Water Efficiency Watch January 2009

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 Signs Historic Memorandum of Understanding Forming a Water Efficiency Research Coalition 

MOU signingThe Alliance for Water Efficiency participated in a historic signing ceremony on Tuesday, January 6, held at the Offices of EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson. AWE pledged to partner with four other plumbing organizations in coordinating water efficiency research. The four other groups signing were as follows: The Plumbing Heating and Cooling Contractors, the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials, the International Code Council, and the Plumbing Manufacturers Institute.

The Memorandum of Understanding that was signed by all parties creates a coalition, lead by the Alliance for Water Efficiency, seeking to work on specific plumbing research initiatives. Sample projects that might be undertaken include drainline carry research for high efficiency toilets, non-water-using urinals, sizing of water efficient plumbing systems, and safe applications for re-use of water.

“The Alliance for Water Efficiency is pleased to be able to participate in this historic unity of the nation’s plumbing organizations on the subject of water efficiency research. By joining forces, we can collectively better use our resources to advance water efficiency research in areas where there is a common interest and need,” said Executive Director Mary Ann Dickinson. “We want to make sure that as we move forward with changes in water efficiency requirements, those changes are based on solid research in the field."

The Memorandum of Understanding does not commit any funds at this time. Funds for worthy projects will be sought from government agencies, foundations, and other interested parties. Learn more and download the MOU here .

WaterSense News 

Draft High-Efficiency Flushing Urinal Specification Issued

watersenseLogoWaterSense has released a draft Specification for High-Efficiency Flushing Urinals that provides the criteria that flushing urinals will need to meet to earn the WaterSense label. The specification is designed to ensure not only sustainable, efficient water use but also a high level of user performance satisfaction. To meet the draft specification, the maximum flush volume of flushing urinal fixtures and their pressurized flushing devices (flushometer valves) cannot exceed 0.5 gallons per flush (gpf). By installing these high-efficiency flushing urinals, facilities will be able to save more than 2,300 gallons of water per fixture each year!

Once the specification is finalized, manufacturers of these products can apply for product certification. Pressurized flushing devices, urinal fixtures, or complete urinal systems meeting the final specification will bear the WaterSense label. This will help purchasers and specifiers to easily identify flushing urinals that perform well while still saving water.

With the announcement of this draft specification, manufacturers, retailers, and distributors that produce or sell high-efficiency pressurized flushing devices and/or flushing urinal fixtures are invited to join the program. Manufacturers that become WaterSense partners commit to labeling products that meet the specification within one year. Please visit the Partners section of the WaterSense web site for more information on joining as well as the specification development process.

Draft Certification and Inspection Specification Released

WaterSense has released draft certification system, inspection guidelines, and irrigation audit guidelines for water-efficient single-family new homes. The public is invited to provide comments on these draft documents until February 16, 2009. Click here to visit the EPA New Home Specification website. Comments should be sent to the WaterSense Team.

AWE Advises Obama Transition Team on Investment in Water Efficiency as Stimulus and Long-Term Investment 

barack obamaThe Alliance for Water Efficiency advised President-Elect Barack Obama’s transition team about the employment potential and economic benefits of broad investments in water efficiency. AWE has prepared a position paper titled, “ Transforming Water: Water Efficiency as Stimulus and Long-Term Investment .” The intent of the paper is to show that water efficiency programs yield jobs, water savings and other economic benefits and will be a cost-effective investment to consider for the stimulus package. It has been reported that this document is already being used to help inform future national policy.

The AWE position paper had the following key findings:

  • Direct investment on the order of $10 billion in water/energy efficiency programs can boost U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by $13 to $15 billion and employment by 150,000 to 220,000 jobs. It could save up to 10 trillion gallons of water, with resulting energy reductions as well.
  • Water/energy efficiency programs can be rapidly deployed and scaled to need. The paper provides a formula to use for scaling jobs to amount of investment.
  • Some of the best opportunities for conservation investment are in lower-income areas where water distribution infrastructure has not been adequately maintained or replaced and where household and commercial appliance stocks tend to be older and less efficient.
  • The long-term strategic, economic, social, and environmental benefits of water/energy efficiency program make them “no-regret” investments in the nation’s future.
  • Investing in water/energy efficiency programs now will, over the longer term, help advance national energy policy, promote sustainable resource use, contribute towards Green House Gas emissions reduction, and lessen mounting regional conflicts over water resources.

Learn more here .

AWE Prepares Master List of Water Efficiency Projects 

Opportunity knocks. Green infrastructure and water efficiency retrofits are being considered in the creation of the economic stimulus package. AWE is asking utilities and other appropriate entities to supply a list of water efficiency and conservation projects that could hit the ground running immediately (within 6 months to 2 years) if federal stimulus dollars were made available. The following information is needed no later than January 15:

      1.  Description of program (for example, toilet, landscape management, water loss management, etc.)
      2.  Geographical location of program
      3.  Estimated total cost of program activity
      4. Estimated number of activity units (for example, number of toilets, water audits, etc.)
      5. Estimated water savings
      6. Estimated time frame

AWE is assembling a master list of projects and will send it to the drafting team in Washington.  Please e-mail your list of projects to Bill Christiansen at AWE.

AWE Joins Requests for Federal Green Infrastructure Stimulus Funding in Canada

Canada flagA consortium of water and environmental groups including the Alliance for Water Efficiency has proposed a sustainable water infrastructure plan entitled, Clean Water, Green Jobs: A Stimulus Package for Sustainable Water Infrastructure Investments to the Federal Government. The plan was developed in response to the possible acceleration of the Government of Canada’s $33 billion Building Canada Plan and possible expanded infrastructure investments to stimulate the economy.

The plan contains solutions that can be deployed quickly and broadly, creating jobs and stimulating the economy faster than traditional infrastructure projects. The plan focuses on investments in repairing and upgrading existing infrastructure, restoring green infrastructure, and conserving water and energy.

The groups participating in the effort included: The Forum for Leadership on Water (FLOW), along with the Canadian Water and Wastewater Association, the University of Victoria's POLIS project on Ecological Governance and AWE. Learn more here .

Drought Strains Dwindling Colorado River

Adapted from the Salt Lake Tribune 

grand canyonThe drought gripping Utah, Southern California and much of the Southwest this century shows no sign of ending. The strong “La Nina” effect measured in the Pacific in late 2008 could signal another year of below average precipitation for California. Scientists are starting to view the drought as a permanent condition that, despite year-to-year weather variations, will deepen as temperatures rise, snows dwindle, soils bake, and fires burn.

That's grim news for all in the western U.S., and perhaps most acutely for the 10 million residents along the northern stretch of the Colorado River in Utah, New Mexico, Wyoming and Colorado whose water rights are newer, and therefore junior, to those in Southern California, Nevada and Arizona.

Scientists warn that the Colorado River – the 1,450-mile-long lifeline that sustains more than 30 million people and 3.5 million acres of farmland in seven states, 34 tribal nations and Mexico – is in decline.

California, with the most senior rights and the largest share of the Colorado under a 1922 law, is struggling with a statewide water shortage. California already uses all of its Colorado River allocation. As the drought has worsened, Southern Californians have labored to keep the taps running through a host of conservation measures and programs.

Meanwhile, water managers in Utah and the Upper Basin are working to get all of their water rights in use, even as their cities and counties register some of the highest per-capita consumption in the nation.

Demand is up. Flows are down. Something has to give. And when it does, Utah could be in trouble if it doesn't change its wasteful ways – just as 19th-century explorer Maj. John Wesley Powell predicted.  Read more here

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Issues Rules to Protect Delta Smelt; California Water Supplies Could be Impacted

Adapted from the Sacramento Bee 

Delta SmeltMany Californians could see their water supply cut under new federal rules to protect threatened fish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

The rules, released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, govern water-pumping operations by the California Department of Water Resources and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The agencies operate massive water diversion systems that export Delta water for farm and urban purposes from Silicon Valley to San Diego. Two-thirds of Californians get at least some of their water from the Delta. Delta water also irrigates nearly 3 million acres of farmland.

These water diversions have pushed the Delta smelt to the edge of extinction. Declining populations of this fingerling fish, native to the estuary, triggered the Federal Endangered Species Act. The new rules, called a biological opinion, were prepared under a federal court order that found existing regulations inadequate.

California DWR estimated that, in average weather years, the cuts could range from 20 to 30 percent. However, in roughly one out of five years – typically a wet fall followed by a severe dry year – the cutbacks could reach 50 percent.

"This will have significant impacts in the agricultural community and it probably will start having an impact on economic development in urban areas because the water supply is becoming less certain," said DWR Director Lester Snow.  Read more here

“Abrupt Climate Change” Report Puts Global Warming on Fast Track 

green globeThe U.S. Climate Change Science Program has released a new report, "Abrupt Climate Change" that further reinforces the need for regional scale water use efficiency planning and implementation – and without delay.

Commissioned by the U.S. Climate Change Science Program, the report was authored by experts from the U.S. Geological Survey, Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and other leading institutions.

According to the report, the United States could suffer the effects of abrupt climate change within decades – much sooner than previously thought. The report contends that seas could rise rapidly if melting of polar ice continues to outrun recent projections. Furthermore, the ongoing drought in the Western U.S. could be the start of permanent drying for the region.

In the interior United States, a widespread drought that began in the Southwest about 6 years ago could be the leading edge of a new climate regime for a wider region. Edward Cook, a climatologist at Lamont-Doherty and a lead author of the new study, who heads Lamont's Tree Ring Lab, said that periodic droughts over the past 1,000 years have been driven by natural cycles in air circulation, and that these cycles appear to be made more intense and persistent by warming.

Among the new research cited is a 2007 Science paper by Lamont climate modeler Richard Seager, showing how changes in temperature over the Pacific have driven large-scale droughts across western North America.

"We have no smoking gun saying that humans are causing the current changes. But the past is a cautionary tale," Cook said. "What this tells us is that the system has the ability to lock into periods of profound, long-lasting aridity. And there is the suggestion that these changes are related to warmer climate.”

Download the full report and summary information here

High-Efficiency Toilets in Non-Residential Applications – Caution Advised 

By Bill Gauley and John Koeller

Caution signThere are two primary concerns related to the proper operation of toilet fixtures - flushing performance and drainline carry. While it is straightforward to define an adequate level of flushing performance (we want the toilet to remove all of the waste from the bowl in a single flush), it is far more difficult to define how far a toilet flush should transport this waste through the building drain piping to the sewer. There are many factors to consider when attempting assessing drainline carry performance (e.g. how much waste is being flushed, what type of waste is being flushed, what is the diameter and slope of the drainline, what is the age and physical condition of the drain).

The current ASME /CSA drainline carry testing protocol uses non-realistic test media (¾-inch plastic balls). Furthermore, this testing protocol uses the same testing procedure regardless of whether toilet fixtures are residential or commercial models. Therefore, we believe that this protocol fails to adequately address the concern of real waste movement in the drain system. This is somewhat disconcerting since we know (a) that there is a clear difference between ¾-inch balls and real waste and (b) that there are significant differences between residential and commercial toilet installations. For example:

  • Commercial fixtures are often installed on 4-inch diameter drain pipes set at a 1-percent slope whereas residential fixtures are typically installed on 3-inch diameter pipes set at a 2-percent slope
  • Commercial toilets, which are often required to flush paper toilet seat covers, paper towels, large amounts of toilet paper, and the like are typically subjected to a much greater waste loading than residential toilets
  • The lengths of drain runs are often much longer in commercial installations, and
  • Supplemental flows are often much less in commercial installations (supplemental flows from bathing and clothes washing help transport waste through drainlines).

Learn more here .

AWE Launches Online Publications Ordering Page 

The Alliance for Water Efficiency recently added an online publication order form to its website. This makes it easy to order three great books that are valuable water management tools and which are a MUST for your conservation library. Click here to view the form and see the books the Alliance has for sale at special prices.

2009 WaterSmart Innovations Conference and Exposition Issues Call for Abstracts 

WaterSmart Innovations09 LogoLAS VEGAS – Experts in the field of water efficiency are invited to submit abstracts for the second WaterSmart Innovations Conference and Exposition, slated for Oct. 7-9, 2009, in Las Vegas.

The deadline for submitting abstracts is Jan. 30, 2009. Professionals, scientists, government employees, organizations, public and private institutions, policy makers, students and all others working in an industry related to water efficiency are invited to submit an abstract for an oral presentation, panel discussion or workshop.

Potential topics include:

  • Conservation and Incentive Program Management
  • Drought Management Planning
  • Alternate Sources
  • Rainwater/Greywater/Stormwater Harvesting
  • Sustainable Construction and Development
  • High Efficiency Fixtures and Appliances
  • Policy Development/Public Outreach
  • Landscapes and Outdoor Water Use
  • Marketing Conservation Programs
  • Education (youth, adult)

Candidates chosen as presenters will be notified by e-mail and postal mail no later than March 15, 2009. A complete list of topics and submittal guidelines is available at www.WaterSmartInnovations.com.

Pacific Institute Releases “The World’s Water 2006-2007” 

Worlds water pacinstThe fifth volume in the highly regarded biennial series, The World’s Water 2006-2007, is now available. Pacific Institute President and series editor Peter Gleick convened Pacific Institute staff and others in presenting the latest edition, covering some of the most significant current worldwide water issues:

  • water and terrorism,
  • preserving and restoring instream water allocations,
  • an update of seawater desalination,
  • the growing risks of floods and droughts,
  • environmental justice for water,
  • water risks facing industry, and
  • updated information on bottled water, international disputes over water, and the discovery of water on Mars.

Learn more and obtain a copy of the report here

Toilet to Tap on International Space Station 

Int space stationAfter five days of tinkering, astronauts aboard the International Space Station ran their first successful test in December of equipment that turns urine into drinking water.

Delivered to the station by the Space Shuttle Endeavor, the $154 million water recycling system, which also processes sweat and moisture from the air (reminiscent of the still suits from the sci-fi classic Dune), is designed to quench astronauts' thirst while requiring fewer costly re-supply missions. Samples of the recycled water will be tested back on earth before astronauts aboard the station can start drinking from the system's tap.

This raises a question: Can we build these things on earth? Maybe even for a little less than $154 million? Learn more here

International Water Efficiency Conference Scheduled for Sydney in October 2009 

The fifth International Water Association specialist conference on efficient use and management of urban water supply will be held October 25-28, 2009 in Sydney, Australia. Don't miss this wonderful gathering of international water efficiency advocates! The deadline for abstract submittal is January 30, 2009. For more information regarding abstract submittal click here.  For general conference information click here.  See you in Sydney!

California Irrigation Institute 2009 Conference and Meeting 

The California Irrigation Institute is holding a conference February 3-4, 2009 in Sacramento, California titled, "Modern Water Witching: New Supply, Technology and Policy." Outdoor landscape irrigation issues and smart controller technology will be featured. General conference information, program, and registration information can be found on the California Irrigation Institute web site.

AWWA Water Conservation Workshop Slated for Portland, OR in January 

The early registration deadline for the AWWA Water Conservation Workshop being held January 25-27 in Portland, Oregon has been extended until January 19th. For those planning to attend the conference, a list of committee meetings is provided below:

Saturday, January 24: 

  • 8am - 4pm - Water Resource Sustainability Division, Sellwood Room

Sunday, January 25: 

  • 8:00 - 11am - Water Efficiency Program & Technology Committee, Mt. Hood Room
  • 8:30-10am - Planning, Evaluation & Research Committee, Sellwood Room
  • 10:00 -11:30am - Communication, Education & Legislation Committee, Sellwood Room
  • 11am-12noon - WaterWiser Steering Committee, Ross Island Room
  • 1:00 - 3:00pm - Water Conservation Division, Mt. Hood Room

Monday, January 26: 

  • 5:30-7:30pm - Source Water Protection Committee, Ross Island Room

Tuesday, January 27: 

  • 12:15-1:15pm - Water Resources Planning & Management Committee, Ross Island Room

Green Plumbers Issues 2009 Training Schedule 

GreenPlumbers is has released their 2009 Workshop Schedule, which includes a new Train the Trainer series, the enticing GreenPlumbers Hawaii Conference, and the WaterSmart Innovations '09 Conference in Las Vegas. The organization is in discussions to develop and co-brand a GreenPlumbers Professional Series certificate program that will expand the GreenPlumbers name and curriculum to universities and colleges throughout the US and Canada. The Professional Series will be aimed at architects, engineers, designers and builders, and will further establish the integrity and value of the GreenPlumbers brand.

2009 World Water Week in Stockholm Sweden Announced

world water weekWorld Water Week in Stockholm will be held, August 16-22, 2009 with the theme: Water - Responding to Global Change: Accessing Water for the Common Good with Special Focus on Transboundary Waters.

The World Water Week provides a unique forum for leaders in science, civil society, business and governments to deliberate and chart practical actions on key water-related challenges. Every year, Stockholm is the global platform to craft solutions, measure progress, and follow-up on international processes.

To learn about convening a seminar or side event or submitting an abstract for presentation during workshops, visit the official web site.  Abstracts are due February 1, 2009.

World City Water Forum, Korea

The World City Water Forum will take place in Songdo International City, Korea, on August 18-21, 2009. Many topics crucial to urban water issues will be addressed. These are posted at the official website.  Abstracts are due: January 15, 2009 and can be sent directly to: choi@arizona.edu.

International Water Conservation and Xeriscape Conference to be Held in Albuquerque

Xeri NMThe International Water Conservation & Xeriscape Conference will be held in Albuquerque, NM on 26-27 February 2009. It will be held in conjunction with the 2009 Water Conservation and Xeriscape Expo, February 28 to March 1, 2009. The Expo is free to the public and will feature more than 250 exhibitor spaces.

Both are sponsored by the Xeriscape Council of New Mexico and are great events that have grown in stature since they were first held in 2000.

Water Efficiency Watch News Briefs and Web Sites of Note 

“Water Neutral” is Different Than “Carbon Neutral”

"Corporate Water Footprinting: Towards a Sustainable Water Strategy" a paper by a group of scientists from Twente University in the Netherlands, UNESCO, and other reputable institutions, points out that, "The idea of 'water neutral' is different from 'carbon neutral,' because it is theoretically possible to generate enough energy without emitting carbon. Alternative names to 'water neutral' that have been suggested include water offset, water stewardship, and water use reduction and reuse. Learn more here

Adapting California’s Water Management to Climate Change

This new report by Ellen Hanak and Jay Lund addresses urban water management and flood control. Download a free copy here

Eliminating Cafeteria Trays – New Water Conservation Measure?


Australians Rush to Filter Fluoride from Water


Irrigation Association Forms IrrigationPAC to Lobby for Efficient Automatic Irrigation


Los Angelenos Conserving Effectively

With drought conditions persisting in the Southland and around the state, Angelenos have been heeding appeals to conserve water. Learn more here. 

Bottled Water Overload – Where Have All the Water Fountains Gone?


UK Water Demand Management Bulletin – New Issue

In this issue:  WaterWise evidence base, climate change and river flows, UK leakage conference, hospital savings, and much more. 

Institute of Water and Watersheds’ Fall Lecture Series Available On-Line

When Water Does Run Uphill: The Economics and Politics of Water in the 21st Century. Learn more here

Circle of Blue Tackles Global Freshwater Crisis

Circle of Blue is an international network of leading journalists, scientists and communications designers that reports and presents the information necessary to respond to the global freshwater crisis. Circle of Blue also publishes WaterNews, the daily go-to source for global water news and data. Learn more here

Redneck Water Conservation

Hilarious comedy sketch that should not be taken as an endorsement of the practices shown. Watch video 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.

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.