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...

January Snowfall No-Show Deepens California Drought Fears, Water Use Down 22% 

Sierra-snowpack-14-15-compare-trimJanuary 2015 was one of the least snowiest on record in the Western U.S., leaving the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada at historically low levels, and prompting drought response preparation across California.

December 2014 brought much needed precipitation to a drought-stricken California resulting in a visibly greener land cover in early 2015 compared to the same time the previous year, as seen above in these Suomi NPP satellite images. But January was a different story and barely any snow fell on the Sierra Nevada Mountains. This lack of precipitation, along with warmer than normal temperatures, has resulted in much lower snowpack in the Sierras when comparing 2014 and 2015. 

California water users have responded to this challenge (aided by a wet end to 2014) by reducing water use by 22%, as announced by the State Water Resources Control Board on Feb. 3. In the most recent survey of nearly 400 California urban water retailers, the amount of water conserved by the state’s large urban water agency customers statewide jumped from 10 percent in November to 22 percent in December, in year-over-year water use comparisons. The Control Board reported that total water use by individual Californians continued to decline in December, another positive development as the state is threatened by a fourth consecutive dry year.

“We have just gone through the driest January on record and it appears we are entering a fourth year of drought which is awful to contemplate but we must,” said State Water Board Chair Felicia Marcus. “Conservation is still the smartest and most cost effective way to deal with this difficult drought.”

usbrIn related news, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation released its 2015 California Drought Plan. The agency that operates dams and canals prioritizes three goals in its drought operations plan:

1) Meeting human drinking, sanitation, and public safety needs.

2) Repelling saltwater out of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the state’s water hub that is home to endangered species, farms, and municipal water intakes.

3) Maintaining enough cold water in reservoirs to keep migrating salmon alive while protecting other endangered species.

Alliance for Water Efficiency Appoints Two New Board Members 

RVhsThe Alliance for Water Efficiency Board of Directors announced that it has elected Ronald Voglewede, Global Sustainability Director of Whirlpool Corporation and Rob Zimmerman, Senior Channel Manager - Sustainability of Kohler Co., as Directors of AWE.

"The Alliance is thrilled to welcome two accomplished and highly qualified leaders to our Board,” said Mary Ann Dickinson, President and CEO of the Alliance for Water Efficiency. “As the Alliance continues to expand our work to address immediate challenges and protect water supplies for the future, our Board becomes even more vital in providing a strategic vision and guidance. Both of these new Directors are leaders in sustainability, and will bring great energy and needed expertise to our mission to help communities, businesses and individuals be good stewards of our water resources.”

RZhsVoglewede directs Whirlpool's North American sustainability strategy and execution, and is responsible for developing and leading the cross category execution plans for energy and sustainability within Whirlpool’s corporate and branded portfolio by creating long term sustainable value.

Zimmerman is responsible for developing, implementing, and executing Kohler’s water efficiency and sustainability strategies across all business units and communicating progress to consumers and trade partners.

The Alliance Board expressed deep appreciation to Susan Stratton and Gunnar Baldwin, transitioning off the board, for their seven years of service each. Ms. Stratton is the Executive Director of the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance. Mr. Baldwin is a Water Efficiency Specialist at TOTO USA, Inc.

Learn more about AWE’s newest board members here. 

 AWE Review of Outdoor Water Savings Programs Released 

Outdoor Water Savings LogoThe Alliance for Water Efficiency released in January the first Phase of its Outdoor Water Savings Research Initiative - a report detailing the research compiled to date and identifying where the gaps in the research occur.  The report is the first step in AWE’s project to help clarify what programs, practices, and irrigation technologies save the most water.  The report was prepared for AWE by the project team of Peter Mayer, Paul Lander, and Diana Glenn.

Outdoor-phase-1-report-coverThe Research Report summarizes the work completed in Phase 1 of the AWE Outdoor Water Savings Research Initiative. Phase 1 is a review, analysis, and synthesis of published research on outdoor water use and water savings. In particular, studies that documented water savings were sought. The research in Phase 1 was conducted specifically for the purpose of informing the direction of the AWE Outdoor Water Savings Research Initiative so that the limited research budget can be focused on the area(s) of greatest need.

AWE plans to implement a comprehensive Outdoor Water Savings Research Program to provide relevant, statistically validated, and peer reviewed information on water savings and costs from different outdoor measures and programs, regional differences, and evaluation methods, and to provide key inputs for the AWE Conservation Tracking Tool and other demand forecasting models.

Contributions of funding and data are being sought from willing utility partners.  If you would like to be part of this study, please contact the AWE office here. 

Learn more and download a copy of the Phase 1 Outdoor Water Savings Study here. 

 AWE Publishes Report on Water Offset Policies and Introduces Net Blue 

net-blue-report-imageThe Alliance for Water Efficiency released a report in January, authored by AWE Program Manager Bill Christiansen, documenting policies in the United States that require the projected water demand of new development to be offset with efficiency improvements in existing structures. AWE also announced Net Blue, a collaborative effort of AWE, the Environmental Law Institute, and River Network that will create tools and resources to help communities grow sustainably.

The Net Blue partners will work with communities in different regions throughout North America to develop the ordinance components and to ensure it is adaptable in political climates, legal frameworks, and environmental challenges. The project partners are seeking additional pilot/partner communities to participate.  Any interested parties are encouraged to contact AWE here. 

The new report, Water Offset Policies for Water-Neutral Community Growth, reviews various water offset policies implemented in communities throughout the United States.  Get more information and download the report here. 

Read AWE's post on National Geographic's Water Currents Blog: No Water, No Growth: Are Water-Neutral Growth Programs the Key to Building Sustainable Communities? 

  AWWA Journal Annual Conservation Issue Features Articles from AWE 

2-2015_AWWA_Journal_coverThe annual conservation issue of the AWWA Journal (Feb. 2015) includes three significant contributions from Alliance for Water Efficiency staff and consultants.  AWE contributed the following articles to this issue of the Journal:

  • Aligning Water Rates, Revenues, and Resources: Strategies for Today’s Utility Managers – Mary Ann Dickinson, Thomas Chesnutt, and Megan Chery
  • Outdoor Water Use: Abundant Savings, Scarce Research – Peter Mayer, Paul Lander, and Diana Glenn
  • Water Demand Offset Policies in the United States – William Christiansen

In addition to these three articles, this Conservation issue of the Journal has an article by Thomas Chesnutt which features the AWE Water Conservation Tracking Tool.

Check out the February 2015 issue of the AWWA Journal here. 

 WaterSense Updates Four Product Specifications 

WaterSense Logo (gif)WaterSense had announced updates to their Compendium of WaterSense Product Specification and Certification and Labeling Clarifications that affect specifications and other technical documents, including:

  • High-Efficiency Lavatory Faucet Specification
  • WaterSense Specification for Showerheads
  • WaterSense Specification for Weather-Based Irrigation Controllers
  • WaterSense Product Certification System Version 2.0

 Registration Open for IWA’s Efficient2015 in Cincinnati 

iwalogoEarly Registration is now open for the joint conference of Efficient2015 and PI2015, which will be held April 20-24, 2015 in Cincinnati, OH at the beautiful historic Hilton Netherland Plaza Hotel.  This is a combined conference of the topics of water efficiency and performance benchmarking, and a special focus of the conference will be the discussion and development of performance indicators for measuring water efficiency progress.

The program features 169 presentations and 25 posters from 37 countries, addressing the challenges that water services are facing in the 21st century including: Water scarcity, climate change, increasing demand, reducing network leakage, and the deterioration of water resources. This will be an outstanding event, don’t miss it.

Early registration rates are only available until March 1.  Learn more and register here. 

 A Decade of Drought Has Little Effect on Texans’ Water Knowledge, New Research Shows 

texasA new statewide poll commissioned by the Texas Water Foundation shows only 28 percent of Texans say they “definitely know” the natural source of their drinking water -- the exact same percent as 10 years ago. This statistic is troubling – especially after a period of record drought -- because research shows a direct correlation between knowing where your water comes from and your willingness to conserve.

 “You’d think that a decade of drought would get people to pay attention to where their water comes from,” said TWF Executive Director Carole Baker. “Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that three-quarters of Texans don’t know where their water comes from since the State of Texas has not invested in conservation education. However in North Texas, they’ve proven how increased knowledge can dramatically curb consumption despite tremendous population growth and lingering drought.”

Learn more about the TWF survey results here. 

 Mehan Tapped as Interim President of the U.S. Water Alliance 

mehan-tracy-III-US-water-alliance-2015G. Tracy Mehan, III will serve as the Interim President for the U.S. Water Alliance.  Mehan replaces Ben Grumbles, who served as Alliance President from 2010 until 2015, when he accepted Maryland Governor Larry Hogan’s designation as Secretary of the Environment. 

“I am excited and grateful that Tracy Mehan has accepted the position for the U. S. Water Alliance,” said Dick Champion, Alliance Board Chairman. “Tracy’s appointment will position the Alliance to continue to flow forward in uniting people and policies for One Water Sustainability. He brings to the Alliance extraordinary knowledge, passion and systems thinking.”

Prior to taking the Interim Presidency, Mehan has crafted a long and accomplished career working in various roles to promote and enforce environmental sustainability and watershed protection and conservation. Mehan was Principal with the Cadmus Group, Inc. an environmental consulting firm, from 2004 to 2014. From 2001-2004 he served as Assistant Administrator for Water at the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Learn more about Mehan and the U.S. Water Alliance here. 

 2015 U.S. Water Prize Awarded to San Diego, Coke, and EPRI 

US_Water_Prize_logoThe U.S. Water Alliance recently announced the 5th annual U.S. Water Prize winners for 2015: the City of San Diego Public Utilities Department, California; Electric Power Research Institute, Palo Alto, California; and The Coca-Cola Company, Atlanta, Georgia.

The U.S. Water Prize was created by the U.S. Water Alliance (USWA) to elevate organizations with strategies that promote the value of water and the power of innovating and integrating for one water sustainability. The Alliance for Water Efficiency received the award in 2014.

“These are inspiring organizations,” said Dick Champion, Chairman of the USWA Board of Directors. “They are at the forefront of improving and protecting the health of U.S. watersheds. Through technology, collaboration, and education these organizations are driving the United States to a more sustainable water future.” Winners were selected representing municipal, non-profit, and business categories.

Learn more about the 2015 U.S. Water Prize winners here. 

 North American Water Loss Conference Set for December 8-9, 2015 in Georgia 

Mark your calendars for the first North American Water Loss Conference to be held December 8-9, 2015 at the Georgia International Convention Center in College Park.  It is anticipated this event, presented by AWE, AWWA, and the Georgia Association of Water Professionals, will be the premier assemblage of policy and technical experts on non-revenue water management in North America.

The two-day conference will focus on developing water loss policies, auditing water systems, reducing apparent losses, controlling leakage, managing pressures, and documenting progress for both utilities and regulators. There will also be exhibits on the latest services and technology.

The call for abstracts has now been issued and can be viewed here. 

 Austin, TX Offers Rebates for A/C Condensate Recovery 

Austin, TX is implementing an innovative commercial conservation program aimed at cooling towers.  Austin Water announced it will offer rebates up to $100,000 for air conditioning condensate (A/C) recovery systems to use as cooling tower makeup water, landscape irrigation, process water, indoor toilet flushing, and other non-potable water uses.   This is part of Austin’s program to promote on-site alternative sources of water including condensate from air handlers for air conditioning systems.

According to Austin Water, in large commercial buildings, condensate recovery often produces enough water to supply all landscape irrigation needs and a significant portion of makeup water for cooling towers.  In Austin, which experiences high temperatures and high humidity, a condensate recovery system for a large building can produce a gallon of condensate per minute or over 1,400 gallons a day.

Austin Water reports that in large building over 100,000 square feet, a condensate recovery system can pay for itself in less than six months.  Facilities that require closely controlled humidity conditions, such as technology manufacturing or pharmacy storage, are also good candidates for condensate recovery.

Learn more here. 

  12 Years Later, Imperial Valley Water Transfer Dispute Settled 

CaliforniaImperial County and the Imperial Irrigation District announced a settlement in a long-running legal battle in early February, ending 12 years of litigation over a water transfer deal and its effects on the shrinking Salton Sea.

The case stems from the 2003 Quantification Settlement Agreement, or QSA, the largest agricultural-to-urban water transfer in U.S. history. Under that deal, increasing amounts of water are to be transferred from the farmland of the Imperial Valley to urban areas in San Diego County and the Coachella Valley.

Imperial County had challenged the IID’s approval of the water transfer in court, concerned about the costs of controlling increasing airborne dust as the lake’s decline leaves growing stretches of lakebed exposed.

The Imperial Irrigation District announced the settlement, saying it had agreed to waive its court costs and pay Imperial County $750,000 to dismiss a pending appeal.

Learn more here. 

  Program Managers Requested to Participate in Xeriscape/Irrigation Survey 

Conservation program managers are invited to complete an anonymous on-line survey by 2/18/15 to help answer the question: Does inclusion of irrigation system education help or hinder the water savings potential of Xeriscape and similar landscape water-efficiency programs? The goal of this graduate research effort is to obtain insights regarding water agency savings derived from Xeriscape and other landscape-related water conservation outreach programs. Survey results will be tabulated for graduate research.  Click here to take the survey.  For more information please contact Anna Thurston.

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.