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...

State Conservation and Efficiency Report Card 

California, Texas, Arizona, and Georgia Score Top Efficiency Grades 

AWE State Scorecard COVER.jpgThe new US state water efficiency law and policy report cards are in and there were just two A- grades, two B+ grades and a total of 19 states received a B- or better in the review.  This is the second report card published by AWE and the Environmental Law Institute and is updates the original work conducted in 2012.

California and Texas are the head of the 2017 water efficiency policy class, each receiving grade of A- for their collection of laws and policies.  Arizona and Georgia both received B+ grades.  Other top graded states were Nevada and Oregon.

AWE uses a survey with follow-up and peer review to develop the scorecard.  In this edition the AWE project team enhanced the survey underlying the project in order to gain a deeper understanding of state level laws that promote water conservation and efficiency. As with the 2012 report, all 50 states were contacted for the survey.

Although the 2012 and 2017 surveys are not identical, they generally cover the same topical question areas and thus the grades can be compared.  The report focuses on urban and non-agriculture efforts in rural communities.

Climate Resiliency Report Card 

For the first time, the new state scorecard report includes a climate resiliency policy score for each state as well.  The climate resilience score measures how states are preparing water supplies and management practices to respond to climate changes. Oregon and California received the highest grades followed by Washington and Rhode Island.  A total of 19 states received a score of B- or higher for their climate resiliency efforts.

Overall the report card indicate progress with much work remaining to be accomplished.  Learn more and download the full report here. 

EPA WaterSense Funded….. for Now 

 WaterSense Logo (gif)The highly successful EPA WaterSense program will have continued funding until September 30, 2018.  Congress and the White House have directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to continue the WaterSense® program, a voluntary public-private partnership that has saved American consumers more than $46 billion on their water and energy bills since 2006. 

Those instructions were included in the committee report accompanying a massive $1.3 trillion bill to fund federal government programs through fiscal 2018, which ends on September 30 of this year. The so-called omnibus spending bill was approved by the House and Senate, then quickly signed into law by President Trump.

While the spending bill does not contain specific funds for WaterSense, the committee report instructed EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to continue the WaterSense program at its 2017 funding levels. Such instructions from congressional committees have traditionally carried the force of law. 

“We are thrilled that the Congress and the White House have voiced continued support for WaterSense,” said Mary Ann Dickinson, president and CEO of the Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE), which was instrumental in efforts to create the WaterSense program in 2006 and has been a major supporter of the program ever since.

“We continue to believe that this successful public/private partnership is the most effective and efficient way to help Americans save water by choosing water efficient products and services certified to carry the WaterSense label,” Ms. Dickinson said.

Enactment of the new spending bill came as AWE sent a letter to Pruitt signed by 169 water utilities, manufacturers, distributors, consumer groups and water efficiency advocates urging the EPA administrator to continue WaterSense beyond this fiscal year.

AWE State Chapter #1: the California Water Efficiency Partnership Officially Launched 

CALWEP_Launch_MAD_2018AWE officially launched its first state chapter, the California Water Efficiency Partnership, at a gala event in Sacramento on March 7.

The event launches a new era for water efficiency in California.  Introductory remarks were presented by Steven Moore, Vice Chair of the California Water Resources Control Board. AWE CEO Mary Ann Dickinson was master of ceremonies at the event attended by over 150 people, and framed resolutions commemorating the launch of the Partnership were presented by the Steven Moore of the State Board and Bill Craven of the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee.

The creation of the California chapter will provide benefits to AWE members in general.  Learn what this will all mean at a joint webinar scheduled for May 9.  To register for the webinar, click here.

Western US Wraps Up a Dry Winter 

Snowpack in Colorado stands at 71% of normal with major winners and losers expected.  Early April is when Colorado snowpack peaks and while spring storms will help, the expected condition of the snowpack is established. 

The Upper Colorado River basin improved through March and stands at 87% of normal.  The Rio Grande River basin on the other hand stands at a near record low 40% of normal.  Water users on the Rio Grande can anticipate one of the lowest river levels ever.

In California, the northern Sierra Nevada snowpack stands at 36%, the central Sierra at 51% and the southern Sierra at 39%.  Consistent with forecast trends, due to warming temperatures more precipitation fell as rain rather than snow in California in 2018.  While water supply reservoirs are full, the low snowpack conditions mean additional inflows will be substantially lower than normal.

Financing Sustainable Water: Communicating the Costs of Water Modernization 

FSW Logo-SmChanges to a water utility can be hard on customers and utility staff. Communicating price and service changes to consumer is challenging.

  • How will customers react to seemingly inevitable rate increases?
  • How can utilities connect with an increasingly digital customer base?
  • How are utilities accounting for a customer base that increasingly speaks a language other than English at home?

Dropcountr founder and CEO Robb Barnitt explores this and more in a new Financing Sustainable Water blog post. Read the full article here.

Financing Sustainable Water is an initiative of the Alliance for Water Efficiency created to provide practical information to guide utilities through the process of developing and implementing rate structures that balance revenue management, resource efficiency and fiscal sustainability. 

Water Main Break Rates Up by 27% Over Six Years 

pipe leak 1Utah State ​University’​s (USU) Buried ​Structures ​Laboratory has ​published a ​second ​comprehensive ​study on break ​rates of the ​most commonly ​used water pipe ​materials ​titled, “​Water Main ​Break Rates In ​the USA and ​Canada: A ​Comprehensive ​Study.”

Overall, break rates have increased 27 percent in the past six years. ​Utilities ​should be ​concerned that ​break rates for ​cast iron (CI) ​and asbestos ​cement (AC) ​pipes, which ​together ​represent ​almost half of ​the installed ​water mains in ​North America, ​have increased ​46 percent and ​43 percent, ​respectively, ​since 2012. ​Together, CI ​and AC pipes ​are mostly ​responsible for ​the spike in ​pipe failures. ​CI and AC pipes ​are no longer ​manufactured ​and are now ​reaching the ​end of their ​expected lives. ​How many miles of pipe like this are in your system?

Learn more about this and other research from Utah State University here. 

Emerging Technology Symposium Set for Ontario, California 

EWTS_headerDon't miss the Emerging Water Technology Symposium, to be held in Ontario, CA May 15-16, 2018.  AWE is a partner in this event, especially designed for water utility and pluming industry professionals.  This exciting event will touch on a variety of topics, including:

  • Unintended Water Quality Consequences of Water Efficiency
  • Water-Energy Nexus
  • Educational and Behavioral Issues
  • Water Efficiency in Buildings
  • Alternate Water Sources

Peter Williams, Chief Technology Officer for Big Green at IBM, will be the opening keynote speaker for the sixth edition of this biennial conference, presented by The American Society of Plumbing Engineers, the Alliance for Water Efficiency, the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials, and Plumbing Manufacturers International, in cooperation with the World Plumbing Council.

Learn more and to download a registration form here. 

2018 USBOR Water Smart Grant Funding Available 

Bureau of reclamation logoThe Bureau of Reclamation has released new funding opportunities for fiscal year 2018, which are part of the Department of the Interior’s WaterSMART program initiative.

States, Indian tribes, irrigation districts, water districts, and other organizations with water or power delivery authority located in the Western United States or United States Territories are eligible to apply for these funding opportunities. Visit www.grants.gov and follow the instructions

Applications are due between May 10 and July 31, depending upon the funding opportunity.

Learn more about the WaterSMART Grants program here. 

AWWA Sustainable Water Management Conference Set for Tucson, AZ in 2019 

Arizona FlagThe 2019 AWWA Sustainable Water Management Conference will be held March 31-April 3, 2019 in Tucson, Arizona. Topics addressed at this conference will include solutions for balancing the benefits of conservation with the costs, managing water resources, sustainable utilities and infrastructure, urban planning and design, energy efficiency, water conservation, stormwater and reuse.

Abstracts are due by July 12, 2018.  

 IWA Efficient 2019 Set for Manila, Philippines 

iwalogoEvery two years the International Water Association holds a Water Efficiency conference that attracts water conservation professionals from all over the world.  The next conference will be held in January, 2019 and will be held in Manila, Philippines.  The call for abstracts is currently open. 

This event, which was in Bath, England 2017, provides a space to discuss water efficiency and support the network within the International Water Association to address urban demand. The conference is seeking abstracts on the following topics:

  • Policies & legislation
  • Planning & implementation
  • Best Management Practices
  • Measurement of efficiency programs
  • Water efficiency labelling
  • Non-revenue water, leakage and pressure management
  • Climate change and drought adaptation
  • Water and energy nexus
  • Water recycling and reuse
  • Efficiency of bulk supply systems
  • Water security
  • Efficient waste water treatment
  • Public involvement

The deadline to submit an abstract is April 30, 2018 but will likely be extended.

Does Urbanization Impact Weather?  New Research Conducted in India and Argentina Says…Yes 

mumbai_pwmayer_1987Two Purdue University studies show that urbanization does change storm patterns and rainfall amounts, highlighting the need for urban planning and infrastructure design that considers how the landscape will affect the weather.

In two separate papers, teams led by Dev Niyogi, Indiana state climatologist and professor in the departments of Agronomy and Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, studied storm patterns over the coastal megacity of Mumbai, India, and the mountainous city of San Miguel de Tucumán, Argentina, to determine how urban development affected storms in those regions. The Mumbai study was done in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, while the study in Argentina was done with the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

The researchers expected to see that Mumbai’s added heat and buildings significantly disrupted storms. But they expected to see little impact in San Miguel de Tucumán since the terrain around the city is rugged, which likely makes the storms turbulent before they reach the city.

In Mumbai, Niyogi said, the urban landscape disrupted rainfall, creating pockets and ribbons of rain that would intensify downpours in some parts of the city. Mumbai and other Indian cities have experienced significant flooding in recent years, possibly exacerbated by the way the cities affect storms. The researchers also found the storms organize themselves over the city in clusters. This organization showed that meteorologists should focus on small, 100-kilometer-squared areas with rain gauges or satellite images to best model future storms.

San Miguel de Tucumán’s urban development also influenced regional rainfall patterns, according to results published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. Satellite data and models showed that urbanization resulted in 20-30 percent less precipitation downwind of the city and an eastward shift in precipitation upwind. Again, Niyogi said the effect cities will have on rainfall changes needs to be taken into account before large-scale developments continue in the mountain regions where water is already a scarce resource.

Learn more about this interesting research here. 

AWE Recognizes Members During National Volunteer Week

Committee meeting at WSIAWE's strength and accomplishments come from working together. Water professionals within AWE's Board of Directors and partner organizations play a vital role by contributing time and energy to advance AWE's work.

This National Volunteer Week, the AWE staff would like to thank all the volunteers who help the Alliance for Water Efficiency further the efficient and sustainable use of water through committee participation, various projects, and other efforts. AWE member-volunteers come from water utilities, businesses, government agencies, associations, non-profits, and academic institutions – but they all share a commitment to water efficiency. 

Here’s just a glimpse of the ways AWE's network volunteered their time and worked with staff in 2017:

  • Nearly 200 volunteers participated in 22 meetings of our 3 committees
  • Staff from member organizations contributed to AWE presentations and events as speakers and moderators (and sometimes musicians!)
  • Our network provided input on key AWE initiatives, projects, and work products.
  • Members spread the word about efficiency and our work online and offline

In 2017, AWE volunteer accomplishments through committees included:

Interested in getting involved with AWE’s work? Join a committee, and reach out to AWE staff about getting involved.

AWE Member Spotlight 

Data-Driven Conservation is a Must for the G480-Vertified City of Bend, Oregon 

SpotlightIn the City of Bend, Oregon, population has grown quickly, from 30,000 in 1995 to over 90,000 today.  In response to this growth, the City’s focus on conservation has rapidly evolved.  Bend became fully metered in 2004, and current priority efforts include a large landscape program, a sprinkler inspection program, and a water loss control program.  These programs allow the utility to focus on a variety of customer groups ranging from large outdoor water users to single family units. Bend’s data-driven approach - pulling data and other information from its AMI and WaterSmart Software systems to improve outreach - has improved the effectiveness of these programs.

Although Oregon has a reputation for being wet, Bend has a predominantly dry climate, making a focus on outdoor water use an important strategy. In the large landscape program, utility staff work directly with the maintenance staff of large landscapes, such as those found in parks and schools, and make suggestions based on AMI data and field observations of maintenance.  In another initiative, the utility recruits households into their sprinkler inspection program using AMI data. The data enables the utility to target high-use homes for participation and helps staff tailor their home visits. Overall, Bend has found that the AMI technology helped save money while creating opportunity to make programs more effective.

LLP_MVHS_meeting3Another critical initiative underway in Bend is improving water loss control in accordance with state regulations—a program that, uniquely, is coordinated by water conservation staff. 

“This collaboration between conservation and operations staff creates excitement around meter accuracy and leak detection, and the value of their work, which effectively builds a sustainability ethic into our organization”, said Mike Buettner, the City’s Water Conservation Program Manager. Due to Bend’s small size, it is extremely important to be right about loss and leaks, especially if resources will be expended to make repairs.

Even with so many programs in place, Bend is proactive about finding ways to expand and improve its efforts.  It is currently using AWE’s Conservation Tracking Tool to review its conservation programs, and also worked with AWE staff to undergo the verification process for AWWA’s G480 Water Conservation Program Operation and Management Standard, ultimately landing a spot on the G480 Leaderboard

“We wanted to evolve our conservation program in alignment with the national standard to help ensure it’s on the right track,” noted Buettner. He encourages other communities to get verified for the same reasons and to help accelerate the overall success of conservation programs nationwide, as standards have done in so many other industries.

The process of getting verified allowed conservation staff to learn where there is still room to improve and has motivated them to make that progress.  Additionally, the verification was a confidence boost to staff that enabled them to demonstrate, both to city management and the community, that the utility is approaching conservation the right way. As one of the first utilities to be verified, and one that continues to develop its conservation programs, the message is clear—the City of Bend is serious about pursuing leadership in sustainable water use.

Learn more about the City of Bend Water Department here.

Check out the AWE G480 Leaderboard and learn more about getting your utility verified here 

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 – peter.mayer@waterdm.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.