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...

Victories for Water Efficiency in the 111th Congress

Congress_clipThe Alliance for Water Efficiency has been hard at work to educate Congress on the benefits of improved water management, and these efforts are bearing fruit in the 111th Congress.

In late June the House of Representatives narrowly passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act, HR 2454, a climate bill that also includes a federal procurement program for water efficiency and a multi-million dollar rebate/incentive program for consumers for water efficient products and services.  It also authorizes WaterSense as a permanent EPA program.  Focus now shifts to the Senate, where the Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer is planning to mark up a similar yet broader climate bill to report out of committee before the August congressional recess.

To insure needed support, the climate bill may then be coupled with a recently passed energy bill, moving the two bills together through the Senate in the Fall.  The energy bill, the American Clean Energy Leadership Act, is a bi-partisan, comprehensive energy bill that includes provisions highlighting the nexus between water resources and energy production.  In fact, all six Senate committees with jurisdiction on a climate and energy package will have to complete their action by mid-September in order to bring the final legislation to the floor by October. 

While focusing heavily on its legislative priorities, Congress continues to work this month on bills of particular interest to Alliance members, such as the Water Infrastructure Financing Act, S. 1005, the bill that amends and re-authorizes the clean water and safe drinking water State Revolving Funds (SRFs), expands eligibility for funding projects including water conservation, efficiency, reuse and recycling projects, and authorizes the EPA’s WaterSense program and a number of additional legislative priorities.  Although a 20% set aside for green projects is not currently in S. 1005, it appears that language for a 20% set-aside similar to what was in the Stimulus  Bill may end up in the FY 2010 Appropriations bill for the SRFs.  We will keep AWE members posted on the coming developments.  For further information follow the Legislative Watch page on the Alliance web site. Finally, a special Congressional education event will be held on July 28, 2009 at the US Capitol Visitor Center Auditorium, co-sponsored by the Running Dry Movie Project team, the Alliance for Water Efficiency, and a number of other organizations.  For more information on this event, please click here.  (link to calendar page)

AWE and EPA Team Up on WaterSense Awards Banquet

The Alliance is sponsoring a fun and lively banquet together with EPA at the WaterSmart Innovations Conference to honor the 2009 WaterSense award winners.  Scheduled for the first day of the conference (Wednesday, October 7), the banquet will be a festive beginning to the three-day event and will be a terrific opportunity for conservation professionals to meet each other and to network.  Registration for the banquet will be through the WaterSmart Innovations web site, or through the Alliance office.  The cost for this event will be a $75 per person.  More details will follow shortly.

California Smart Controller Study Finds Modest Water Savings

sprinkler_systemA new California Department of Water Resources report found modest water savings from the installation of weather-based “smart” irrigation controllers.  The study, conducted by a team led by Aquacraft, inc., examined the impact of smart controllers at 2,294 sites spread across northern and southern California.

Sites in the study, which included both residential and non-residential water customers, reduced weather-normalized water use by an average of 47.3 kgal per year or 6.1% of pre-installation outdoor use.  These savings amounted to an average water use reduction of 1.7 gallons per square foot per year.

While the smart controllers effected a modest overall water savings, one of findings of the study was that 41.8% of the study sites increased their water use after installation while 56.7% reduced water use.  Sites with a history of irrigating below the climactic theoretical irrigation requirement prior to receiving a smart controller tended to increase water use after installation of a smart controller.  The finding itself is not surprising, because smart controllers are designed to match irrigation applications to the prevailing theoretical requirement.

The study concludes that “Weather-based “smart” irrigation controllers, while a valuable tool, are not a ‘magic bullet’ for achieving perfect irrigation control and water savings.”  The report includes a detailed set of recommendations for improving water savings for both utilities implementing controller incentive programs and for customers deploying smart control technology.

The study reports primarily on only one year of post-installation data.  Longer term results look promising and the sites in this study are slated to be monitored for five years.  The final report, issued just in time for Smart Irrigation Month, can be downloaded here. 

Water Waste in Dipper Wells Targeted, Starbuck Responds 

dipper_wellDipper wells, a continuously water-fed sink used to wash utensils and vessels at ice cream parlors and coffee houses across North America, have been targeted as water wasters by a professor in Las Vegas.  It is estimated that these fixtures dump 100 million gallons of water per year down the drain in the Las Vegas Valley alone.

Martin Dean Dupalo, an adjunct professor of political science at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and Nathan Sipe, one of his students, spent about three months trying to determine how many dipper wells there are in the valley and how much water they use.  Read more about their research efforts here.

In the meantime, Starbucks – one of the companies with the most dipper wells in service – has responded quickly to this issue, stating that it will no longer run water continuously out of its taps to wash spoons and will instead install new faucets that meter out water.   Starbucks indicated that establishments that do not receive the new metered faucets will use a "single spoon, single pitcher" procedure, which involves using a spoon once and setting it aside to be cleaned and sanitized when dishes are washed.  Read more about Starbucks plans to conserve dipper well water here.

H2Ontario: A Blueprint for A Comprehensive Water Conservation and Efficiency Strategy

OntarioA new report from the POLIS Project, H2Ontario: A Blueprint for A Comprehensive Water Conservation and Efficiency Strategy, is built on the broad vision of ‘No New Water Supplies’, meaning that the search for “new” water starts with saving water and the collective efforts to unleash the full potential of water conservation. Ten priority areas and twenty-five actions form a pragmatic and innovative framework that would make Ontario a leader in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin.  To read “H2Ontario: A Blueprint for A Comprehensive Water Conservation and Efficiency Strategy” click here. 

Does Reduced Demand Mean Reduced Water Quality?

An article in the AWWA Opflow magazine tackles the issue of water quality impacts from conservation. Prompted by severe persistent drought, the Raleigh, N.C., city council approved mandatory water conservation measures beginning in August 2007. But the utility was concerned that reduced water use could increase water residence time in the distribution system and negatively affect water quality, possibly placing the city in violation of drinking water regulations.  AWWA Member can read the full Opflow article here.

Plumbing Association and GreenPlumbers Team Up

GreenPlumbers and the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States and Canada (UA) have announced a historic partnership that combines the UA’s training programs with the GreenPlumbers marketing and accreditation network.

The UA has made a commitment to provide green training for their more than 300,000 members in the U.S. and Canada. The agreement ensures that all UA members who complete the plumbing portion of the UA’s Green Mechanical Systems Awareness class or the HVAC/Plumbing Combination will be recognized in the global GreenPlumbers Accreditation Program.

“The UA is the acknowledged leader in the U.S. and Canada in plumbing and mechanical training and we at GreenPlumbers are delighted to work with UA leaders to establish a global standard in green training,” said Steve Lehtonen, Managing Director of GreenPlumbers. “Our joint content committee is finalizing the assimilation of the curriculums and we should be issuing accreditations by early August.”

“GreenPlumbers has emerged as an innovative force in the green industry. The combination of our training and GreenPlumbers’ vision is a natural fit for the new green marketplace,” said Gary Hamilton, UA Director of Plumbing Services.

Toilet Rebates Gain Popularity in Wisconsin

Marshfield became the latest in a growing list of Wisconsin water utilities that are providing rebates to customers for replacing outdated toilets. The utility will offer its residential customers $50 rebates for the purchase of WaterSense labeled high efficiency toilets (HETs). In approving the measure, Public Service Commission Chairman Eric Callisto remarked, “Reducing the volume of water wasted through leaky and outdated toilets is one of the easiest ways to save water. The PSC is actively working with utilities to implement water conservation programs, such as toilet rebates, that meet their unique water supply needs.” The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that the average home can save up to 10,000 gallons per year by replacing an outdated toilet.

Colorado Governor Says Downstream States Should Conserve

Bill RitterDownstream states should be looking to conservation methods and new technologies to improve their water supplies, rather than uphill for additional sources, according to Colorado Governor Bill Ritter.  Speaking on the final day of a Western Governor's Association conference in Park City, Utah, the Ritter told the state's media that talks over Western water issues should focus on desalination plants and conservation measures rather than trying to squeeze more water from the upper basin states of the Colorado River. The governor said he and others heard from water experts in similar dry regions of the world, and walked away "with great optimism" that there are other ways that growing, dry regions of the Southwest can get the water they need.  Read more here.

News Briefs and Web Links

  • A new publication, “Making the Most of the Water We Have: The Soft Path Approach to Water Management” Edited By David B. Brooks, Oliver M. Brandes and Stephen Gurman is available for purchase here.
  • A new report, “Watching Water – A guide to evaluating corporate risks in an increasingly thirst world” put out by JP Morgan is available for free download here.
  • The Los Angeles Times has debuted a new column about dry landscape gardening.  Read all about it here.
  • AWWA is seeking abstract submissions for the ACE 2010 conference to be held next June in Chicago.  The deadline for submitting an abstract is September 14.  To learn more or submit an abstract click here.
  • After a long gap, scientists in Nepal have embarked on the first field studies of Himalayan glacial lakes, some of which are feared to be swelling dangerously due to global warming.  Learn more here.
  • The London Sustainability Exchange is working to “encourage and support residents to take up greener lifestyles through peer to peer activities”.  The group will train London and Quadrant residents as Green Champions who will give their neighbors tips on saving water as well as saving energy and cutting waste.  Further details are available here.
  • Drought in Queensland Australia is easing.  The combined level of south-east Queensland's three major dams passed 75 per cent for the first time in more than seven years.
  • Australian water expert Dr. Jim Gill will be the keynote speaker Oct. 8 during the WaterSmart 09 Innovations Conference and Exposition in Las Vegas. Discounted registration for the event is available through July 9.
  • San Diego has hired 11 “water cops” to police water waste ordinances and drought restriction compliance this summer.  Learn more 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.

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.