Water Efficiency Watch December 2007 - January 2008

News from the Alliance for Water Efficiency


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

In this issue of Water Efficiency Watch

Water Efficiency Watch - December 2007

Energy Bill with Key Water Efficiency Provisions Approved

congressPresident Bush signed into law a new Federal energy policy bill that includes carefully negotiated appliance standards that will improve water efficiency as well as providing tax incentives for manufacturers. The bill was passed only after provisions that would have ended long-standing tax breaks - mostly for the oil industry, and that would have required electric utilities to generate 15 percent of their power from alternative sources were removed. The White House has threatened to veto the bill if it includes these and several other provisions passed by the House.

The water efficiency provisions included in the bill are exprected to substantially improve the efficiency of appliances in the coming years.

EPA Announces Water Efficiency Leader Awards for 2007

watersenseLogo The US EPA announced six winners of the 2007 Water Efficiency Leader (WEL) awards for their efforts in reducing, reusing and recycling water. Winners were chosen by a panel of national water experts and based on three criteria: leadership, innovation and water saved.

“We applaud these winners for saving water, energy and money for America's families and communities," said Benjamin H. Grumbles, EPA's assistant administrator for water. "They're proving innovative technology and environmental stewardship can help conserve our country's greatest liquid asset.”

The WEL Awards were created to help foster a nationwide ethic of water efficiency, which is critical to the growing U.S. economy and quality of life. Due to demographic shifts, increased demand, and aging water infrastructure, there is a national need for more efficient use of our water resources. EPA developed the WEL Awards in addition to other initiatives such as a product labeling under the WaterSense program and a the Alliance for Water Efficiency to foster water conservation. Read more about the winners of the WEL Awards here.

Allan Dietemann, Acting Resource Conservation Manager for Seattle Public Utilities and one of the founders and board members of the Alliance for Water Efficiency is the winner of the 2007 individual WEL award. Al has been a leader in water conservation for over 20 years and is being recognized by the EPA for the Seattle Regional 1% Program, his central role in promoting consumer product water efficiency such as product labeling, and inclusion of water efficiency standards. Congratulations Al!

Drought Conditions Persist in US Southeast, West Braces for "Dry Winter"

droughtmon "Exceptional" drought conditions remain severe in much of the Southeastern US including parts of Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Tennessee according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Lake Lanier which is the primary storage reservoir for Atlanta currently contains about 6 months supply according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution Water Watch drought tracking site. The Army Corps of Engineers reports that water levels at nearby Lake Allatoona are well below normal, but the lake has not yet reached a recond low during the current drought.

In response to the drought conditions numerous demand management measures (both effective and questionable) have been implemented in the region. The Georgia Aquarium has emptied some of it's displays to reduce demand. The Governor of Georgia, Sonny Purdue, has called on a higher power (and eschued the separation of church and state) and held public prayer "for rain". Effective landscape watering restrictions during the summer of 2007 might have been more effective. Purdue is also enlisting local school children through the Governor's Water Conservation Contest to come up with creative and in-expensive (less than $2,000) conservation measures.

"The only good thing about the water crisis is it's made us forget about traffic," said Sam Olens, the Chairman of the Atlanta Regional Commission. "Well, maybe not." The commission has embarked on a new planning effort to prepare for anticipated future growth.

In Tennessee, the town of Orme has been forced to shut off supply to its 145 residents. Fire trucks are being used to deliver water to residents.

In Colorado, the headwaters for much of the southwestern US, snowpack levels are already well below average to date and the forecast is for a "dry winter". "Oh, it's dry and grim," said Klaus Wolter, of the University of Colorado and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder. Wolter said this winter may disappoint those who love winter storms. "Everything seems to be shifted north this year," he said. Water providers in Colorado are starting to ready drought response efforts should they become necessary.

Alliance Offers Congressional Testimony in Support of Conservation Research

awelogomini_alt The Alliance for Water Efficiency submitted testimony in support of H.R. 3957 that would provide the EPA with funding for water efficiency research. The Alliance's priority is for a research and development program to get firmly established, rather than for any particular research project to get funded. The AWE testimony suggests four key ways in which the bill could be strengthened and then sets forth an ambitious list of research projects for consideration. The Alliance will track the progress of this important legislation. Download the full text of AWE's testimony here . 

Updated List of UNAR Qualified Toilets Available

UNAR (Uniform North American Requirements) has released an updated list of tank-type high-efficiency toilets (HETs) that meet the UNAR specification. A total of 158 models qualify to UNAR, of which 125 are models qualified to WaterSense. Essentially, there is no difference in the requirements between UNAR and WaterSense; the 33 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 qualified in the near future. Once the WaterSense and UNAR lists are near identical, UNAR for HETs will cease to exist because there will be no need for it.

Special Notes: 1) This list is only for tank-type toilets. This list is typically updated on a monthly basis. If errors are discovered, please contact John Koeller. 2) A new UNAR list will be available in early 2008 for flushometer valve toilets for non-residential applications. This list will based upon an entirely NEW Maximum Performance (MaP) testing protocol with more rigorous performance and adjustability criteria. 3) ONLY HETs that have been MaP tested can be qualified to UNAR. As such, there are other HETs available in the marketplace that have not been MaP tested, because the manufacturer has chosen not to submit the model for testing. There is no valid performance data on unlisted HETs and they should not be considered UNAR-qualified.

CNN recently covered WaterSense toilets as part of their Buying Green feature. 

Top Drop Awards Honor Best Conservation Programs in Colorado

watermeterweb The best, most effective utility conservation programs in Colorado were honored last month with "Top Drop" awards presented by the non-profit advocacy organization Western Resources Advocates (WRA). The City of Aurora (a suburban city East of Denver with a population of roughly 300,000) took top honors for their conservation program. Second place went to Denver Water and the City of Boulder took third place. Scores are based on a possible 100 points and include such criteria as per-capita water use, rate structure, unaccounted-for water and conservation goals.

The "Top Drop" awards event coincided with the release of a report by WRA comparing water use and conservation efforts among Colorado Front Range utilities. The report, "Front Range Water Meter," profiles water use in 13 communities based on information from the state, city reports and ordinances and interviews with city officials. "Conservation is typically the most cost-effective way of acquiring the most water," said report author Taryn Hutchins-Cabibi of WRC. "While some cities are doing a great deal on conservation, some cities have really just started to think about creative conservation programs. Some cities have not even set goals."

Sustainable Water Sources Conference Features Climate Change, Communication Tools

The Sustainable Water Sources Conference to be held in Reno, NV February 10-13, 2008 will focus on key water conservation and resources issues including climage change, communication efforts, and various efficiency programs. The keynote speakers include Dr. Peter Gleick from the Pacific Institute and Dr. David Yates from the National Center for Atmospheric Research - both experts on water supply and climate change.

A conference session on Tuesday, Feb. 12 will focus on the state of communications efforts in the conservation field and will include Philip Turton the editor of the UK Environment Agency's "Water Demand Management Bulletin", Elizabeth Cutright the editor of "Water Efficiency" magazine, and Peter Mayer the editor of the "Water Efficiency Watch" newsletter that you are now reading.

The event is sponsored by the American Water Works Association.

WaterSmart Innovations Conference Issues Call for Papers

image014 The WaterSmart Innovations Conference scheduled for October 8-10, 2008 in Las Vegas has issued a call for papers. The deadline for submissions in January 11, 2008. Professionals, scientists, experts, government employees, organizations, public and private institutions, policy makers, students and all others working in an industry dealing with water conservation are invited to submit an abstract for an oral presentation, panel discussion or workshop at this event. The Alliance for Water Efficiency is a proud co-sponsor of this conference.

The purpose of this conference in to broaden the knowledge of innovation in water conservation including products, policies, techniques and ideas. All topics related to innovations in water conservation will be considered.

Duke University to Invest $5 million in Conservation

As part of its continuing efforts to reduce water consumption during the region’s drought, Duke University will dedicate $5 million for water conservation projects.

The new fund will help pay for improvements to facility infrastructure and for new operational initiatives aimed at saving water, said Executive Vice President Tallman Trask III.

“Water conservation is not new at Duke,” Trask said. “Duke has been a leader in environmental stewardship, implementing water-saving projects that go back 10 years. This fund will help us move more quickly to make operational changes at Duke to address the current drought and enhance our ongoing water conservation efforts.” For more information visit the Duke News web site. 

RAND Report Evaluates CII Water Efficiency

A new report from the RAND Corporation examines the costs and benefits of water efficiency in commercial buildings. According to the authors, the report presents an analytical framework and describes a spreadsheet-based tool to help commercial building owners make reasoned judgments about various water-efficiency investment options. The framework considers the costs that are typically incurred when improving efficiency and seeks to include many tangible financial benefits. Specifically, it considers the avoided water, wastewater, and energy costs realized through increased water efficiency and allows the user to specify tiered utility rates that can have a significant impact on investment decisions. Download the RAND CII Report Here.

UN Global Environment Outlook Report Sees Water Supply Challenges

UNEP The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) says that major threats to the planet such as climate change, the rate of extinction of species, and the challenge of feeding a growing population are among the many that remain unresolved, and all of them put humanity at risk. GEO-4, the latest in UNEP's series of flagship reports, assesses the current state of the global atmosphere, land, water and biodiversity, describes the changes since 1987, and identifies priorities for action. GEO-4 is the most comprehensive UN report on the environment, prepared by about 390 experts and reviewed by more than 1 000 others across the world. Download the UN Global Environment Outlook Report here. 

Climate Change Panel Report Presents Dire Outlook for Water

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has issued their Fourth Assessment Report and Summary for Policy Makers. This Synthesis Report is based on the assessment carried out by the three Working Groups of the IPCC and provides an integrated view of climate change as the final part of the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report. The report indicates that the effects of warmer and more frequent hot days and nights on water resources relying on snowmelt are "virtually certain" in this century. Water conservation is listed as an important strategy for meeting the coming challenges.

Report Supports New Conservation Measures in Las Vegas

vegasA new report from the Pacific Institute and Western Resource Advocates supports expanded conservation efforts in Las Vegas and suggests significant additional water savings are available in the fastest growing city in the US. The report notes that up to 40% of water could be saved in some Las Vegas sectors through improvements to indoor and outdoor water efficiency. The report indicates that that through improving indoor water efficiency in particular, Las Vegas residents and businesses can cut water-related energy use and greenhouse gases. The report, “Hidden Oasis: Water Conservation and Efficiency in Las Vegas,” is available for download here.

Las Vegas conservation efforts (among the largest and best funded in the US) have focused intensively on outdoor use, particularly turf replacement. This is due in large part to the water rights situation in Las Vegas whereby indoor use is considered largely non-consumptive (i.e. treated wastewater is returned to the Colorado River) where as outdoor use is considered consumptive. From the perspective of Las Vegas, reductions in non-consumptive uses do not extend their supply as do consumptive use savings. Stay tuned.

Peter Gleick of the Pacific Institute was a recent guest on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross discussing "the looming water crisis". Listen to the interview on-line here. Gleick is one of the keynote speakers for the upcoming Sustainable Water Sources Conference.

White Paper on Residential Scale Reuse Issued

Tampa Bay Water has developed a white paper on residential scale water reuse and rainwater harvesting. Titled, "A Review of Applicable Policies and Permitting Requirements for Non-Potable Use of Cisterns", the document provides information on the cost of installing a system and a review some of the local code issues in different regions. The white paper is available for download here. 

Megalopolis - Sustainable? Brazillian Planner Tackles the Big City Question

The biggest, most crowded cities in the world such as Sao Paulo, Brazil raise huge questions about future water supply and the sustainability of human development. Brazillian achitect Dr. Carlos Leite put together a powerful presentation with many stunning photos for the recent Brisbane International Conference on Subtropical Cities Sustainability. This presentation is available for download here. 

New Mexico Establishes State Level Water Cabinet

NM New Mexico Governor and Democratic Presidential Candidate Bill Richardson has signed an executive order, creating a Water Cabinet to unify the direction of all executive agencies with responsibilities for New Mexico's water resources. The Water Cabinet will align the State Water Plan with water and wastewater infrastructure development, environmental regulations, and existing planning documents, such as the State Forest and Watershed Health Plan and the Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy for New Mexico.

"Creation of the Water Cabinet will help coordinate water policy at the highest level," Richardson said. "Water is our most precious resource and the looming spectre of global climate change will only make protecting our limited water resources all the more important. Having cabinet level policy makers working together will ensure money is more efficiently funneled to water and wastewater projects that make a difference for New Mexicans."

The Cabinet will also be responsible for promoting interagency coordination of water and wastewater infrastructure funding, expanding the management capacity of local water and wastewater systems, and developing policy recommendations for addressing drinking water emergencies.

Have No Fear the World Toilet Association is Here

toilethouse_1A new Korea-based organization aims to spread the message of sanitation and health through modern plumbing. The World Toilet Assocation (WTA) is an international organization for the promotion of sustainable toilet and water management. The WTA was formally launched at the Inaugural General Assembly November 21-25 in Seoul, Korea, and has been involved in building alliances across the globe. The main objective of the WTA is to build and improve sanitation conditions on a sustainable basis; advocating and raising awareness on sanitation issues worldwide.

To commemorate the WTA innaugural assembly, a special toilet-shaped house was built by Korean National Assembly representative Sim Jae-duck. According to Sim, the Toilet House epitomizes everything for which the World Toilet Association stands. "We want the Haewoojae to change the unpleasant concepts surrounding toilets and the misperceptions about toilets. We should learn to go beyond seeing toilets as just a place for defecation, but also as a place of culture where people can rest, meditate and be happy," said Sim, who proudly calls himself "Mr Toilet". Sim is also the chairman of the organizing committee of the WTA inauguration.

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.