Water Efficiency Watch September – October 2008

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...

Second Public Comment Period for LEED 2009 Open through September 2, 2008

USGBC member_logo_blk.gifThe US Green Building Council (USGBC) has announced a second comment period for LEED 2009, and has issued a second draft of LEED 2009 which includes some changes based on comments received in June. To see the second draft and to comment on it, visit the USGBC website.

The second draft of LEED 2009 contains both good and bad news.  The bad news is that many of the recommendations from AWE and other water conservation professionals concerning new water credits and a higher profile for water in LEED were not incorporated into this revised version of LEED 2009.  This is a disappointment.  The good news is that the second draft requires a mandatory 20 percent water use reduction from the calculated baseline. This revision is a major improvement, and was a specific recommendation from the USGBC Water Efficiency Technical Advisory Group (WETAG). The Alliance for Water Efficiency has three voices on the WETAG, and played an important role in pushing this through.  
USGBC needs to hear that the 20 percent water use reduction is an important and worthwhile change.  Please consider submitting comments in support of this mandatory component. Those who find the USGBC response on water conservation to be inadequate can re-submit comments, providing additional justification for and recommended changes. Those who submitted comments and recommendations relating to new credits, additional products, technologies and practices to be considered in LEED, or other things outside of the existing LEED products, have no need to re-submit as these issues will be considered in the next revision round.

The Alliance for Water Efficiency will continue to follow and report on developments with LEED 2009.

California Is First State to Approve Water and Energy Efficiency Green Building Standards

In July, California became the first state in the US to approve green building standards to cut water and energy usage, a move officials hope will help the state meet its ambitious goals to curb greenhouse gas emissions. 

The plan, adopted by the California Building Standards Commission, requires that all new construction - from commercial buildings to homes, schools and hospitals - reduce energy usage by 15 percent, water use by 20 percent and water for landscaping by 50 percent. A voluntary form of the code is scheduled to kick in on July 1, 2009.

"There is no statewide standard in the nation such as our green building standard," said commission chairwoman Rosario Marin. "We anticipate others to follow us."

The rules do not specify how to make the demand reductions, but ideas range from installing energy-efficient appliances and increasing natural lighting to using low-flow toilets and planting drought-resistant vegetation. The code will be voluntary while the commission works on a mandatory regulation, which the panel hopes to have in place by end of 2010 or beginning of 2011, Marin said.

The full text of the approved standard can be obtained here.

WaterSense Team Wins EPA National Honor Award

The US Environmental Protection Agency has awarded the Gold Medal for Exceptional Service to the WaterSense Team.   The WaterSense team was honored for their exceptional service, exemplary commitment, and extraordinary contributions to preserving water supplies for future generations.

Award winners (and their EPA office) included the following individuals: Geoffrey Cooper, OGC; Joel Corona, OW; John Flowers, OW; Gordon Gillerman, USNIST; Monique Henderson, OARM; Virginia D. Lee, OW; Mary McKiel, OPPTS; Matthew Richardson, OW; Karen Schneider, OAR; Michael Scott, AO; Cindy Simbanin, OW; Stephan Sylvan, AO; Stephanie Tanner-Weber, OW; Scott Tharp, OARM; Stephanie Thornton, OW.

The Alliance for Water Efficiency wishes to congratulate all of these award winners for their accomplishments.

Spotlight logo Water Efficiency Watch Spotlight – Jill Hoyenga, Water Management Services Supervisor, Eugene Water and Electric Board, Oregon

This is the 12th 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.  Many thanks to AWE Board Member Liz Gardener of Denver Water for keeping  this a continuing feature of Water Efficiency Watch.  Suggestions for future spotlight candidates are welcome. 

Water Efficiency Watch:  How long have you been in the water conservation field?

Jill Hoyenga:  About 13 years.

WEW: What is the most significant change you’ve seen in the industry in that time?

Jilll Hoyenga Hoyenga:  I can think of a couple of significant changes in the industry since I started. Certainly the innovations in conservation technologies have been and will continue to be significant. Efficient water use is primarily about getting the same quantity and quality of “work” using less water because people don’t use water for water’s sake. Water use is a means to an end.

Advances in customer installed outdoor and indoor water using technologies are now approaching the value and reliability of building new infrastructure. Third-party testing is important in building water-purveyor trust that these technologies will indeed offset the need for new infrastructure.  

Automated Meter Reading is a technology that is creating many opportunities for demand management. Which leads to another very significant change I have seen in the industry. “Water conservation” has become a narrow and obsolete term for the work we do. At my utility we have managed seasonal peak water use very well, but hourly peak water use has increased to such a degree that it now drives our capital plan. This means that our message and tools for customers are aimed at helping them manage when they use water as well as how much.

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

Hoyenga: There are quite a few…

Among the most satisfying conservation projects within my utility was our residential audit program called the Home Water Survey Program. As many folks know, an audit program may be one of the most expensive programs to implement. Our cost/benefit analysis for managing seasonal peak was generous, but limited. Through targeted marketing and development of a proprietary database process we were able to train temporary summer staff, educate customers about behavior changes, gather data, and evaluate the program annually well within the cost/benefit budget. For the 10 years of the program we reduced peak water use by 24% on average. For our utility this resulted in a measurable system-wide Maximum Day Demand and Average Day Demand reduction and deferred treatment plant expansion for several years. Our annual evaluation compared water use of audit participants with the entire residential sector. Through our annual evaluation process we discovered that our new watering recommendation media campaign, called the Green Grass Gauge, apparently reduced water use for the entire residential sector to such a degree that the Home Water Survey program was no longer cost effective. After three years of confirming this through evaluation we discontinued the audit program this year.

SWAT LogoAmong the most satisfying conservation programs in the wider conservation community is my work with the Irrigation Association initiative now called Smart Water Application Technology (SWAT). This diverse partnership of water purveyors, irrigation manufacturers, distributors and contractors/consultants has resulted in the first third-party conservation testing protocol for irrigation technology. This means that for the first time irrigation water saving claims can be tested. More importantly, the protocol creates a peer reviewed and affirmed target for irrigation manufacturers to build toward. As the first chair of what is now called the SWAT Promotions Working Group I was privileged to lead a talented, innovative and incredibly motivated group of stakeholders in the entrepreneurial stage of this initiative. It is very satisfying to have worked with such an excellent team of leaders and to build governance structure to support SWAT efforts with a sustainable succession of leadership into the future. I continue to be very involved as SWAT transitions into supporting EPA WaterSense labeling of irrigation products.

Within my utility I was primary author for a water awareness and conservation curriculum that has been adopted by a local school district as required science curriculum since 1999. The curriculum has also been used in other water utility service areas with some adaptation. I also developed the administration portion of WaterWise, a partnership effort with the Oregon Landscape Contractors Association. Wider conservation community: While in leadership with the Pacific Northwest Section I instituted a practice of scheduling training offerings at every meeting with proceedings available for active committee members. This practice remains and is instrumental in fostering the value of committee participation for our very busy membership.

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

Hoyenga:  Wow! I am not sure what to say.

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

Hoyenga: The emerging trend of most interest to me right now is certification and formalized training for water conservation professionals. One of the past strengths of the water conservation community is that we come from very diverse backgrounds from folks who began their water careers in the irrigation ditch (like myself) to people with public relations and marketing degrees to water engineers. This rich mix of talents and knowledge has resulted in a dynamic and creative community that is very skilled at balancing theory and practice of demand management. However, due to looming retirements there is now a need to capture the pool of conservation knowledge in order to build a strong foundation for the next generation of professionals. These certification and training efforts indicate a maturation of the water conservation field as the need for professionals increases around the world.

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

Hoyenga: Here is my list -

  • Learn something new every day.
  • Ask water use/demand trend questions of people in every department of your utility, people you sit next to at conferences, every customer you have contact with.
  • Read voraciously.
  • Keep an annotated business card file, you never know when you will have an off the wall question that a person that you met 7 years ago will know the answer to.
  • Get involved in the wider conservation community and then make sure your management knows how you have improved your local programs as a result of your involvement. This will garner management support for future travel and volunteer opportunities.
  • Use a market research approach in your program development by discretely targeting customers and their service providers.
  • Evaluate water use changes and trends at your utility, evaluate customer perceptions and satisfaction, evaluate the cost of your demand management programs against the ever changing capital plan to keep your programs grounded in reality.

Jill Hoyenga may be contacted via e-mail here.

U. of Florida Study Finds Substantial Water Savings from Soil Moisture Sensor-Based Irrigation Controllers

A new study from Dr. Michael Dukes and Dr. Bernard Cardenas-Lailhacar at the University of Florida finds significant water savings may be achieved through the use of soil moisture sensor-based irrigation contollers.  The researchers found that most soil moisture sensor systems recorded significant irrigation water savings compared to time-based irrigation schedules typically used by homeowners. During normal/wet weather in Florida, savings ranged from 69% to 92% for three of four SMS brands tested. During dry weather conditions, savings ranged from 28% to 83%. All these water savings were achieved without decreasing turfgrass quality below acceptable levels. The researchers concluded that soil moisture sensors represent a promising technology for water conservation.  Download the full report here:

Dukes, M. et al (2008) Evaluation of Soil Moisture-based on-demand Irrigation Controllers 

Jordanian Prince, EPA Asst. Administrator to Address WaterSmart Innovations Conference

His Royal Highness Prince Feisal Ibn Al-Hussein of Jordan, who as a chairman of the Royal Water Committee is active in water resource management and alternative water resources, will be the keynote opening session speaker at the inaugural WaterSmart Innovations Conference and Exposition, Oct. 8-10, 2008, in Las Vegas.  In addition, Ben Grumbles, EPA Assistant Administrator for Water, will present the first ever WaterSense Partner of the Year awards during a luncheon keynote address on Thursday, Oct. 9 from noon - 1:30 p.m.

Petra 1The WaterSmart Innovations conference hopes to broaden the knowledge of innovations in urban water efficiency and water conservation including products, programs and outreach. It is anticipated to be the largest and most comprehensive conference of its kind. More information is available at www.WaterSmartInnovations.com.

Slated to speak at the conference’s opening session October 8, HRH Prince Feisal chairs the water committee that his brother, King Abdullah II, created earlier this year to upgrade Jordan’s water strategy and develop policies and programs in light of the kingdom’s scarce water resources.

A recent World Bank report noted that Jordan is one of the world’s 10 most water-deprived nations. According to the United States Agency for International Development, the average Jordanian has access to fewer than 150 cubic meters of water, or less than 40,000 gallons annually. In contrast, the average U.S. citizen has more than 9,000 cubic meters, or about 2.4 million gallons, of fresh water available per year. Exacerbating Jordan’s water challenges is its growing population, expected to double by 2029.

Annual Meeting and Committee Meetings of the Alliance for Water Efficiency Set For October 7 in Las Vegas

On October 7, one day before the start of the Water Smart Innovations Conference in Las Vegas, the Alliance for Water Efficiency will hold its annual meeting. The meeting is open to all.  AWE will also hold separate meetings for three newly-formed advisory committees.  All meetings will be held at the South Point Hotel and Casino, which is the primary conference hotel.  Please plan on arriving in Las Vegas a day early to participate in these meetings. 

Alliance for Water Efficiency Annual Meeting

2:30 to 5:00, Reception to follow immediately after

WaterSense and Water Efficient Products Committee

11:00 to 12:30

Education and Outreach Committee

11:00 to 12:30

Water Efficiency Research Committee

11:00 to 12:30

Anyone interested in serving on an AWE committee should contact Mary Ann Dickinson. Membership in the Alliance for Water Efficiency is required to participate.

A Sting From the Sacramento Bee

A Sacramento family faces more than $700 in fines for letting their lawn go dry in a declared drought.  The Sacramento Bee takes the utility and lawmakers to task for a “disconnect” in priorities.  Read the full article here. This article highlights the need for water conservation programs to work in harmony with local planning and zoning codes to ensure that customers are not caught in a gray area of conflicting rules and regulations.  This is an issue that extends far beyond Sacramento and California and is something to which the Alliance for Water Efficiency hopes to bring more attention.

Global Freshwater Crisis Looming But Avoidable:  Scientific American

As demand for freshwater increases, Earth’s supplies are less predictable. Existing technologies could help avert a global water crisis, but they must be implemented soon, reports Peter Rogers in a recent Scientific American cover story.

The article paints a stark picture of the freshwater supply situation across the globe and suggests a number of solutions for tackling the problem including increased water conservation.  Portions of the article are available for free download here.

Nation Faces Era of Water Scarcity According to Circle of Blue WaterNews

The Unites States is facing an unprecedented era of water scarcity in which efficiency will play an increasingly important role according to Circle of Blue WaterNews, a nonprofit affiliate project of the Pacific Institute.  Scientists anticipate water scarcity in unexpected regions that have previously had ample supply according to the article.  Within 13 years, Lake Mead and Lake Powell could become “dead pool” mud puddles, say scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.  Read the full text of the article here.

San Diego Region Reduces Demand In 2008 Primarily Through Mandatory Agricultural Restrictions

A recent report on demand reductions indicates agricultural users have responded quicker than urban consumers in the San Diego area over the first 6 months of 2008.   According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, North San Diego County farmers have decreased their demand by nearly 13 percent in 2008 due to mandatory restrictions.  At the same time, urban users in the City of San Diego have only reduced demand by 1.3 percent.

“Clearly, we haven't achieved the level of conservation that we need,” said Alex Ruiz, a top official with the city of San Diego Water Department. He said conservation started off solid in 2008 but dwindled as the weather warmed.

The Metropolitan Water District (MWD) of Southern California has warned their constituent retail providers that water allocations in 2009 could be severely curtailed because of drought.  Depending upon the severity of the situation, mandatory urban water restrictions may be required in 2009.

Read more about the success of the 2008 San Diego demand reduction efforts here.

Georgia Success Story:  WIKA Instruments Cuts Demand

Lawrenceville, GA – Metro Atlanta-based WIKA Instrument Corporation (WIKA) has announced that it successfully reduced water consumption at its Lawrenceville pressure and temperature gauge manufacturing facility by almost 70 percent from its April/May 2007 peak usage of 60,300 gallons per workday to its June 2008 usage of only 18,500 gallons per workday.

A three-person project team of managers identified and implemented water reduction methods that would conserve water and save the company money. The return on investment on implementations to date will be realized in less than one year’s time. The amount of water saved is about 10.5 million gallons annually. 

The water efficiency measures implemented included installation of industrial chillers that cool the recirculating water for the facility’s 15 resistance and conductive soldering stations. WIKA installed a chiller on another component in its factory that cools water from a washing operation.  In addition, the company installed waterless urinals in its men’s restrooms.

Santa Clara Valley Plans for Mandatory Water Conservation

The Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD), a wholesale water provider in San Jose California, will work with water retailers to develop a mandatory conservation program that can be implemented at a short notice if needed.

In 2007, a voluntary 10 percent reduction program by the SCVWD only realized 3 to 4 percent savings.  Upon hearing this information and reviewing water supply operations and contingency strategies, the board of directors of the SCVWD requested that a mandatory conservation Santa Clara Countyprogram be developed.

"For the last two years, water demand in our county has surpassed the annual water supply and we have been utilizing our reserves to make up for the difference," said Valley Water Board Chair, Rosemary Kamei.

"In Santa Clara County we have been fortunate that we have developed a diverse portfolio of water supply resources, including our groundwater reserves,” Kamei said. “These reserves have provided us with water supply options that have helped us avoid mandatory conservation despite two successive dry years.  However, there is a limit to those reserves and unless we conserve more, we will need to resort to mandatory conservation if there is another dry year."

The SCVWD board decided customers should know in advance what a mandatory conservation program would look like and what can be done to avoid implementation of such a program. The board also hopes to ensure that customers who have implemented conservation measures do not get penalized through any tiered rate structures implemented. 

NYC to Install Wireless Water Meters to Help Detect Leaks

New York City says a $68 million effort to modernize its water meters will help save money and water by flagging leaks fast.

The Department of Environmental Protection announced plans in July to install a wireless, automatic meter-reading system citywide.  The network will measure customers' water use four times a day. Readings are now taken four times a year, meaning leaks sometimes linger undetected.

More frequent meter readings can assist the utility in alerting customers to prolonged and unanticipated water usage that could be the result of leaks. The meters will be put in place over the next three years

California Water Agency Director Takes on Conservation “Conundrum”

Cooperation puzzle clipR.J. Kelly, a director of the Castaic Lake Water Agency in California, tackles one of the vexing issues in water efficiency in a recent column:  “Why conserve?” 

“We believe the answer to that question is simple,” Kelly writes. “We should conserve because it’s good stewardship. It’s the responsible way to manage a vital resource, and it’s in the best interests of our community, our state and the environment.

“Yet, proving the adage that no good deed goes unpunished, ‘rumblings of discontent’ have been voiced about water conservation efforts, based on the argument that some people — including, ironically, so-called environmentalists — don’t feel they should have to conserve water if some of that water may be used by future residents who will occupy new homes.”

Read Kelly’s thoughtful remarks on the “conservation conundrum” here.

FLOW: For the Love of Water – Film Opens in September 2008

Flow the movie posterIrena Salina's award-winning documentary investigates what experts label the most important political and environmental issue of the 21st Century. The World Water Crisis opens in theaters in September 2008.

In the film, Salina builds a case against the growing privatization of the world's dwindling fresh water supply with an unflinching focus on politics, pollution, human rights, and the emergence of a domineering world water cartel.

Interviews with scientists and activists reveal the rapidly building crisis, at both the global and human scale, and the film introduces many of the governmental and corporate interests behind the water grab, while asking the fundamental question, "Can anyone really own water?"

The film also provides a look at the people and institutions providing practical solutions to the water crisis and those developing new technologies, which are fast becoming blueprints for a successful global and economic turnaround.  To learn more about this provocative and controversial film visit: http://www.flowthefilm.com/

How Green is Your AstroTurf?

The Wall Street Journal takes up the issue of synthetic grass and its place in water efficiency and green building programs in a recent article.  It’s another “he said – she said” situation with manufacturers arguing the benefits of their faux-green product while others doubt the veracity of their claims.  Read the full article here.

Product News

The Alliance for Water Efficiency is pleased to provide news of emerging products in the marketplace.  Please note that the listing of any product or link herein is informational only and does not guarantee that the listed product has been tested or certified in any way.  Products that have received approved third party verification of savings and performance will be posted as we learn about them on a soon-to-be-developed Alliance products web page.

Graywater Manufacturer Teams with Commercial Toilet Giant

WaterSaver Technologies, a company that has developed a residential scale graywater device that reuses faucet water to flush toilets, has announced a partnership with the Sloan Valve Company. The partnership will leverage WaterSaver’s water-saving products, and Sloan’s market penetration.  WaterSaver Technologies and Sloan hope to provide the industry with water re-usability to help maximize water-efficiency.

“Sloan’s position in the industry will bring much needed attention to this low maintenance, low cost, and effective water-saving solution,” said Mark Sanders, Chairman of WaterSaver Technologies

For more information visit the WaterSaver Technologies website.

Water Web Sites of Note

http://aguanomics.com/ - an interesting water and economics blog by economist David Zetland.

http://www.iapmo.org/Pages/GreenNewsletter.aspx - archives of the IAPMO Green Newsletter that includes numerous articles on water, plumbing, and efficiency codes and standards.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/aug/20/water.food1 - article on water use, virtual water, and the real scale of UK's water consumption.  Each Briton uses 4,645 liters (1,255 gallons) a day when hidden factors are included.

http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/08/20/11085/ - opinion piece on food, virtual water, and the looming freshwater supply shortage.

www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2008/07/07/putting_a_cap_on_the_bottled_water_industry/ - opinion piece on bottled water and practices in Massachusetts

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.