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.  Like and follow AWE on Facebook and Twitter for a chance to win an iPod Touch!

In this issue of Water Efficiency Watch...

Home Water Works Consumer Water Efficiency Web Site Launched

HWW Site Logo The Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE) proudly launched on January 16 a new water efficiency web site called Home Water Works ( www.home-water-works.org ), featuring the advanced and accurate Water Calculator.  Home Water Works was created to give people the best and most relevant information about conserving water at home.  This stunning new web site offers water saving tips and information about every major water using fixture and appliance found in homes today.

A central feature of Home Water Works is the Water Calculator – a powerful and accurate tool for estimating where water is used in your home.  Answer a few simple questions and the Water Calculator quickly estimates how much water is used for toilets, showers, clothes washers, faucets, dishwashers, and even leaks.  The Water Calculator tells you where and how to increase water efficiency in your home by identifying the end uses where water can be saved and the end uses where a high level of efficiency has already been achieved.

water-calculator-HWW Created through a unique partnership with The Field Museum in Chicago, the Water Calculator’s crisp cinematic style graphics move the user through the house answering simple questions about appliances and fixtures.  Indoor use estimates are calculated using carefully researched per capita estimates from national water use studies. Using national climate data sets, the Water Calculator estimates outdoor use based on the size and type of the landscape and the irrigation methods employed.  The Water Calculator even estimates the carbon footprint associated with water heating in the home.

HWW-custom-calculator-logoAWE members can get a free customized Home Water Works logo to use as a link from your website to Home Water Works.  To order your custom logo click here:  http://www.allianceforwaterefficiency.org/hww-terms.aspx 

The Home Water Works web site provides the latest and most relevant information about residential water use and efficiency for the entire house.  From fixing a leaking toilet to improving the quality of the soil in the yard, Home Water Works provides essential and up-to-date information on how to make your home as water efficient as possible.  Visit Home Water Works today at: www.home-water-works.org .

Drought Update


  • Austin, TX – Texas lawmakers are concerned that continued drought could lead to brownouts and keep major firms from expanding statewide because of fears about an unreliable power grid.  Learn more here.
  • Rocky Mountains, CO – Snowpack in Colorado is lagging well below average levels so far this winter.  There is still time for a recovery, but if more snow doesn’t fall water managers will be dusting off drought response plans across the region.  Learn more here.
  • Flower Mound, TX - In response to the severe Texas drought the town of Flower Mound outside of Dallas/Fort Worth, has completely barred the watering of lawns, gardens, and landscaping between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.   Though citizens may water with a hand-held hose, faucet-filled bucket, or drip irrigation at any time, Flower Mound also asks that residents and business only water every other day, depending on the final number of their street address.
  • Spicewood Beach, TX -  Check out this video of General Manager Becky Motal addressing pressing questions surrounding LCRA's sale of water from the drought stricken Spicewood Beach system to private water providers.
  • Houston, TX -  The Jan. 31 U.S. Drought Monitor map classifies the Dallas-Fort Worth area as officially out of drought for the first time since July, making it Texas' first major metropolitan area to emerge from the most severe one-year drought in state history. It will likely trigger a lifting of water restrictions for the more than 3 million people who live in the recovering area, which extends north and northeast to Texas' border with Oklahoma and Arkansas.  But meteorologists and climatologists warn the situation remains precarious. Nearly 60 percent of Texas remains in severe or exceptional stages of drought and a drier-than-normal spring or hotter-than-usual summer could quickly tip wetter areas back into drought.
  • Cheyenne, WY -  After record mountain snowmelt caused disastrous flooding across Wyoming last year, early predictions by federal hydrologists foresee below average runoff this year because of a dearth of snowfall so far this winter.  Learn more here.
  • National Situation –  The US Drought Monitor from the University of Nebraska is the most up-to-date source of information on drought conditions in the US.

Preliminary DOE Efficiency Analysis of Ice Makers Misses the Water in the Ice

By Tom Pape

ice_machine_4The US Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a preliminary analysis report on automatic commercial ice makers.  DOE conducted this research as part of the current rulemaking to set energy conservation standards for automatic commercial ice makers.  DOE is required by law to establish energy conservation standards that achieve the maximum improvement in energy efficiency that is technologically feasible and economically justified.

This most glaring omission from this analysis is the actual water consumption of the ice makers – i.e. the water it takes to produce the ice. Mysteriously, DOE chose to only include the costs of single pass cooling water in the analysis, while there are concerted efforts by the water community to ban single-pass water cooling.  Water cooled ice makers are becoming increasingly rare, yet the water wasted from inefficient batch tray designs goes unabated. 

For air cooled ice-makers, it takes only 12 gallons of water to produce 100 pounds of ice. Poor operational settings and designs means the majority of equipment in use today uses between 18 and 34 gallons to produce 100 pounds of ice. The waste of up to 2/3 of the water is currently not included in the DOE life cycle cost analysis, nor is minimum water efficiency standards planned to be included in the future Federal Standard.

DOE expects to define a new family of ice equipment consisting of all machines operating in a batch mode (i.e., cube and tube ice makers that have alternating freezing and harvesting cycles).  DOE is also considering a category for and continuous process ice makers with harvest capacities from 50 to 4,000 lb/24 hours.  Continuous process ice makers differ from batch process ice makers in that they freeze and harvest ice at the same time and typically produce flake and nugget ice.  Flake and pellet ice machines, though increasingly popular, are currently not included in Energy Star labeling.

The water community has an opportunity to make recommendations before the final ruling.  Click here for more information.

WaterSense News

WaterSense Logo (gif)Washington Townhome Complex First Development to Receive WaterSense Label

zHome – a 10-unit townhome development in Issaquah, WA that hopes to set an example for the future of housing – is also the first complex in the US in which every home has earned the WaterSense label for new homes.

A home that is certified to earn the WaterSense label is designed to use least 20 percent less water than a standard, newly-constructed home with equal or better performance. Learn more here.

Get Ready for Fix a Leak Week – March 12-18

fix-a-leak-week-2012It's time to remind homeowners to dig out their wrenches and pipe tape – Fix a Leak Week 2012 is coming soon.  For the fourth consecutive year, WaterSense® and their partners will raise awareness about the importance of eliminating household leaks during Fix a Leak Week, March 12 through 18, 2012.
To help make the weeklong event truly national in scale, EPA is encouraging WaterSense partners across the country to host community events that highlight the water-saving benefits of fixing household leaks. Step-by-step guides, inspirational ideas, case studies, and updated tools and resources are available for WaterSense partners.  Learn more here.

Intelligent Use of Water Awards Offer Funding for Creative and Effective Conservation

The 2012 Intelligent Use of Water Awards grant program is underway and project submissions are being sought. 

The Intelligent Use of Water Awards is an interactive grant program that awards funds to water conservation and environmental sustainability projects that promote green spaces. A global initiative, any Internet user can submit a project via the Intelligent Use of Water Awards website and promote it within his or her own community. Visitors can anonymously vote for all projects (one vote a day per project, per individual user), and the projects with the most votes will receive funding from Rain Bird according to their funding category.

Rain Bird will award four $1,500 projects, three $5,000 projects, and three $10,000 projects.

The Intelligent Use of Water Awards program began as a way to honor individuals and organizations for completed projects.  However, the program was revamped in 2010 to help fund future water conservation projects.

AWE Joins forces with EcoHome from the American Institute of Architects for Vision 2020

AWE will contribute to EcoHome magazine’s Vision 2020 editorial initiative.  Throughout the year EcoHome editors will convene the most-trusted thought leaders in sustainability and environmental building, and share their research, projects, and projections with our green building colleagues and constituencies — in print and online.

AWE’s President and CEO Mary Ann Dickinson and AWE Board Chair Carole Baker have been chosen to head up the water efficiency focus area.

 EcoHome hopes to develop 10 focus areas of discussion including:

  • Regenerative Design
  • Sustainable Communities
  • Energy and Carbon
  • Materials and Resources
  • Water Efficiency
  • Indoor Environmental Quality
  • Products and Performance
  • Building Systems Research
  • Green Building Codes, Standards, and Rating Systems
  • Market Penetration

Learn more about Vision 2020 here.

Gray Area: Who Owns the Graywater In Florida?

FloridaFlorida legislators are discussing the biggest overhaul of state water laws in forty years. Among the hottest topics is: Who has the right to “gray” or reclaimed water?

The state is the country’s biggest user of graywater. While reclaimed water accounts for less than one percent of all water use nationally, in Florida that number approaches 10 percent – some 660 million gallons per day.  Current law allows Florida to regulate all water use.

The Florida legislature considered a bill that would have placed “reclaimed water” under the ownership of local governments and utility companies, a practice that could possibly make recycled water available to the highest bidder.

Facing pressure from environmentalists and business groups, the language in the bill was changed to ensure recycled water would still be owned by water management districts. In return, the water management districts would be unable to force cities and utilities to give away recycled water that cost money to treat.

Both business and environmental groups praised the compromise language, which affirmed that recycled water remains “waters of the state.” 

Pinellas County, Florida Mandates Certification for Landscape Workers

New rules in Pinellas County, Florida require landscape field workers and those who apply fertilizers commercially to be certified. Effective immediately, all such workers must register with and be certified by the county. They must display a certification decal on their vehicle, and carry a county-issued card.

On the landscape side, all members of a company’s field staff – even seasonal employees who   mow lawns – must obtain a county certification within ninety days of beginning their job.

To be certified, the individual needs to complete the Pinellas County Landscape Best Management Practices course (three hours, offered in both English and Spanish) and pass an assessment. A small fee is required for the county decal and card.  Learn more here.

Landscape Water Use Standard Proposed

The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) has announced a project to develop a standard for determining available water for landscapes and estimating landscape water use.  Sounds like landscape water budgets to us. Members of the public are invited to participate.   Learn more here. 

Northward Warming Trends Reflected in New USDA Climate Zone Map

A new government map gives gardeners in many parts of the nation a chance to turn over a new leaf for the first time in decades.

Long-awaited changes unveiled in January in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's climate zone guide show northward warming trends, while also targeting a few colder areas in the mountains. Growers in climates where warmer is the new norm can grow species of plants that would have perished in a colder zone.  Learn more here.

CII Water Efficiency Self-Improvement Guide Available

The South Florida Water Management District has created a great new guidebook to help business owners and facility managers improve water efficiency at their sites without spending a lot of money.  Download your free copy here.

Transforming Water: Water Efficiency as Stimulus and Long-Term Investment

transforming-report-coverThe AWE paper Transforming Water: Water Efficiency as Stimulus and Long-Term Investment was recently given a facelift. The document was formatted to improve the visual presentation. Many AWE members have distributed this document to policy makers and AWE wanted the graphics to be on par with the great information.  Download your free copy here.

Alternative Approaches to Water Infrastructure Problem Proposed in Johnson Foundation Report

A new report concludes that rebuilding and operating US water systems as they are presently built would be enormously inefficient. 

“Another major problem is myopic, inflexible water-pricing systems that fail to distinguish between various water uses and generally undervalue water,” states the press release for a Financing Sustainable Water Infrastructure report released in January 2012 by The Johnson Foundation, in collaboration with American Rivers and Ceres.  Apparently none of these groups had ever heard of water budget-based rate structures.

The report concludes that in order to achieve more sustainable, resilient and cost-effective freshwater systems, bold new approaches for financing and operating public water systems will be required, including:

  • Local water solutions that can improve efficiencies, including green infrastructure, closed-loop systems and water recycling
  • Flexible water pricing and revenue structures that distinguish between drinking water and various other types of water, such as lawn water and toilet water (sounds like water budgets again)
  • System-wide, full-cost accounting of water services and financing mechanisms
  • Less reliance on state and federal funding and more reliance on private, market-based financing mechanisms that can support local, customer-supported solutions.

Read the full and dramatic press release for this report here. 

UK Demand Management Bulletin Returns After Hiatus

The UK Demand Management Bulletin newsletter, a crucial source of information on water efficiency across the Atlantic, returned to quarterly publication in January.  Philip Turton has been retained as editor.

The latest issue features articles on drought, a recent conservation white paper, recent work of the UK Environment Agency, and much more.  Download the latest issue here.  AWE also maintains an on-line archive of this publication here.

Demand Management Bulletin was an important inspiration for the creation of Water Efficiency Watch.  Welcome back old friend, we’re glad you’re still alive and kicking.

Benefits of Direct Potable Reuse Presented in New Report

“Direct Potable Reuse: Benefits for Public Water Supplies, Agriculture, the Environment, and Energy Conservation,” is a 20-page NWRI White Paper released in January that focuses on the role that direct potable reuse (DPR) could have in the management of water resources in the future. 

DPR involves the introduction of purified municipal wastewater into a water treatment plant intake or directly into the water distribution system.  Water researchers and practitioners are interested in DPR because it can provide a reliable and sustainable local water supply. Download the report here.

A recent New York Times article also focused on the potential for wastewater reuse.

ICC’s Peters Inducted into World Toilet Organization Hall of Fame

jay-peters-ICCJay Peters, Plumbing, Mechanical and Fuel Gas (PMG) Group Executive Director for the International Code Council was one of three 2011 honorees inducted to the World Toilet Organization (WTO) Hall of Fame. The recipients are chosen based on their extensive efforts and contributions to solve the global sanitation crisis that claims the lives of thousands of people every day, most of whom are children.

Peters was selected particularly in recognition of his and the ICC’s consistent contributions to the global sanitation movement, especially in pioneering and initiating the official launch of the United Nations International Year of Sanitation in 2008.

Italian Polo Champs Pumped About Water Conservation

Water polo teamThe world champion Italian national water polo team has become the latest advocate recruited by the United Nations in its efforts to raise international awareness about water conservation. The squad, also known as the azzurri (blues), have become promoters of ‘The Future We Want: Drop by Drop' - an information campaign spearheaded by the UN Regional Information Centre for Western Europe (UNRIC) which invites Europeans to create a slogan inspiring others to use water wisely.

News Briefs and Web Links

  • 2012 Declared “Year of Water” – Chinese water dragons take note - 2012 has been declared as the “Year of Water” in states like Colorado and cities like Monona, Wisconsin.  Specific programs to educate and inform about local water resource issues have been planned.  What are you doing to celebrate the year of water?
  • 2012 Dream Home is a “Green” Home - A recent study by Yahoo! Real Estate indicates that homeowners are now less interested in McMansions and are instead interested in a "green, energy-efficient home built with sustainable materials that yield a lower carbon footprint."  Learn more here.
  • Zimmerman Elected Director of Wisconsin Green Building Alliance – Rob Zimmerman, Manager of Engineering, Water Conservation, and Sustainability at Kohler Co. and Chair of AWE’s WaterSense and Water Efficient Products Committee has been elected a director of the Wisconsin Green Building Alliance.  Congratulations Rob!
  • New Water and Efficiency Newsletters
    • Colorado Water Wise – The December 2011 issue includes articles on fixture and appliance replacement, residential water surveys, CII water use, and more.
    • Public Service Commission of Wisconsin Water Currents – The Jan-Feb 2012 issue has articles on water saving potential in Wisconsin, conservation-oriented rates, Great Lakes region water pricing and more.  Get your copy here.
    • UK Water Industry Research Newsletter Released – Check out the latest issue which features articles on leakage, climate change, phosphorus dosing, and more. 
  • Drainline Carry Research Plan Available – The Plumbing Efficiency Research Coalition (PERC) has made available their test plan for measuring the impact of water efficient toilet fixtures in drainline transport relative to other plumbing system variables, including pitch, and flush volume. 
  • Garbage Disposer Video Shows Drainline Carry from the Kitchen Sink – An interesting new video from InSinkerator shows what happens after food waste leaves the kitchen sink.
  • Registration Open for Sustainable Water Management Conference – AWWA will host the Sustainable Water Management Conference March 18 – 21, 2012 in Portland, OR.  Full registration is $595 for AWWA members and $770 for non-members.
  • Colorado Springs Considers Subsidy Tap Fee Rates for Non-Residential Customers – Colorado Springs, CO is considering a dramatic decrease in the amount of money it charges customers who require a1 inch meter or larger to join the system.  The move, designed to be “business friendly” would shift more costs onto rate payers who were recently hit by a 40% rate increase from the utility to pay for new supply infrastructure.  Learn more here.
  • Energy Vampires - Yes, vampires occupy your home and office.  However, these are not the kind from True Blood but rather the kind that suck electricity even when you don’t know it. Ten to fifteen percent of the power in a building may be consumed by vampires like wall chargers and appliances.  Learn more here. 

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.

Don’t forget to like and follow AWE on   Facebook and  Twitter for your chance to win an iPod Touch.

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.