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...

AWE State Chapter #1: California Water Efficiency Partnership Launches March 7 

 CalWEP 2018 Launch Invitation(2)AWE will officially launch its first state chapter, the California Water Efficiency Partnership, at a gala event in Sacramento on March 7. The formal launch of the first state chapter ushers in a new era and program model for AWE.

The event, which includes a dinner and reception, will celebrate the vision leadership, commitment and work to define a new Partnership and launch a new era for water efficiency in California.  Introductory remarks will be presented by Steven Moore, Vice Chair of the California Water Resources Control Board.

The event is at Vizcaya Sacramento and includes music, wine and craft beer tasting, dinner, and entertainment. Tickets are $75 per person for members and $90 per person non-members. To RSVP, contact Michael Walker - 916-552-5885.

Dry Times – Lagging Snowpack Across the West 

 Utah snowpack summary Feb 2018Mountain snowpack reports taken in early February paint a grim picture of snowpack across the Western US in critical basins for water supply.  Water managers are holding their collective breath in hopes that storms will start tracking farther south, bringing needed moisture.

In Colorado, the statewide snowpack stands at just 61% of average and the Rio Grande basin is at 33% of average, the Arkansas is 54% of average and the Upper Colorado River Basin stands at 75% of average.

In Utah, snow pack in all southern river basins is less than 50% of average.  Basins in the middle of the state are below 60% of average and just a few northern Utah river basins are above 80% of average, led by the Raft River basin at 85%.

In California, snow pack stands at a bleak 27% of average statewide.  Because of wet weather in 2017, many California reservoirs are at or close to capacity, but California water officials are watching winter conditions with dismay.

Anne Carroll and Ric Miles Join AWE Board of Directors 

The Alliance for Water Efficiency has added two distinguished new directors to our Board, Anne Carroll and Ric Miles. Welcome Anne and Ric!

headshot-anne-carroll-drcAnne Carroll is the Director of the Office of Water Resources (OWR) within the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation. Anne has 20 years of experience in the field of water resources protection and management.  As OWR Director, Anne oversees 12 staff in three program areas: Water Resources Science and Planning (including staff to the Massachusetts Water Resources Commission, the Drought Management Task Force and the United States Geological Survey Cooperative Program), the Massachusetts Lakes and Ponds Program, and the Massachusetts Flood Hazard Management Program. Anne and her staff are responsible for developing, coordinating and overseeing the Commonwealth’s water policy and planning activities to ensure that Massachusetts will have plentiful water to support health, safety, economic development, and ecological vitality for generations to come. Anne received her M.S. in Aquatic Ecology from the University of Michigan, School of Natural Resources and Environment, where she studied Michigan Rivers.

headshot-ric-miles-rachioRic Miles is Vice President, Corporate Development for Rachio, Inc. Ric has 35 years of experience in high technology, serving in various sales, marketing and executive roles. He founded IntelliReal in 2005 and remained CEO through Equifax’s 2011 acquisition of the Company. Miles joined Equifax as senior vice president in charge of Property Data and Analytics, and remained in place through 2013. He currently drives strategy and corporate development for Rachio, Inc. Prior to IntelliReal, Miles was CEO of Workplace Software in NYC, successfully building and then selling this company. He served as EVP of field operations for FrontRange Solutions (formerly Goldmine Software), managing a global team of over 400 sales, marketing, services and support personnel. Prior to FrontRange, Mr. Miles was in Silicon Valley as SVP of Global Alliances at PeopleSoft. He joined PeopleSoft as part of the merger with Vantive – an industry-leading provider of CRM solutions. At Vantive, he served as chief marketing officer. Mr. Miles was also VP of solutions marketing at Compaq. Ric holds an MBA in finance from Xavier University, a BS with honors from Purdue University, and custom executive programs at both Harvard Business School and the London Business School.

AWE Webinar Will Unveil State Scorecard Update Results 

Scorecard Report Cover (Sm)Come learn how your state stacks up when it comes to water efficiency actions and policies when the new, updated Alliance for Water Efficiency and Environmental Law Institute State Scorecard Update is released. 

AWE will hold a 90-minute webinar on the new scorecard results on March 21 at 2 p.m CST. This not-to-be-missed webinar will address changes in state-level laws pertaining to efficiency and conservation, as well as discuss a newly added survey of state climate resiliency policies. It will also cover national trends and observations from the research, show specific highlights, and provide perspectives from a state-level official. 

Learn more and register here..

California Water Efficiency Drives Energy Savings – New Study 

CA AqueductIn April 2015, the Governor of California mandated a 25% statewide reduction in water consumption (relative to 2013 levels) by urban water suppliers. The more than 400 public water agencies affected by the regulation were also required to report monthly progress towards the conservation goal to the State Water Resources Control Board.

A new study from UC Davis found that California succeeded in saving 524 000 million gallons (MG) of water (a 24.5% decrease relative to the 2013 baseline) over the mandate period, which translates into 1830 GWh total electricity savings, and a GHG emissions reduction of 521,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (MT CO2e).

For comparison, the total electricity savings linked to water conservation are approximately 11% greater than the savings achieved by the investor-owned electricity utilities’ efficiency programs for roughly the same time period, and the GHG savings represent the equivalent of taking about 111,000 cars off the road for a year.

These indirect, large-scale electricity and GHG savings were achieved at costs that were competitive with existing programs that target electricity and GHG savings directly and independently.

The authors built a companion website, called H2Open, for this research effort that allows users to view and explore the data and results across scales, from individual water utilities to the statewide summary.

National Multi-Family Water Use Study Released by Water Research Foundation 

building logoThe Water Research Foundation has released the final report of a significant study on water use in multi-family housing, a sector that has received scant research attention.

Water Use in the Multi-Family Housing Sector (2018) provides analysis on multi-family consumption patterns and offers practical strategies for estimating multi-family water use to more easily allow utilities to categorize, estimate, and forecast water use for prominent multi-family water use categories.

The research was led by urban demand expert Jack Kiefer, Ph.D and Lisa Krentz. of Hazen and Sawyer and included participation from Denver, CO, New York, NY, Phoenix, AZ, San Diego, CA, and Tampa, FL.  The study found that multi-family water consumption is less sensitive to changes in price, income, and weather than single-family consumption.  It also concluded that as housing becomes denser in terms of the average number of units per acre, average water use per dwelling unit tends to decrease.

The executive summary from the report is available for free download.  The full report is available to Water Research Foundation subscribers.

DOE’s Delay in Issuing Energy-Saver Rules Questioned 

DOE LogoA California federal judge seemed skeptical that the U.S. Department of Energy could stall its own energy conservation standards for household and industrial appliances, saying at a hearing in January that he didn’t see why publishing the finalized rules was a discretionary decision, when all it required was “the push of a button.”

The rules were finalized back in December 2016 and were then posted on the DOE’s website for a 45-day error-correction period. But when that ended, the rules were never published to the Federal Register. A lawsuit brought by the National Resources Defense Council and other environmental groups says that’s illegal under the department’s own rules, but the DOE countered in a motion to dismiss that it wouldn’t have limited its own discretion to alter or scrap the new standards.

That argument didn’t sit well with U.S. District Judge Vince Chabria, who said during the January hearing in San Francisco that the decision to publish the appliance regulations seemed nondiscretionary. While he acknowledged the D.C. Circuit has found that an agency is not duty-bound to pass draft rules that lack firm publication deadlines, he said the case before him “shows why the rule is overbroad.”

“I’ve got to say this doesn't seem like that difficult a case,” he said. “I don't think there’s any reasonable argument that the decision of when to publish rules in the Federal Register involves any discretion under any common sense meaning of that term. It doesn’t involve scarce agency resources. ... It’s something fairly close to the push of a button.”

Learn more here. 

Journal AWWA: Measuring Household Affordability for Water and Sewer Utilities 

 dollar-sign-arrow-upA recent article in the Journal of the American Water Works Association tackles the important issue of affordability of water and sewer services across the US.  Authored by Manuel Teodoro, the article notes that rising costs and recent high-profile crises have brought renewed and increasing attention to the affordability of water and sewer service.

This article advances a more robust method for measuring the affordability of water and sewer service for low-income households, which accounts for essential household water needs, income disparities, and core non-water/sewer costs. The author then applies the approach to measure water and sewer service affordability in the 25 largest US cities.

Review the abstract and full article (AWWA members) here. 

LBL Analysis Identifies Benefits of a National Water Demand Survey 

The Lawrence Berkley National Labs have released a new report titled, “Benefits of a National Survey on Water Demand”.  The report summarizes current publicly available water demand information and recommends data parameters for a national water demand survey.

In the report, LBL discusses the tremendous costs required to maintain and improve its water and wastewater infrastructure. The report suggests that effective management of water delivery and treatment systems would benefit from a regular national water demand data collection effort that captures consumption by economic sector as well as by end use. This would go beyond current data collected and published by the USGS.

The LBL report contends that a water demand survey would provide the data necessary to better understand water demand trends, and ultimately to assess implications for water infrastructure needs and the U.S. economy.

US Supreme Court Hears Two Major Water Cases 

supreme courtWater was the topic of the day at the US Supreme Court on January 8, 2018 as oral argument was heard in two major water cases.  The SCOTUS.blog site has excellent coverage on the full details of each case (links below).

The two cases are quite different and in very different stages of argument.  On January 8, each case was give one hour, with each side taking 30 minutes.  Most of the two-hour session was composed of questions from the bench, many coming from Justices Ginsberg, Kagen, and Sotomayor.

TX v. NM and CO 141, Original involves the flow of the Rio Grande River and releases from Elephant Butte Reservoir in New Mexico.  New Mexico has not filed a response to the complaint from Texas and instead has filed a motion to dismiss the case.  The arguments in the SCOTUS centered around the proper role of the US government in the dispute, the motion to dismiss filed by New Mexico against the state of Texas and the United States, and motions to intervene filed by an irrigation district and a water improvement district.

FL v. GA 142, Original, involves flow in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) river basin and has already been the subject of a five week trial before a special master in 2016.  The special master found in favor of Georgia stating that he was not able to grant any relief to Florida because the US Corps of Engineers, which controls flows through five different dams on the river basins, was not enjoined to the case. Florida is seeking to have the case returned to the special master, while Georgia urged the Court to accept the special master’s findings.

Arguments before the Supreme Court centered around the issues of jurisdiction, redressability, and the proper role of the US in the dispute.  While the FL v. GA trial included testimony about municipal and industrial water demand, this topic did not come up in questions asked on January 8.

Rulings in both cases are expected in June.

2018 Sustainable Water Management Conference Set for Seattle 

Sustainable WM 2018The Alliance for Water Efficiency is proud to be a technical cosponsor for the AWWA Sustainable Water Management Conference, to be held March 25-28, 2018 in Seattle Washington.

This exciting conference will present 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.

AWE's Net Blue program will be featured in the opening general session of the conference, which will focus on the connection between water and land use.

Register Now for the Next Generation Water Summit in Santa Fe 

nextgenerationwatersummitThe 2nd annual Next Generation Water Summit will be held April 29-May 1, 2018 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. This not-to-be-missed conference features over 40 unique sessions on water conservation and water reuse in the arid Southwest.

The keynote speaker will be Jonathan Overpeck, who will present on the effects of climate change on Colorado River flows. AWE's Bill Christiansen is also a featured speaker and will present on the Net Blue initiative.

An earlybird discount is available until March 7. There is also a 10% discount code available to AWE members! Contact Liam at AWE for the discount code.

Registration is open now and the program can be found here. 

A special early bird rate is available through February 23. 

AWE Member Spotlight 

CityInsight Works with the DWSD to Bring Real-Time Usage Data to Detroit Water Customers

This month we shine the AWE member spotlight on CityInsight, a Michigan-based technology company. Spotlight 

After seeing some Detroit residents struggle to pay their water bills in the recent years, Abess Makki started CityInsight, which recently became a member of the Alliance for Water Efficiency. The company partnered with the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) to help residents save water and lower their bills.

CityInsight_appCityInsight’s product, an app and web portal for residents, and a “superportal” for the DWSD, went live in August 2017. It gives residents access to their water bills, payment options, customer support, and the ability to monitor their water usage online. CityInsight also developed an Amazon Alexa skill, allowing residents to ask Alexa about their water usage and bills. The data available to the residents is updated hourly since Detroit uses smart meters. The ability to access real-time water usage not only builds trust between the residents and the DWSD, but also enables residents to reduce their water use before the end of their billing cycle if needed. This ability to see a change in their overall usage as an effect of their behavior is motivation to conserve when a monthly water bill may not be enough. 

The customer portal allows residents to view their current billing period usage as a percentage of their last billing cycle to ensure that they stay on track for their usage goals. If a customer is halfway through their billing cycle and the portal shows them that they are using more water than in the previous cycle, they know they have to be more conscious about their water usage. Similarly, if they have not changed their behavior within a week of the current billing cycle, when they are already nearing their previous cycle’s usage, it could be an indication of a leak.

Nathan Christie, COO of CityInsight, explains that they tailor the product features to the community they are working with to ensure the differences in the community -- such as the goals of the water utility, whether they use smart meters or not, and the demographics of the community -- are taken into consideration. CityInsight is working to release their product in a few other communities this summer.

To learn more about how engaging customers through technology can influence customer behavior and increase conservation program participation, watch AWE’s webinar, Merging Technology and Science to Instill a Water Ethic. Learn more about CityInsight 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.