on how to customize the calculator for your water utility, learn more here.

RESNET Water Efficiency Rating Index moves forward 

RESNETA new water efficiency rating for new homes could help drive efficiency and innovation in new construction in the coming years.  In a two-year effort, a group of water and energy efficiency professionals have developed the RESNET Water Efficiency Rating (WER) Index. 

RESNET is partnering with the International Code Council (ICC) to develop a national consensus standard for a Water Efficiency Rating Index (WER Index). The RESNET WER Index will work with water efficiency of a home in the same manner that the HERS Index works for energy efficiency, and is based on the following policies:

  • The WER Index Reference Home tracks with the reference home of the HERS Index (the water use applications that represent standard new home construction in 2006)
  • Modeling produces a WER Index that will be a quantitative assessment of the relative efficiency of two buildings (reference and rated home) that produces a numeric scale. The reference home will be assigned a WER Index Score of 100. The relative departure of the rated home from the Reference Home will be either added to or subtracted from the 100 score.  The more efficient the rated home, the lower its score.
  • The WER Index score will be based on calculations of potable water use.

The near term goal is to create a water efficiency rating index that the HERS infrastructure can readily and timely adopt.  The long-term vision is for the construction of 165,000 new homes that are rated and issued a HERS Index annually to be cost effectively assigned a WER Index score at an affordable cost to builders.

The proposed RESNET rating index can be downloaded here. 

Submit comments on RESNET here. 

Report Favors Georgia in Supreme Court Battle with Florida 

supreme courtGeorgia scored a critical victory in a long-running legal dispute with Florida in February when Special Master Hon. Ralph Lancaster issued his report in FL v. GA, 142 Original.  The Report of the Special Master, sent to the U.S. Supreme Court for final ruling, recommended against imposing any water consumption limits on Georgia, largely because flows into Florida are controlled by the Army Corps of Engineers, who was not enjoined to the case.

"Without the ability to bind the corps, I am not persuaded that the court can assure Florida the relief it seeks," Maine attorney Ralph Lancaster, the Supreme Court-appointed special master, wrote in a 137-page report. 

The recommendations constituted Mr. Lancaster’s ruling after hearing evidence during a five-week trial in November and December, 2016.  The Special Master found that Florida had “failed to show that a consumption cap” was needed or that any water generated would actually make it to Florida without enjoining the Corps of Engineers to the case.

The finding was celebrated by Georgia politicians, business boosters and agriculture groups that said strict new water limits could have cost the state billions of dollars. Florida said a court defeat could endanger its environment and hobble its thriving oyster industry. 

"Georgia remains committed to the conservation efforts that make us amicable stewards of our water," Gov. Nathan Deal (R) said in a statement. "We are encouraged by this outcome which puts us closer to finding a resolution to a decades-long dispute over the use and management of the waters of the basin."

The case is not fully concluded yet.  Both Florida and Georgia will file exceptions to the Special Master’s report in the coming weeks, which along with the entire trial record will be reviewed by the nine justices for final ruling, probably in October.  Learn more here. 

ASCE Water Infrastructure 2017 Report Card is a lousy D+ 

There was zero improvement in the ASCE’s Water Infrastructure report card for 2017 – a D+, indicating the continuing need for substantial investment and improvements.

The report notes that while water consumption is down, there are still an estimated 240,000 water main breaks per year in the United States, wasting over two trillion gallons of treated drinking water. According to the American Water Works Association, an estimated $1 trillion is necessary to maintain and expand service to meet demands over the next 25 years.

Read the ASCE Water Infrastructure Report Card here. 

IWA Efficiency 2017 Conference – Bath, England 

 iwalogoThe International Water Association Efficient 2017 conference will be held July 18-20 in Bath, Somerset, England.   AWE's Mary Ann Dickinson is the Chair of IWA's Efficient Urban Water Management Specialist group, which organizes the biennial conference in different locations around the world.

Topics for this year’s conference include developing strategies for policies & legislation, best management practices, water and energy nexus, and more.  Learn more and register here. 

AWE New Member Spotlight: Waterlix 

waterlix-logoWaterlix helps utility companies to proactively avoid water disasters and losses and to minimize the risk of such events with its machine-learning solution based on visuals from satellites and details of land elevation models.  They provide condition assessments for a water utility distribution system, considering the local parameters that affect corrosion and water main breaks, and it is possible to apply the model for any city having a GIS map of its water mains. Location data usually is collected from available open sources, although any additional data can be fed into the model to enhance the prediction accuracy.

Waterlix guarantees its accuracy by implementing the model on a water utility network and comparing it with existing condition assessments reports.  For more information, contact Merhdad Varedi .

News Briefs and Web Links 

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.

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.