Water Efficiency Watch October - November 2007

News from the Alliance for Water Efficiency


By: Peter Mayer (editor)

Water Efficiency Watch is the online newsletter of the Alliance for Water Efficiency and is supported by the AWWA WaterWiser Steering Committee. Water Efficiency Watch is edited by Peter Mayer.

In this issue of Water Efficiency Watch...

Water Efficiency Watch - October - November 2007


Drought in Southeast Deepens

Drought conditions from North Carolina to Georgia and Florida are more serious than ever with some cities just months away from the end of their normal water supplies. North Carolina, Gov. Michael F. Easley has requested that people stop using water for any purpose “not essential to public health and safety.”

A state of emergency could be declared if voluntary efforts prove ineffective. “Now I don’t want to have to use these powers,” Easley told a meeting of mayors and other city officials. “As leaders of your communities, you know what works best at the local level. I am asking for your help.”

In the Atlanta metropolitan area, which has more than four million people, worst-case analyses show that the city’s main source of water, Lake Lanier, could be drained dry in 90 to 121 days.

image002For nearly 18 months, warm weather has dried crops and browned lawns from North Carolina to Alabama. The Drought Monitor at the National Center for Drought Mitigation shows the region to be in “Exceptional” drought – the most severe level.

Critics have accused officials in the Southeast of being slow to pick up on the vital importance of water conservation as populations grow and supplies are limited.

“In the West, people expect that it’s dry, and you’re going to have drought situations,” said Michael Hayes, director of the National Drought Mitigation Center. “In the Southeast, people think of it as being wet, and I think that mindset makes it tougher to identify worst-case scenarios and plan to that level.”

“Here’s the fly in the ointment,” Mr. Hayes added. “The vulnerability in the Southeast has changed. Population shifts, increased competition and demand for water has increased, so that’s made this drought worse than it might have been.”

October is typically the driest month in the region. If no significant winter rain materializes, the situation in the Southeast could be unprecedented in 2008. Stay tuned.


California is First State to Approve HET Toilet Standard

image004Low flush toilets will become the standard in California by 2014 thanks to new legislation signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on October 11, 2007. Schwarzeneggar reversed his veto from last year and signed AB715 into law. This legislation, which has the key support of the Plumbing Manufacturers Institute, will phase in lower flush volumes for all toilet and urinal fixtures sold in California.

The new standard reduces the average flush volume of toilet fixtures from 1.6 gallons per flush (6 liters) to 1.28 gallons per flush (4 liters). Currently toilets that flush at 4 liters per flush or less are called “High Efficiency Toilets” or HETs. Urinal fixture flush volumes will be reduced to 0.5 gallons per flush.

Starting in 2010, 50% of the fixtures on the market will meet the new standard and all fixtures sold will meet the standard by 2014. New York City and Texas are considering similar regulation. California is the first state to adopt the lower flush volumes that are expected to become the new national standard. Download AB715 here...


Water Efficiency Watch Spotlight – Bill Jacoby, Director of Public Affairs, San Diego County Water Authority (Ret.)

This is the tenth appearance of the Spotlight. With this feature we hope to call your attention to people and programs that are making a positive impact on water conservation. Suggestions for future spotlight candidates are welcome. 

image005Bill Jacoby is the (recently) retired Director of Public Affairs for the San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA). He has been working in the water conservation field for 23 years and has finally left SDCWA to start is own company - Bill Jacoby Water Resources Consulting. Bill has been an important leader in the field and is a former Trustee of the AWWA Water Conservation Division. WiserWatch Spotlight editor Liz Gardener caught up with Bill Jacoby for this interview.

Water Efficiency Watch: What is the most significant change you’ve seen in the industry over 23 years?

Bill Jacoby: I’ve seen a transition from water conservation being considered both a short-term water shortage response or fairly low-keyed on-going education program, to becoming a cornerstone element in the most solid water resource plans in the nation.

WEW: What are the three things you remember with the most satisfaction in your career so far?

Jacoby: We are mostly interested in things like: Developing a comprehensive regional water conservation program for the San Diego area. Because of the variety of components we developed in cooperation with our member agencies and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the region realized significant water savings.

Participating in development of Federal and State legislation to advance water conservation and recycling. Working through the AWWA Communications, Education, and Legislation Committee, we have made great strides in setting national standards for water appliance and fixture efficiency. On the state level we’ve been able to achieve success in those same areas as well as assuring that water conservation and recycling are part of local, regional, and state water planning.

Both of these have been possible because of the strong working relationships we have forged through organizations like AWWA, the California Urban Water Conservation Council, and the Water Reuse Association. The modest role I have had the pleasure of playing in all three of these organizations has been especially gratifying.

WEW: What do others say that you have contributed to the water conservation industry?

Jacoby: Others are probably most aware of my role in developing and advocating for legislative concepts related to water use efficiency. In California, I’ve had the opportunity to play a role in bringing sometimes contentious stakeholders in the water industry and environmental community together to agree on realistic water conservation goals and approaches.

WEW: What do you wish you had done differently?

Jacoby: While most has gone well, I wish we had given more thought early on to the challenges of landscape water conservation. Because fixtures and appliances were less difficult to address, we’ve concentrated much of our attention there. Now the challenges of landscape conservation are critical as we face severe water shortages in the future.

WEW: What emerging trends/issues intrigue you right now?

Jacoby: I am very interested in how water use efficiency can play a role in two elements of climate change. First, how can efficiency efforts be increased to address potential water shortages brought on by climate change? Second, how can water use efficiency reduce further warming by reducing the demand for energy? In California 19% of our energy is used for moving and treating water. Every drop of water we conserve or recycle reduces that energy consumption.

WEW: What words of wisdom would you offer to new water conservation professionals?

Jacoby: You are entering the field at an interesting and challenging time. I see great expectations for the success of conservation programs and anticipation that significant savings will be realized. Be patient! Use adoptive management, if a program is not working the way you planned, change it. Take the long view. Remember, you community, state and the country are depending on us to meet the challenge of increasing water supply uncertainty far into the future.

Bill Jacoby can be reached via e-mail or (619) 200-3731.


Drought in Florida: State Responds to Historic Dry Spell

by Deborah Green, Water Conservation Coordinator, Water Authority of Volusia

Even though Florida's average annual rainfall (54 inches) is greater than any other state but Louisiana, in the twelve-months from May 2006 to April 2007, Florida had the second-driest period on record. In the first half of 2007, 296,052 acres of forestland burned from wildfires. Many rivers and lakes neared record low levels.

The South Florida Water Management District's Phase III water shortage order (45% reduction goal), issued in early June, was at a severity never before issued. The Southwest Florida Water Management District also enacted emergency water shortage orders (Level III), the Suwannee River Water Management District had a voluntary water shortage advisory in effect, and the remaining two water management districts, St. Johns River and Northwest, were monitoring water resources closely.

A “Florida Drought Action Plan” was prepared in April by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, in coordination with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the South Florida Water Management District, and the Florida Division of Emergency Management. While recommending continued implementation of the Conserve Florida program (the statewide water conservation program for public water supply), the report recommended revisiting the 51 recommendations in the 2002 “Florida Water Conservation Initiative.”

image008The Landscape Irrigation Group's first recommendation was to provide more residential irrigation audits, but to evaluate outcomes of audits as currently performed to seek more cost-effective models. The second recommendation was to require all local governments to adopt landscape ordinances consistent with standards developed by the 2005 “Landscape Irrigation and Florida-Friendly Design Committee.” This effort to develop standards had been required by 2004 legislation (Section 373.228, Florida Statutes).

Florida law currently allows “green lawn covenants,” that include, deed restrictions, covenants, or local ordinances filed before 2001 to require irrigated turfgrass and prohibit a property owner from installing a xeriscape or Florida-friendly landscape on her property. However under Florida's “Xeriscape Statute” (Section 373.185(3)) such covenants filed after 2001 cannot be so prohibitive. There was considerable discussion about eliminating the grandfather clause and making it clear to developers and homeowners associations that they could not require high water use landscaping, but consensus was that there were legal questions about applying this statute to older covenants, in terms of reducing value of personal property.

Another recommendation was to establish a statewide training and certification program for irrigation design, auditing, and installation professionals, in coordination with the Florida Irrigation Society and the EPA WaterSense Program. Another recommendation of the group was to revise Florida's rain sensor statute (373.62, F.S.) to assure better enforcement of operational rain sensors on all automatic irrigation systems, old or new. Currently this requirement applies to irrigation systems installed after 1991, and in fact is often poorly enforced. A revised statute would allow for substitution of soil moisture sensors or ET controllers for rain sensors.

During the 2007 Florida drought, even-odd day watering restrictions have been the tool of choice. The water management districts were urged to develop more effective enforcement and education programs to promote compliance with irrigation restrictions.

The Water Pricing subgroup recommended that utilities adopt drought rates as part of utility conservation rate structures and that workgroups develop criteria for these rates. Workgroups will also define minimum requirements for conservation rates. Phasing in of conservation rate structures and informative billing statewide within three years was suggested.

All recommendations and the full The”Drought Smart” report are available here.


Alliance for Water Efficiency Opens Its Doors in Chicago and Holds Workshop on October 18

The Alliance for Water Efficiency has set up shop in the City of Chicago, has hired staff, has its web site up and running at www.allianceforwaterefficiency.org, and is holding its first Water Efficiency Workshop on October 18 at the Chicago Cultural Center. Aimed at introducing the Alliance to the Great Lakes water resources managers and elected officials, the free workshop will cover the latest information on conservation program planning, residential and commercial fixtures and programs, outdoor water use issues and programs, water and energy, rates, savings evaluation, and climate change. A panel of Great Lakes Speakers will also be included in the workshop to talk about the need for water efficiency in the Great Lakes region. Opportunities for audience dialogue have been built into the agenda.

Featured workshop speakers include Amy Vickers, John Koeller, Allan Dietemann, Jack Kiefer, Glen Pleasance, Kelly Kopp, Warren Gorowitz, Bob Wilkinson, Kim Linton, and Alliance Executive Director Mary Ann Dickinson. Materials from the workshop will be available on request. Contact the Alliance at 866-730-a4we.


WaterSense Announces Intent to Label Efficient Showerheads

image010Showering is one of the leading residential uses of water, representing approximately 17 percent of residential indoor water use in the United States each year. To raise consumer awareness and improve the efficiency of showerheads, WaterSense is announcing its intention to develop a specification for water-efficient, high-performance showerheads.

With this announcement, WaterSense has issued a Notification of Intent to Develop Draft Performance Specifications for Showerheads and Related Devices (NOI). The NOI identifies and describes the water efficiency and performance criteria and technical issues that need to be more fully defined and resolved prior to the development of a draft WaterSense specification for showerheads. To view the NOI, please visit, www.epa.gov/watersense/pp/showerheads.htm.

To define water-efficiency and performance criteria that best reflect user satisfaction, and to resolve technical issues, WaterSense will be collaborating with industry and water-efficiency experts from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)/Canadian Standards Association (CSA) Joint Harmonization Task Group (ASME/CSA JHTG) on water-efficient showerheads. WaterSense also would like input on the water efficiency and performance criteria and technical issues identified in the NOI, as well as this specification development approach. Any comments or suggestions should be sent to watersense_showerheads@erg.com.

If you have questions regarding the showerhead NOI or the WaterSense program in general, please contact the WaterSense Helpline at (866) WTR-SENS (987-7367) or e-mail watersense@epa.gov.


New Mexico Gets $1.5 Million for Water Conservation Center

The New Mexico Xeriscape Council has received a grant of $1.5 million to establish a national water conservation center in the Albuquerque, New Mexico area. Executive Director Scott Varner announced that the center will primarily focus on outdoor urban water efficiency; particularly in the landscape. The grant may only be used for infrastructure; buildings and equipment.

Varner is seeking input from the professional water conservation community about what types of facilities would be most valuable for the future of the center. It may be some unique facility that is needed, but doesn't exist anywhere else, or it may duplicate equipment that is in use at another research facility, but would allow expansion of climate based influences. Varner and the NM Xeriscape Council are also interested in building relationships with other research facilities and staff.

Please send ideas to Scott Varner or visit their web site at - www.xeriscapenm.com. 


Bureau of Reclamation Issues Smart Irrigation Controller Report

The US Bureau of Reclamation has released the second edition of the “Weather and Soil Moisture Based Landscape Irrigation Scheduling Devices.” This report includes information on smart irrigation control products by 28 companies that were available as of June 2007. Three additional companies have been added and one companies’ products are no longer available in the U.S.

The first edition of this report was published in 2004. Previously reported product information (models, pricing, etc.) has been updated and minor revisions have been made throughout the document. It is Reclamation’s intention to continue to update the report as often as needed in an attempt to keep all information current.

The report is available for free download from the Alliance for Water Efficiency here.


NRDC Reports on Water Management Strategies to Cope with Climate Change

image012Experts predict that rising temperatures caused by climate change will lead to less alpine snowpack, earlier and larger peak streamflows, potential reductions in total streamflows, greater evaporative losses, declining ecosystem health, sea level rise, more extreme weather events—including both floods and droughts—and hotter, drier summers. According the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), we’re already seeing evidence of these trends around the West.

Water managers—including water districts and local, state, and federal agencies with water-related resource management responsibilities—play a key role in Western communities by identifying potential water-related problems and pointing the way to solutions. As stewards of one of the West’s most valuable —and scarce—resources, water managers can lead the response to ongoing climate changes and help stave off further damage.

A new NRDC report, “In Hot Water; Water Management Strategies to Weather the Effects of Global Warming” available for free download, offers a specific set of recommendations for water managers to assist in preparing for the potential impacts of a changing climate. Download the report here.


WaterSmart Innovations Conference Set for Oct. 8-10, 2008

image014In what is expected to be the largest urban water-efficiency and conservation conference of its kind in the world, the inaugural WaterSmart Innovations Conference and Exposition, hosted by the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA), is slated for Oct. 8-10, 2008, in Las Vegas.

The SNWA is hosting WaterSmart Innovations in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) WaterSense program and other leading national and international organizations. More information about the conference is available at www.WaterSmartInnovations.com.

At WaterSmart Innovations, a wide range of professional sessions, workshops and technical tours - along with an extensive exhibition featuring water-saving technologies and programs from around the world - will connect attendees with the resources they need in an atmosphere of networking, collaboration and learning, said SNWA General Manager Pat Mulroy.

"Water agencies alone cannot address all of today's water challenges," Mulroy said. "In reality, water efficiency decisions permeate dozens of professions. This will be the premier conference for diverse disciplines to come together to enhance understanding of water efficiency policies, programs and products."

With the growing momentum of green building and the international focus on water issues, WaterSmart Innovations meets the emerging need for a comprehensive water efficiency conference, said Benjamin H. Grumbles, assistant administrator of the EPA's Office of Water.


Latest Toilet Performance Testing Results Available

The latest UNAR (Unified North American Requirements) listing of High-Efficiency Toilets (HETs) that meet the UNAR specification is now available. A total of 104 HET models currently qualify to UNAR, of which 73 are also qualified for the WaterSense label.

Essentially, there is no difference in the requirements between UNAR and WaterSense; the 31 models that don't meet both specs have yet to be tested and certified to WaterSense. It is anticipated that these fixtures will be WaterSense certified in the near future. Once the lists are near identical, UNAR for HETs will exist no more because there will be no need for it and we will instead rely upon WaterSense.

For information on UNAR and the specification, visit here.


Biofuel Production in US Has Significant Implications for Water

image016The National Academy of Science has issued a new report on the implications of increased biofuel production in the U.S. on water supplies. The water implications of biofuels production are complex, difficult to monitor, and will vary greatly by region. In general, however, crops that require less irrigation, less fertilizer and pesticides, and provide better erosion protection will likely produce fewer negative water impacts. Therefore, policy decisions that encourage such measures can have a significant positive impact on the protection of water resources as the demand for biofuels expands.

The report describes factors that shape the current policy context and raises some important considerations for future policy; however, it does not evaluate specific policy options or make any recommendations about policies to be implemented.

Full Document 



European Commission Concerned About Water Scarcity

The European Commission has released a disturbing new report on water prospects for the future. If current rates of water demand remain unchanged, said Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas of Greece, consumption will grow by 16% by 2030. When this is coupled with increasing summer droughts in southern Europe, it will spell significant shortages. The report urged the 27 European Union nations to reduce their water consumption by 40% using such technologies as water-saving toilets, taps, and shower heads. For more information visit here.


SWAT Seeks Comments on Soil Moisture Sensor Protocol

The Smart Water Application Technology (SWAT) group is seeking comments on the draft protocol for testing soil moisture sensors for turf and landscape irrigation. To download the draft protocol and submit comments visit here.


Colorado Irrigation Expert Brent Mecham Joins Irrigation Association

image018Brent Mecham, well known irrigation efficiency expert formerly with the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District has joined the Irrigation Association (IA). Mecham, a former landscape and irrigation contractor and longtime IA instructor, has been named industry development director for the IA. Mecham will lead the Irrigation Association Education Foundation and guide the effort to streamline curriculum development.

Mecham, CID, CIC, CLIA and CGIA, has been the landscape water management and conservation specialist for the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District in Berthoud, Colo., since 1994. Previously Mecham owned and operated Trademark Landscapes Inc. in Loveland, Colo. He established the commercial landscape and irrigation contracting company in 1985.


Pacific Institute Issues Report Critical of San Francisco Demand Forecasts

In an effort to satisfy the future water needs of its wholesale customers, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) commissioned a series of comprehensive assessments on the area’s future water demand, conservation potential, and recycled water potential. Based on these studies, the SFPUC projects that by 2030, the total water demand of its wholesale and retail customers will increase by 14%, or 33 million gallons per day (mgd).

To meet this projected demand, the SFPUC proposes to divert an additional 25 mgd from the Tuolumne River. In response to the SFPUC’s proposal, the Tuolumne River Trust asked the Pacific Institute to independently review the SFPUC wholesale and retail customer demand projections along with the companion re-ports on water conservation and recycled water.

The Pacific Institute’s analysis concluded that the SFPUC’s studies are inadequate. They may significantly overestimate future regional demand for water. Furthermore, they underestimate the potential for cost-effective demand management and recycled water. Download the Pacific Institute reports here.


Micro-Sensors May Control Future Irrigation

Corn and potato crops may soon provide information to farmers about when they need water and how much should be delivered, thanks to a University of Colorado at Boulder invention optioned to AgriHouse Inc., a Berthoud, Colo., high-tech company.

The technology includes a tiny sensor that can be clipped to plant leaves charting their moisture content, a key measure of water deficiency and accompanying stress, said Research Associate Hans-Dieter Seelig of CU-Boulder’s BioServe Space Technology Center. Data from the leaves could be sent wirelessly over the Internet to computers linked to irrigation equipment, ensuring timely watering, cutting down on excessive water and energy use and potentially saving farmers in Colorado millions of dollars per year, he said.

To learn more visit here.


“Brown is the New Green” in Virginia Lawn Contest

“Brown is the New Green” is the theme of a water conservation program in Loudoun County, VA. The county sponsored a photo contest to find the driest, brownest grass in the county. The contest was launched when the water system was stressed during a long summer dry spell. Officials want residents to embrace brown lawns. In August, the county asked customers to go beyond the even/odd watering rule and voluntarily quit watering, or at least reduce watering to one day a week. The winner received a sprinkler, timer and moisture sensor.


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 not be considered an explicit or implicit endorsement of any product, service, research effort, analysis, etc. unless specifically so indicated.