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...

Major Water Efficiency Bill Moves Through Congress

congressWater efficiency is finally making in-roads at the federal level.   HR 2368, the Water Advanced Technologies for Efficient Resource Use (WATER) Act, was offered as an amendment by Rep. McNerney (CA-11) to the Waxman–Markey climate bill on May 20, 2009, and this amendment was accepted by the House Energy and Commerce committee by a vote of 34 – 21.  This is a significant development, adding water efficiency to the discussions on climate change, and ensuring that this issue will be part of all major discussions on climate going forward.

This water efficiency bill was introduced on May 12 by Reps. Holt and Miller, and provides for up to $150 million dollars in funding for state and local rebate/incentive programs that encourage the early adoption of water efficient products and services.  Additionally, the bill authorizes WaterSense as a permanent EPA program, expands the scope of products covered under the program, and directs the federal government to purchase water efficient products and services. 

AWE will keep members informed on further action as the bill moves through the House.

Texas Plumbing Fixture Legislation Awaits Governor’s Pen

TexasThe State of Texas Senate and House have enacted legislation (H.B. 2667) that specifies performance standards for plumbing fixtures. The bill is now awaiting the Governor's signature. The bill requires all toilets sold on or after January 1, 2014 to be 1.28 gallons per flush or less. This legislation makes Texas only the second state, after California, to enact a mandate on HETs. It is also the first piece of legislation in the United States to directly reference the WaterSense program. A copy of H.B. 2667 can be downloaded here.

NRDC Releases Water Efficiency Report on California CII Water Use

NRDC LogoCalifornia businesses could save more than enough water to supply the cities of Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco. This according to the headline of the National Resource Defense Council's (NRDC) new report, Making Every Drop Work: Increasing Water Efficiency in California's Commercial, Industrial and Institutional (CII) Sector.

NRDC recommendations include: prioritizing water conservation above increasing supply, setting performance-based water savings targets that provide water agencies with flexibility, encouraging volumetric pricing for sewer services, and encouraging partnerships with energy utilities and wastewater agencies.

The report and a fact sheet are available for free download here..

Los Angeles and San Diego Impose Mandatory Drought Restrictions

droughtMandatory drought alert restrictions, including new rules for lawn watering and car washing, have already started in Southern California. The cities of San Diego and Los Angeles imposed drought restrictions effective June 1.

In San Diego, Residents are now only allowed to water their lawn before 10 a.m. or after 6 p.m., three days a week between June and October, and for no more than 10 minutes per zone. They are no longer permitted to wash down sidewalks, driveways, parking areas, tennis courts or patios with a hose.

Enforcement of the San Diego program depends on resident complaints to a hotline, with ten individuals dedicated to investigating, educating citizens and eventually assessing fines if necessary. Learn more about the San Diego drought restrictions here.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) has imposed mandatory drought restrictions that only allow for lawn watering two days a week (Mondays and Thursday) for 15 minutes per watering station from 5 p.m. to 9 a.m.  Learn more about the Los Angeles drought restrictions here.  http://www.ladwp.com/ladwp/cms/ladwp011971.pdf.

Numerous water providers in California are imposing drought restrictions this summer and the rules vary from place to place.  Check with the local water provider in your area for information on drought restrictions before irrigating.

Georgia’s Water Conservation Implementation Plan Released

GeorgiaA plan to help Georgians use water more efficiently and foster a culture of conservation throughout the state was recently released by the Environmental Protection Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Georgia’s Water Conservation Implementation Plan is a resource to guide Georgia’s seven major water use sectors in an effort to help sustain the state’s water resources and provide for a secure water supply in the future.

The plan, developed by the EPD in partnership with the diverse water users of the state, includes sector-specific chapters for business owners, farmers, homeowners, water service providers, landscapers, golf courses and state agencies. Details of the plan include long-term conservation goals for each sector, benchmarks for determining progress, a menu of optional best practices and implementation actions designed to reduce water waste, water loss and, where necessary, water use.

“The ultimate goal of water conservation is not to discourage water use, but to maximize the benefit from each gallon used,” said EPD Director Carol A. Couch. “This plan will guide Georgians toward more efficient and sustainable water use to help ensure that our water resources will continue to support growth and prosperity while maintaining healthy natural systems.”

Georgia’s Water Conservation Implementation Plan is available for download here.

It’s Rice vs. Water in California

RiceThe highest rice prices in almost 30 years have some farmers in the Sacramento Valley spreading water half a foot deep, over hundreds of thousands of acres. That's water that other users had hoped would be available to farmers in the San Joaquin Valley, not to mention urban areas downstate.

Rice prices are peaking this summer largely in response to the drought in Australia and the reduction in rice exports from India.

"Some farms, with low operational costs, are finding it more profitable to grow rice than to sell the water right now," says Teresa Geimer, who runs the state Water Bank at the Department of Water Resources. "And that's good; we don't want the most productive land to go unused."

Read more about the water-intensive rice crop in California here.

Will the Next Resource War be Fought Over Water?

War_missleIt’s often been said that the next resource wars will be fought not over oil but over water.  However, when something is “often said” it is not necessarily true. Seven environmental experts give more nuanced views of water conflicts in the May 14 issue of Seed magazine. They discuss the past and present existence of water wars, consider the difficulty of owning a fluid resource, and examine the hot spots for future conflict.

Mark Zeitoun, David Hatton, Fred Pearce, Tobias Siegfried, Michael E. Campana, Sandra Postel and Peter Gleick shared their thoughts on water-based conflicts.  Their responses might be unexpected.

Gleick said the idea of water wars misses the point: “The debate about water and conflict needs to shift away from international relations theorists and international security academics and toward those who are concerned with a far broader set of issues around human security. From a practical point of view, this means we can stop arguing about whether the conflict in Darfur is ‘about’ water—water is only one of many factors in that particular dispute—and instead work to reduce the role that water plays so that there is one less thing for the peacemakers to deal with.”  Read the complete story here.

California American Accelerates Sacramento Metering Effort

Water meters are finally coming to 29,765 flat-rate water users in Sacramento.   After decades of un-metered use, California American Water plans to accelerate metering efforts in response to the current drought and an executive order issued by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

California American Water began retrofitting customers with meters in 2003, and originally had set of date of 2025 (22 years in the future) to complete the effort.  Fortunately, the project has moved far more quickly and so far 20,700 Sacramento customers have been metered.   California American now anticipates completing the metering project more than a decade ahead of schedule.

"Converting flat rate customers to meters encourages residents to conserve because they are charged for the actual amount of water they use," said Andy Soule, general manager for the company's northern California division. "To me, it's a fairness issue. People should pay for what they use. Metering water usage provides economic incentives to change water use habits."

Sacramento meters at last.  Read the full story here.

Texas Advocates Take Conservation Message to Austin

Texas capitolWith the state’s population booming, the drought worsening and water becoming more scarce, water advocates have urged increased conservation efforts across the state coupled with improved conservation practices and a statewide conservation education campaign.

“Water conservation strategies are critical tools in addressing the water needs of future generations of Texans, and I applaud the efforts of our water conservation leaders and the important work we are doing today,” said Sen. Kip Averitt.

With no state funding, Texas water providers are paying for water conservation education on the local level that has helped to extend the water supply. For instance, the North Texas Municipal Water District has been able to curb projected peak-day water use by 200 million gallons per day after implementing the Water IQ campaign and a conservation ordinance. State public funding supporting a comprehensive water conservation message — similar to the Don’t Mess with Texas litter prevention campaign — is needed to fully meet Texas’ water demands.

Texas water hogsAccording to the Texas Water Development Board’s State Water Plan, conservation must make up 23 percent of Texas’ future water supply by 2060. That’s a total of approximately 2 million acre-feet per year (or conserving the equivalent of two lakes nearly the size of Lake Travis in Austin per year), which is enough to supply half the current annual municipal use in Texas.

Texas’ weather patterns haven’t helped. The  U.S. Drought Monitor Map reports most of south Texas is in an Exceptional Drought  — the highest intensity. Central Texas is in an Extreme Drought  — the second-highest intensity. West Texas ranges from Abnormally Dry to Severe.

“This first annual Texas Water Conservation Day gives Texans an opportunity to learn about how important our water supply and its wise use are,” said John Howard, Chair of the Texas Water Foundation. 

Texas PUENTE BOX AND HOGWater IQ is one example of a water awareness program that has been implemented. In 2004, a statewide study conducted by Baselice & Associates, Inc., in Texas for the Governor's Water Conservation Implementation Task Force revealed a strong connection between knowledge of water sources and willingness to conserve. Water IQ is strategically based on findings of the Baseline study.

“People who know and understand the natural source of their drinking water indicate they are more likely than people who do not know the source of their water to act in ways to save and protect their water supply,” said Mike Baselice, who conducted the survey research efforts upon which Water IQ is based. “We’ve observed this correlation in specific regions of Texas as well as statewide.”

Water IQ is now an official public education program of the State of Texas; it has been tailored to various geographic regions, water sources (underground or groundwater) and weather conditions.

14th Edition of MaP Test Includes Performance Results on 1,000 Toilets

Looking for toilets that work like their supposed to?  Look no farther than the AWE MaP Testing results page.  With the recently released 14th editions, the Maximum Performance Testing regime developed by John Koeller and Bill Gauley now lists 1,000 tested toilet fixtures.  There should be no more discussion or complaints about double flushing or "streaking".  With MaP testing, consumers and conservation program administrators can find a plethora of proven products that save water and get the job done.

CUWCC Conducting Water Conservation Coordinator Training

CUWCCThe California Urban Water Conservation Council (CUWCC) is conducting a Water Conservation Coordinator Training workshop June 24-25 in Novato, CA. The deadline to RSVP is June 20. Click here for a copy details and registration information.

AWWA San Diego Harbor Dinner Cruise

san diego boatThe water conservation community will hold a traditional dinner cruise as part of the AWWA Annual Conference in San Diego on Tuesday, June 16, 2009 at 7:00 pm. Cost for this event is $35 in advance or $40 cash at the dock, a greatly subsidized cost thanks to wonderful sponsors. Be sure to sign up early as space is limited and this is an event not to be missed. For more information, click here.

AWWA Annual Conference and Expo Water Conservation Division Meeting Schedule

The American Water Works Association (AWWA) Water Conservation Division will be holding several committee meetings during this year's AWWA Annual Conference and Expo in San Diego, California. Below is a schedule of the Water Conservation Division meetings.

WaterWiser Advisory Committee    
Sunday, June 14, 7:30am - 8:30am 
San Diego Convention Center, Room: 24C
Water Efficiency Program & Technology Committee
Sunday, June 14, 8:00am - 12:00noon 
San Diego Convention Center, Room: 25B
Planning, Evaluation & Research Committee
Sunday, June 14, 8:00am - 9:30am 
San Diego Convention Center, Room: 25C
Communication, Education & Legislation Committee
Sunday, June 14, 7:00am - 8:30am 
San Diego Convention Center, Room: 25A
Water Conservation Division Meeting
Sunday, June 14, 1:00pm - 4:00pm 
San Diego Convention Center, Room: 33B

NRDC Seeks Senior Water Policy Analyst

The National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) has an immediate opening for a Senior Water Policy Analyst to direct the Water Efficiency Team. The position is likely to be based in NRDC's San Francisco or Los Angeles office. This person will lead NRDC's efforts to advocate for improved water use efficiency, conservation, and recycling in California and nationally, and will direct a team of attorneys and staff engaged in these issues. The successful candidate will also play an important role in the strategic direction of NRDC's new national Water Program. Click  here for a copy of the job announcement.

Clothes Washer Recycling Promoted

Estar_CWClothes 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 with every load of laundry according to ENERGY STAR.

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.

Southwest Hydrology Seeks Articles for Upcoming Issues

The Southwest Hydrology journal has an upcoming issue on "Urban Water Management" and another on “Water Conservation”. The conservation issue will be published in Nov/Dec 2008 and submissions are due by July 1.  The “Urban Water Management” issue will be published in Jan/Feb of 2010. Submissions are due by September 1.  For more information or to submit a paper for consideration, click here.

Drought inCyprus Eases…a Little

cyprusThe island of Cyprus in the Mediterranean, pushed to the edge of disaster by a drought that left reservoirs holding less than 10% of their capacity last spring, now has enough water reserves to last until next year, said Sophocles Aletraris of the Water Development Department. Recent rains have brought storage up to 35.6% of capacity. Although water rationing will remain in place, the Ministry of Agriculture indicated that the provisions might be relaxed somewhat. The government's long-term plan is to become completely independent of varying rainfall patterns by building two more desalination plants in Episkopi and Vasilikos.   Read more about the situation in Cyprus here.

Venture Capitalist Creates New Water Prize to Stimulate Innovation

Tamin Pechet, a principal at Catamount Ventures in San Francisco, wanted to invest in water start-ups, but found a dearth of opportunities even as the world searches for solutions to widespread water scarcity.  Water is a $500 billion business worldwide, but draws a mere 0.5 percent of venture capital.

In response, Pechet co-founded the not-for-profit Imagine H2O (www.imagineh2o.org/) and launched a prize competition aimed at sparking innovation and new business for the water market.

"I think there is a pervasive lack of awareness, not only of water problems, but of water opportunities," said the 30-year-old Pechet.  "There was never any attention given to the concept of water being essentially 'the next energy' as an opportunity for entrepreneurs," he added.

Imagine H2O's first prize is for water efficiency, and Pechet says he expects three finalists who will split the $50,000 prize.  Learn more about the Imagine H2O water prize here.

California Considers Water Efficiency Legislation

It didn’t pass into law in 2009, but a bill to foster water-neutral new development in California - AB 1408 (Krekorian) – is positioned to be re-introduced in the next legislative session.  The measure outlines a program to facilitate water neutral development by allowing developers to offset new demand by funding water-efficiency measures for existing homeowners in their community.

According to the sponsors, this unique bill would offer benefits both for improving water supply and alleviating the housing slump. The idea is to develop new homes that need no additional water supplies and raise the standard for the area's current housing stock. AB 1408 places emphasis on increasing water efficiency in low-income homes by reserving a portion of the offset investments for those customers. 

The East Bay Municipal Utility District has supported the practice of water conservation offsets for a number of years and they also supported AB 1408.  Although the measure did not pass in this session, the bill has reaffirmed interest in making water neutral development a reality in California. The bill sponsors plan to grow the campaign for this measure over the next several months as plan to employ new strategies in the future to put this policy on the books in California. 

Another California water efficiency bill - AB 49 (Feuer & Huffman) – would implement the Governor's call for legislation to require that urban per capita water use be reduced by 20% by 2020 by offering urban water agencies three different methods to calculate their targets, and allowing targets to be met on an individual agency or regional basis. The bill would also require agricultural users to implement best management practices and report on water savings.  This bill has not yet been passed by the California legislature.

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 – 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.