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...

AWE Releases Conservation Tracking Tool, Plans Training Workshop

Screen Shot 1The Alliance for Water Efficiency has released a powerful new conservation planning model that can assist water providers in their conservation planning efforts.  The AWE Water Conservation Tracking Tool is a spreadsheet-based software package that can evaluate the water savings, costs, and benefits of conservation programs for a specific water utility.  The tool is available for free to all AWE annual members.

Utilities can use the Conservation Tracking Tool in a variety of ways to aid their water resource planning and operations.  The tool can help:

  • Quickly compare alternative conservation measures in terms of their water savings potential, impact on system costs, and potential benefits to utility customers.
  • Develop long-range conservation plans.  Construct conservation portfolios containing up to 50 separate conservation program activities.
  • Track the implementation, water savings, costs, and benefits of actual conservation activities over time.
  • Evaluate a utility’s changing revenue requirement with conservation.

The Tool counts the savings achieved from national plumbing code and appliance standards.  For California and Texas, states that have stricter requirements for toilets by 2014, a separate version of the Tool is available that incorporates the new state legislative changes.

As part of the release of the software tool, AWE has teamed with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, and the Chicago Department of Water Management to offer a free workshop on water conservation planning using the new tracking tool to be held on September 3, 2009  in Chicago.  Click here to learn more about this work shop. To download registration information click here.  

California Energy Commission Suspends Irrigation Standards Effort

sprinkler_systemThe California Energy Commission (CEC) has suspended the proceeding to establish landscape irrigation equipment efficiency performance standards and labeling requirements.  The decision to suspend the proceedings was made after the CEC heard testimony primarily on the topic of smart irrigation controllers over a three month period.

In the suspension announcement the CEC said, “After reviewing the available information and submittals…, the Committee has determined that there is insufficient technical data and analyses necessary to substantiate specific standards or labeling requirements for the landscape irrigation equipment defined in the Scoping Order.”

On the subject of performance standards for smart irrigation controllers, the CEC said, “Sufficient information on costs, actual performance, and methods to verify savings is lacking. In addition, recent studies have shown that the use of industry-preferred controllers, or "Smart Controllers", frequently increases water use as well as energy consumption. The only industry accepted test methods available for controllers do not test for water conservation, but rather measure the efficiency of applying adequate amounts of water supplies to landscapes.”

The CEC mandate on irrigation equipment encompasses more than just smart controllers.  According to Lorraine White of the CEC, the suspension is not permanent.  Once additional funding becomes available, the CEC plans to continue investigating performance standards for other irrigation equipment such as rain and soil moisture sensors.  The Alliance for Water Efficiency will continue to report on this important process once the suspension is lifted.

National Water Policy Event Held in Washington, DC

Congress_clipCongressional leaders, government officials, and key water stakeholders gathered on the evening of July 28, 2009 in Washington, DC for a discussion of national water policy issues and for a viewing of the film “The American Southwest:  Are we Running Dry?”  The event was co-sponsored by a number of national water organizations, including the Alliance for Water Efficiency.  Congressmen Markey (D-MA), Blumenauer (D-OR), Costa (D-CA), and Linder (R-GA) were speakers, as were Peter Silva, Assistant Administrator for the EPA Office of Water, Michael Connor, Commissioner of the US Bureau of Reclamation, and Steve Stockton, Director of Civil Works for the US Army Corps of Engineers.  A distinguished panel of stakeholders discussed the issues and the need for developing a comprehensive national water policy in the United States.

California to Adopt Dual Plumbing Standards

 In response to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s drought declaration and the recommendation of the 2002 Recycled Water Task Force, the California Department of Water Resources is in the process of adopting statewide standards to install both potable and recycled water plumbing systems within buildings.

This Dual Plumbing Code, once adopted, will be incorporated into the California Plumbing Code.  The recycled water uses allowed in structures includes: floor trap priming, cooling towers, and air conditioning devices, as well as toilet and urinal flushing. The Code applies to structures including: commercial, retail, and office buildings, theaters, auditoriums, condominium projects, schools, hotels, apartments, barracks, dormitories, jails, prisons, and reformatories, and others as determined by the State Department of Public Health.  Read more about this effort here

California Adopts Rules Permitting Use of Graywater

California regulators have opened the floodgates for using “gray water” by issuing an emergency decision that allows residents to create simple water-reuse systems without a construction permit.

The new California state rules provide permit exemptions for some residential graywater systems, but people still have to follow several requirements. They include:

  • The system must allow users to direct water to an irrigation field or the sewer.
  • Ponding and gray-water runoff are prohibited.
  • Gray water can be released above ground, but the discharge point must be covered by at least 2 inches of mulch, rock or other material that minimizes human contact.
  • Water used to wash diapers or other soiled garments must be sent to the sewer.
  • Gray water shouldn't be used on root vegetables.

Click here to read more California's new standards for graywater systems.

Tickets Available Now for the AWE/EPA WaterSense Partner of the Year Awards Banquet

Get your tickets now for the AWE/EPA WaterSense Partner of the Year Awards Banquet on October 7 in Las Vegas!  Tickets are $75 each and can be purchased directly from AWE (email Molly Garcia) or can also be ordered from the WaterSmart Innovations Conference On-Line Registration Form so that you can sign up for both the conference and the banquet at the same time. If you have already registered for the conference, you can go back and revise your registration on the conference web site or simply contact AWE for tickets.

When making travel plans for the WaterSmart Innovations Conference, don't forget about the AWE meetings taking place before the conference on Tuesday, October 6th.  More details can be found on the AWE Calendar.

AWE Wins Education and Outreach Award from UCOWR

UCOWR Award PhotoOn July 8, 2009 the Universities Council on Water Resources (UCOWR) presented the Alliance for Water Efficiency with its 2009 Education and Outreach Award, given to recognize educational institutions, individuals, groups or agencies that have made significant contributions to increased public awareness of water resources development, use, or management covering any one or a combination of the natural, biological and social sciences.    Mary Ann Dickinson, Executive Director of the Alliance, received the award at the UCOWR conference held July 7-9 in Chicago.

Toilet Experts Urge Caution on Un-Tested Dual-Flush Toilet Retrofit Devices

International toilet experts John Koeller and Bill Gauley have issued a cautionary statement about devices that convert standard toilets into dual-flush toilets.  In the statement the authors note that these devices have not yet been independently tested for efficacy or water savings in the lab or the field.  The authors urge caution in the “purchase, endorsement, or subsidy of these after-market devices”.  Download the full text of the cautionary statement here

AWE Issues WaterSense New Homes Specification Comments

On Tuesday July 7, 2009 the Alliance for Water Efficiency submitted comments for the WaterSense Revised New Homes Draft Specification.  Highlights of the submitted comments include: 

  • A discussion of competing WaterSense and ENERGY STAR criteria.
  • A recommendation for metering of all WaterSense new homes, even if they are not connected to a public water system.
  • A recommendation that all hot water pipes be insulated.
  • Clarification on shower control requirements for larger stalls.
  • A recommendation to limit the reservoir capacity of re-circulating shower systems to 20 gallons.
  • Recommendations to include whole house humidifiers and bathtubs in the specification.
  • Recommendations to improve the definition of “landscapable area”.
  • A recommendation to alter the ET adjustment factor annually to improve outdoor efficiency.
  • A recommendation to include soil preparation requirements.
  • A recommendation to include a master irrigation shut-off valve.

The full text of comments are available on the AWE's WaterSense page.

WaterSense Issues Notice of Intent to Label Pre-Rinse Spray Valves

watersenseLogoEPA’s WaterSense and ENERGY STAR® programs are teaming up to develop a specification for high-efficiency pre-rinse spray valves. EPA wants to capitalize on the tremendous water and energy savings opportunity, improve and promote the use of more efficient pre-rinse spray valves, and help commercial and institutional kitchen, restaurant, and grocery managers make informed purchasing decisions to reduce their water and energy use, without sacrificing performance.

As a first step, EPA has issued a notification of intent (NOI) (PDF) to develop a specification for high-efficiency pre-rinse spray valves. This notice of intent (NOI) outlines EPA's approach to developing the draft specification, the efficiency and performance criteria EPA is working to define, and the technical issues that still need to be resolved related to these products.  Learn more here.

LA Mandates Efficient Fixtures in New Buildings

By a 13-0 vote, the Los Angeles, California City Council has approved an ordinance that requires all new buildings to have high-efficiency faucets, toilets, urinals, shower heads and other plumbing devices.

Officials with the Department of Water and Power said the water conservation ordinance, which is part of the city’s Green Building program, would reduce water consumption in new buildings by 20%.

High-efficiency devices also will be required when property owners upgrade their plumbing fixtures, city officials said. As more fixtures are installed, “water conservation will become a way of life without people even having to think about it,” said DWP General Manager H. David Nahai.  Read more here or download the text of the ordinance here.

Study Finds Climate Change Impacts on Colorado River Could Be Severe

As the West warms, a drier Colorado River system could see as much as a one-in-two chance of fully depleting all of its reservoir storage by mid-century assuming current management practices continue on course, according to a new University of Colorado at Boulder study. The study, published in the American Geophysical Union journal, Water Resources Research, looked at the effects of a range of reductions in Colorado River stream flow on future reservoir levels and the implications of different management strategies. Roughly 30 million people depend on the Colorado River -- which hosts more than a dozen dams along its 1,450 journey from Colorado's Rocky Mountains to the Gulf of California -- for drinking and irrigation water.  Read more here.

California Issues Draft Climate Change Adaptation Strategy for Comment

CaliforniaA first-of-its-kind multi-sector strategy to help guide California's efforts in adapting to climate change impacts is now available for public comment. In cooperation and partnership with multiple state agencies, the 2009 California Climate Adaptation Strategy Discussion Draft summarizes the best known science on climate change impacts in seven specific sectors and provides recommendations on how to manage against those threats. The release of the draft document sets in motion a 45-day public comment period.  Learn more and submit comments here.

EPA Seeks Program Administrators for WaterSense Labeled New Homes Certification System

EPA has issued the WaterSense New Home Certification System and is seeking program administrators to assist them. There is a formal application process for all program administrators interested in providing services for WaterSense. For more information and a copy of the final WaterSense new home certification system click here. 

New Pacific Institute Report Addresses California Agriculture

ag imageA new Pacific Institute report released July 22, Sustaining California Agriculture in an Uncertain Future, suggests that California agriculture can flourish despite diminishing water supply and future uncertainty from climate change -- but it will require great strides in increasing the water efficiency of the agricultural sector.

Many farmers and irrigation districts have already been making water-use efficiency improvements. Yet the analysis estimates that potential water savings of 4.5 - 6 million acre-feet each year can be achieved by expanding the use of efficient irrigation technologies and management practices.  Learn more and download the report here.

Efficient 2009, in Sydney, Australia Brings International Flair to Water Efficiency

 Efficient2009, scheduled for Oct. 25-28, 2009 in Sydney Australia, brings together the community of researchers, practitioners, regulators and suppliers who, between them, work on achieving maximum efficiency of water use, across the world’s cities.

Australia has a legacy of a dry and variable climate, not to mention the added impacts of climate change. Efficiency practitioners here have valuable experiences to share, but are also keen to learn from colleagues around the world. The conference organizers expect a very cosmopolitan mix of delegates, many of whom are now part of the efficiency ‘family’, having a shared passion for this topic.  The Alliance’s Executive Director, Mary Ann Dickinson, will be one of the keynoters in this conference.

If you can make it down under this October this should be an excellent and informative event.  Download the detailed registration brochure here.  

GWPC and DOE Host Water/Energy Sustainability Symposium

On September 13-16 in Salt Lake City, Utah the Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will host the first Water/Energy Sustainability Symposium to address challenges in meeting future water and energy needs. This innovative Symposium will bring together leaders from government, energy and water industries, academia, water organizations, and other stakeholders, to chart a collaborative course toward sustainability for both resources.  Learn more here.

Registration Opens for the 15th Annual Water Conservation and Xeriscape Expo

Xeri NMThe 15th Water Conservation Conference by the Xeriscape Council of New Mexico to be held February 25-26, 2010 in Albuquerque, is currently open for registration.

The 2010 conference will focus on land use – water use connections. This annual event typically attracts over 400 mostly professionals from about 25 states.

New Model Assesses Groundwater Availability in the Central Valley Aquifer, California

A new, three-dimensional water-modeling tool provides a detailed picture of how water flows below ground and how it relates to surface-water in rivers and canals in California’s Central Valley.

The Central Valley Hydrologic Model, developed by scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey, is available for use by water managers and other agencies. The model was designed to help resource agencies assess, understand and address the many issues affecting the joint use of surface- and groundwater supplies – known as “conjunctive use” – in the Central Valley.

“This new model not only details the current scarcity of groundwater, but also provides a scientific tool to help water managers remedy the situation in the future,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. “Science can be invaluable in helping to provide solutions.”   Download the full report here.

Aspen Institute Panel Addresses National Infrastructure Needs

Aspen InstituteA new document from the Aspen Institute summarizes a dialogue by national experts on drinking water infrastructure and outlines 10 major points of agreement by this group.  The Aspen Institute wrote the text of the report, pulling language and insights from the discussion during four meetings over the course of a year. 

The report, while taking a hard and new look at the definition of water infrastructure, does solve all the issues of sustainable infrastructure funding or gaps thereto. Most notably, the group did not reach consensus on issues regarding which funding mechanisms are appropriate to finance a modern view of water infrastructure, including the utility of a federal trust fund.  Download the Aspen Institute Report Here

Saving Water Could Cut Water-Heating Emissions by 30%, Report Finds

Britons could save 30% of the carbon emissions associated with heating water at home by following simple advice such as insulating pipes and using low-flow taps, according to energy experts.

They estimate that installing just a few water-saving measures could save a typical household £225 (~$400) per year on combined water and energy bills.

In a joint report, the Energy Saving Trust and the Environment Agency examined the carbon impact of domestic water use in the UK.  They concluded that heating water would continue to be a major source of carbon emissions from homes in the future unless urgent action was taken to reduce demand and the associated energy losses from inefficient boilers.

Energy STAR Program Targets Old Clothes Washers

Looking for energy (and water) savings ideas to share with your members or customers?

Energy STAR reminds us that clothes washers manufactured before 1999 use more than 4 times the energy of today's efficient models and are wasting nearly 30 gallons of water every time someone does a load of laundry. Over the lifetime of the washer, consumers could be wasting water equivalent to ten and a half years of daily baths! The U.S. Department of Energy has announced the Energy STAR Make a Clean Change: Recycle Your Old Washer Campaign. Found at www.energystar.gov/recycle, this campaign encourages consumers to properly recycle their old washers and, if needed, replace them with new Energy STAR qualified models.

Israel Adopts Tax on Excess Water Use (aka Budget-Based Rates)

Israel has implemented new tax on excessive household water consumption.  This policy took effect in July and is expected to save about 15,850 million gallons of water a year (43.4 MGD). A family of four is allowed 8,453 gallons every two months (4.2 kgal per month) and larger families receive an additional 1,110 gallons per person per month. Households that exceed their allotment are likely to pay hundreds of extra shekels as part of the excess use tax.

Water experts Ofer Alon and Shimon Tzuk, along with the Israel Water Authority, advised the public to save water painlessly by changing their habits (taking shorter showers and using a dishwasher instead of doing dishes by hand, for example) and installing inexpensive equipment to reduce water pressure in kitchens and bathrooms. A dual-flush toilet tank was also recommended.

Dead Sea Canal Plan Approved

dead-seaThe World Bank approved a loan of $1.25 billion US to build a canal linking the Red Sea to the Dead Sea, a move that will give new life to a much-discussed but much-delayed project. Israeli Development Minister Sylvan Shalom made the announcement after a meeting with World Bank President Robert Zoellick in Washington, DC.

The Dead Sea, which has been steadily drying out, is in urgent need of replenishment, and the pilot stage of the proposal will run a channel from the Red Sea to recharge it. Half of the seawater will feed a giant desalination plant, to be operated jointly by Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority. In the second stage, a bigger canal would supply 2 billion cubic meters of water a year to maintain and increase water levels in the Dead Sea.   Read more here.

News Briefs and Web Links

  • Water crisis covered on the Daily Show. Jon Stewart interviewed Robert Glennon about his new book and the water crisis (Unquenchable: America's Water Crisis and What To Do About It).  Did Stewart actually manage to make water funny?  You bet.  Worth watching to the end. http://www.hulu.com/watch/83493/the-daily-show-with-jon-stewart-robert-glennon#s-p1-st-i1
  • Water/Energy Sustainability Symposium. The Ground Water Protection Council will be holding the Water/Energy Sustainability Symposium at the 2009 GWPC Annual Forum in Salt Lake City, Utah September 13-17 of this year.  Lear more here.
  • Infrstructure.  Redefining Water Infrastructure for the 21st Century.  Former EPA Asst. Administrator for Water, G. Tracy Mehan III discusses water planning in the modern age.
  • Texas drought.  Officials in Texas from both the agriculture and livestock industries are concerned about a massive drought throughout many portions of the state. Don Teague of CBS News reports on this topic from Bryan, Texas. Watch the video here.
  • Efficiency savings.  A new report on energy efficiency found that the United States could save $1.2 trillion dollars by 2020, by investing $520 billion in improvements such as sealing building ducts and more efficient refrigerators.  Read the NY Times article on this new report here.
  • Water and the developing world.  Watch the trailer of a documentary film dealing with water issues and the importance of water in development around the world.
  • Shorter showers? Interesting piece on behavior change using showering as an example.  Taking Shorter Showers Doesn't Cut It: Why Personal Change Does Not Equal Political Change – from Orion Magazine.
  • CA Aqueduct.  Officials fear the California Aqueduct could sink…again.  Read more here.
  • SF Bay Water Tunnel.  Hoping to protect one of the San Francisco Bay Area's main water supplies after the next major earthquake, construction crews will soon embark on a job that sounds like something out of a Jules Verne novel: building a massive, 5-mile-long tunnel underneath San Francisco Bay.  The project is believed to be the first major tunnel ever built across the bay.
  • Nestlé's Faustian Bargain.  Communities across the country are fighting back as Nestle tries to drain their water and their finances. When Nestlé Waters North America, the world's largest bottler of water, comes a-courting, promising jobs and increased tax revenues in exchange for local water rights, many small, rural towns get nervous.  Read more here.
  • Tuscon Rainwater Regs.  Tucson's rainwater harvesting ordinance has recently attracted national attention even though it does not take effect until 1 June 2010. It's the first such municipal ordinance that requires rainwater harvesting for new commercial developments.  
  • Phoenix heat.  It’s been a hot summer in Phoenix. The National Weather Service reports that the average temperature for the first two weeks in July (figuring in highs and lows) -- was 97.8 degrees. That's the fifth-hottest first two weeks of July on record at Sky Harbor International Airport.
  • Two for the loo.  Tea for two and two for tea – a loo for you and a loo for me.  The TwoDaLoo offers a dual toilet experience.  Click hear to learn more about this new take on the “two holer”
  • There's water out there...somewhere.  Need more water?  Space is the place! Researchers at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas, found new evidence of liquid water on Enceladus, a frozen moon of the planet Saturn. Investigator William Lewis said that ammonia, the isotope deuterium, and various organic components had been detected in a geyser spouting from the moon's South Pole. Ammonia acts as an antifreeze, so even though the surface temperature is around 100 degrees C below zero, it's possible that significant amounts of water lie below the surface, Lewis explained.

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.

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.