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...

Washington Legislative Update: Water Efficiency Measures Not Yet Approved

By Mary Ann Dickinson, AWE President and CEO

MAD.jpgAWE continues to work at the federal level promoting the benefits of water efficiency and advocating that a national priority be placed on water efficiency programs.  We are actively tracking pending legislation to determine opportunities to add water efficiency. 

The AWE Legislative Watch website  lists 27 bills that are currently pending in Congress which do the following: 

  1. Add water efficiency to energy efficiency in various programs;
  2. Authorize funds for needed water efficiency research;
  3. Authorize consumer incentives for WaterSense products;
  4. Authorize payment for documented water efficiency savings in business and industry; and
  5. Formally authorize the WaterSense labeling program.

However, as of this date, none of these important measures have passed both the House and the Senate.

congressThe most recent discussion concerns the Home Star bill to provide consumer incentives for residential energy efficiency retrofits.  The House of Representatives passed their version of the Home Star Energy Retrofit bill, H.R. 5019, on May 6, 2010.  The House bill contains no incentives for installing water-efficient products, despite the hard work of numerous stakeholders.

The Senate version of the Home Star bill, S. 3434, was introduced on May 27, 2010 by Senator Larry Bingaman and currently contains no water efficiency retrofit/WaterSense program language. But there is hope, and AWE members should make their voices heard.  Senator Ron Wyden, D-OR, is proposing a water efficiency retrofit rebate program of WaterSense-labeled products which he plans to offer as an amendment to the Senate version of the Home Star Energy Efficiency Retrofit bill.   The Bingaman bill has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee, and as of June 18, no further action on the legislation has been scheduled.  With two weeks remaining before the July 4 congressional recess, it appears likely that any further action on the bill will be after the recess.

The good news is that we have some time to marshal support.  We need your help!  Contact your Senators and urge that they support the Wyden amendment.  For detailed information on the Wyden amendment and what it contains, click here.

As the drama unfolds in Washington, it is clear that the water efficiency community is at a disadvantage.  We do not have the resources or the wide advocacy network of the energy efficiency community.  Furthermore, the energy efficiency advocates are reluctant to add water efficiency to what is already a tightly funded energy efficiency package, and are in general not supporting the Wyden amendment package.  Clearly a better partnership needs to be forged.  This has to be fixed.  AWE will make a concerted effort to begin building bridges with energy efficiency advocates to remedy this problem.  We will never see progressive federal policy on water efficiency unless our energy efficiency brethren are involved and in active and open support of the effort.  Right now that is not happening.

Study Compares Water Rates Across 30 Metro Areas

Circle-of-blue-logoA new study from Circle of Blue compares water rates in 30 metropolitan regions in the United States found that some cities in rain-scarce regions have the lowest residential water rates and the highest level of water use. A family of four using 100 gallons per person each day will pay on average $34.29 a month in Phoenix compared to $65.47 for the same amount in Boston.

The survey, conducted by Circle of Blue over the last several months, also found that average daily residential water use ranged from a low of 41 gallons per person in Boston to a high of 211 gallons per person in Fresno, Calif.

The Circle of Blue survey included data on water rates and water usage from the 20 largest U.S. cities, according to the 2000 Census, and ten regionally representative cities to gain a broad view of urban water pricing. The survey comes as municipal water departments and their customers across the country contend with the ironic and unintended consequence of the economic recession and water conservation. In most major cities water use is declining while rates charged to residential customers are rising.

Despite the hand wringing over prices, water in the U.S. remains cheap. In most cities surveyed by Circle of Blue a family of four can buy enough water for its indoor needs–50 gallons per person per day for washing, drinking, cooking and flushing–for less than $25 per month, which is a relatively small portion of a family budget.

Learn more here.

Comment Period Begins on New SWAT Protocol for Pressure Regulated Heads

IA’s Smart Water Application Technologies has released the first draft protocol for testing pressure regulated sprinklers.  The draft will be available for public comment for 90 days, closing on Aug. 28, 2010.

Many irrigation systems have excessive pressure for the type of equipment that has been installed.

To address the potential problem of overpressurization, several manufacturers have designed and manufactured sprinkler heads that regulate pressure to the nozzle over a range of inlet pressures.

The protocol open for public comment measures and evaluates the performance of pressure regulation of pressure regulated spray body sprinklers against their nominally advertised performance. 

During the comment period, beta testing will verify the procedures outlined in the protocol. The SWAT Working Group will post all comments weekly, then submit responses after the closing date. View the draft protocol at www.swatirrigation.org.  Protocols are also available for climatological controllers, soil moisture sensors, and rain shut-off devices.

AWE Annual Membership Meeting Set for October 5 in Las Vegas, Awards Banquet on October 6

awelogomini_altThe Alliance for Water Efficiency will hold its annual membership meeting on Tuesday, October 5 in Las Vegas, NV - one day before the start of the Water Smart Innovations conference.  Author Jamie Workman (profiled in the March issue of Water Efficiency Watch) will be the featured speaker at the annual meeting.  This event is free and open to all current and prospective members of AWE.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense Program, in conjunction with the Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE), will present its annual WaterSense Partner of the Year Awards at a banquet at the Water Smart Innovations Conference on Wednesday, October 6.  Click here for information, registration, and tickets.

New Water Pricing Primer from POLIS Project

pricing coverWorth Every Penny – Conservation-Oriented Water Pricing in Canada , published by the University of Victoria’s POLIS Water Sustainability Project, is a primer on how to reform water pricing. The report is aimed at water managers and municipal leaders across Canada and makes the economic case for water conservation and sustainable water service infrastructure in Canada as a way to increase water security for communities. 

“Water infrastructure in many Canadian towns and cities is deteriorating, and water bills are not enough to even cover the costs of operation,” says Oliver M. Brandes, co-author and leader of the POLIS Water Sustainability Project at UVic. “Communities are relying on federal and provincial government subsidies to operate their water systems. Yet, conservation-oriented water pricing has the potential to stabilize revenue, address deteriorating water infrastructure and to contribute towards comprehensive water conservation programs.”

Worth Every Penny provides practical economic and technical information about how to implement conservation-oriented water pricing—starting with setting water rates sufficiently high to encourage conservation. Lead examples from communities on Vancouver Island and cities such as Halifax and Guelph are used to demonstrate successes.  These communities in particular have used rates to reduce water demand and improve environmental performance without negative impacts on low-income families.

Harris County WCID to Test Sustainable Landscape Rating System

Harris County Water Control Improvement District 132 will help create the nation’s first ever voluntary rating system for “green” landscape design.  Harris County WCID’s Water Conservation Center was chosen as one of 150 sites and projects around the globe to participate in a test of a new landscape design rating system develop by the Sustainable Sites Initiative™, a partnership of the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas at Austin and the United States Botanic Garden.

Just as the LEED® Green Building Rating System™ has transformed the building industry, the Sustainable Sites Initiative™ hopes this new system will inspire landscape designs  that actually give back to the environment.  Sustainable landscapes with and without buildings can clean water, conserve energy, reduce pollution and restore habitats, while providing significant economic and social benefits to land owners and municipalities.

The new 250 point scale and star system was developed to help achieve and recognize different levels of landscape sustainability.  The new system awards credits for soils, vegetations, construction, and maintenance.  Researchers will use feedback from Harris County and others during the pilot phase of the effort which runs through June 2012.  The final rating system and reference guide is expected to be released in early 2013.

The U.S. Green Building Council, a stakeholder in the Sustainable Sites Initiative, anticipates incorporating the guidelines and performance benchmarks into future iterations of its LEED® Green Building Rating System™.

Read more here. 

Pricing and Conservation Seen as Solution for European Water Scarcity

Euro castleA new European Commission (EC) report on the European Union's strategy to tackle water scarcity and drought states that greater efforts on pricing and efficiency are needed to reverse the over-exploitation of Europe's limited water resources.

Despite more rainfall in southern European countries in 2009 than in previous years, the report warns that greater efforts are still needed to stop and reverse the mistreatment of Europe's finite water resources. An effective water pricing policy, water efficiency and water saving measures are essential to ensure that Europe has enough good quality water to meet the needs of users and to face the challenges of a changing climate, it concludes.

The EC carried out in-depth assessments of water scarcity and drought in the EU in 2006 and early 2007. Following this assessment, the EC presented a set of policy options to increase water savings in 2007, and highlighted the need to improve the financing of water efficiency within the framework of existing sector policies.

This second follow-up report notes that an effective water pricing policy and water-saving measures are essential to ensure that Europe has enough quality water to meet societal needs and face the challenge of climate change. The report also warns that some member states have begun to suffer “permanent scarcity across the whole country”.

Learn more here.

Californians Recognize Water Shortage: Study

CaliforniaDespite significant winter rainfall, most California residents view the state's water shortage as a serious problem and say they are willing to conserve, according to results of a new survey.

Of the 1,200 people surveyed by telephone last month, 81 percent said the state has an ongoing water shortage, even in times of normal rainfall. A little more than one-fourth of the respondents classified the situation as a crisis, and just over half said it is significant; 13 percent termed it a minor problem, and 4 percent said the state's water situation is not a problem at all. Two percent didn't know.

The answers crossed geographic lines in the four major media markets surveyed -- San Diego, Los Angeles, Sacramento and San Francisco.

The findings dovetailed with the re-launch of a state-sponsored conservation campaign, Save Our Water . The $468,000 public-education program by the state Department of Water Resources and Association of California Water Agencies features real people's stories about how they saved water, from replacing grass with native plants to turning off the faucet when brushing teeth.

Despite near-normal precipitation this year, water providers are hamstrung by environmental restrictions in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the heart of the state's water system, said Mark Cowin, director of the Department of Water Resources.  In addition, reservoir storage is still not at 100 percent, continued drought remains a possibility, and the state's population will continue growing, he said.

Santa Cruz Passes New Irrigation Installation Regulations

The Santa Cruz, California city council has passed stricter measures for irrigation installation and landscape water use in future housing developments. The new regulations will cover single-family homes with landscaped areas over 2,500 sq. ft., as well as new irrigation installed during renovations of current developments. Existing homes or businesses that have less than an acre of developed landscape would not be affected.

In order to comply with the new rules, developers will have to submit plans to the city for any new single-family homes that meet the regulation requirements, or for single- and dual-unit projects built on properties larger than 10,000 sq. ft. In addition, turf will no longer be permitted on slopes greater than 5%. Developments covered under the rules will also have to install sensor-based irrigation controllers.

City officials say that the new rules could lead to a reduction of at least 10% in landscape water use.

IA Water Conference July 13-14 in Williamsburg, VA

Smart Irrigation Month Logo (July 09)The Irrigation Association's Water Conference brings strategists, academics, environmentalists and water managers together with irrigation practitioners to discuss the world's water challenges and our industry's role in providing solutions. Building on the success of last year's inaugural event, the expanded, day-and-a-half program includes:

Keynote presentation by Colorado Supreme Court Justice Gregory J. Hobbs.

  • Perspectives on water trends from industry, government and academic thought leaders.
  • Panel presentations and facilitated discussions on agriculture and turf/landscape challenges and solutions.
  • Success stories and lessons learned from the United States and around the world.
  • Roundtable discussions and networking with industry leaders.

Click here to download the conference brochure; register by June 23 to receive the early-bird registration rate

IAPMO Event Promotes Water Innovation and Emerging Technology

IapmoSome of the leading minds in water efficiency, plumbing and mechanical technology converged in Ontario, Calif., May 11 and 12, for the Second International Emerging Technology Symposium. Co-convened by IAPMO and the World Plumbing Council, the event brought together participants from around the globe, from a wide range of fields, including engineers, policy makers, manufacturers, building officials and contractors.
Noted 'Eco-Pioneer' and interim head of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power S. David Freeman set the tone of the event with his keynote address, calling on the participants to get involved in the policy making arena.
"Your ideas are terrific, your knowledge superb. But let the world know about it," said Freeman. "We're just too damn polite. We need to open our mouths and shout because nobody is listening."
As part of the event AWE technical advisors John Koeller of Koeller and Co., and Bill Gauley of Veritec Consulting gave the presentation "2010's Top-5 New and Innovative Water Efficient Products."  Their list included:

#5 High-Efficiency Commercial Dishwashers

#4 Waterless Woks

#3 Hot Water Demand System (after-market)

#2 - After-market Dual-flush Retrofit Conversion Device

#1 - 0.8gal/3.0L Residential Toilets

Learn more about Koeller and Gauley’s top five innovative water efficient products here.

AWE’s Christiansen Blogs His Way Through China

China-doorAWE staff member Bill Christiansen is spending part of June in China on a water resources fellowship program for young professionals.  As one of 12 representatives chosen from throughout the United States, Christiansen is participating in a program called Water Here, Water There International Fellows (AKA the What If program).  Conducted by the Association for International Practical Training (AIPT) the program offers cultural exchange with your water resources professionals from China and US in the hopes of improving cooperation in the future.  The fellowship costs are fully paid by a scholarship from the State Department.

Bill’s daily blog about his trip, which includes excellent photos, is part travelogue and part primer on water resources in China.  Check it out here. 

Job Opening: Center for Neighborhood Technology in Chicago

The Chicago-based Center for Neighborhood Technology is seeking a Natural Resources Director to develop and implement policies, research projects and innovative programs that achieve the widespread use of natural systems and efficient investment in sustainable green infrastructure to improve community-scale water resource management and to enhance community livability.  To learn more about this opportunity and submit an application, click here.

News Briefs and Web Links

  • Department of Energy Issues Interpretive Rule Defining What Is A “Showerhead” – In late May the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) published a notice in the Federal Register announcing an interpretive rule that sets out the Department’s views on the definition of “showerhead” in 10 CFR 430.2.  Click here to see the full text of the interpretive rule.  The draft interpretive rule represents the Department’s interpretation of its existing regulations, and given that the Department has not previously expressed its views on this definition, they are interested in receiving feedback from the public on the interpretation.
  • Colorado Water Efficiency Grant Program Extended to 2020 – Colorado Governor Bill Ritter has signed into law an extension of the water efficiency grant program administered by the Colorado Water Conservation Board.  The program provides funds to water utilities to assist with preparing water conservation plans and in implementing conservation programs.  Learn more here.
  • Economist Special Water Report - The Economist magazine issued a special report on water at the end of May that summarizes many of the key water challenges facing the globe in 2010.  Conservation and efficiency figure prominently.  Download a PDF of the special report here.  
  • IEEE Special Report: Water vs. Energy - A new web-based special report from IEEE, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, tackles the water and energy nexus with detailed information, photos, graphics, and thought provoking articles from a wide variety of authors. Check it out here. 
  • Colorado Mountain Communities Push for Urban Conservation - Water managers from Colorado’s Western Slope prefer not to pump any additional water to rapidly growing Front Range urban communities and they expressed these views at recent state-sponsored roundtable discussions.   “The Front Range has growing pains, but those who give up water have the pain of amputation,” said George Sibley, a Gunnison writer who for years ran the Western Water Forum at Western State College.  Learn more here. 
  • LDS Church Opposes Las Vegas Pipeline Plan - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is among hundreds who filed protests with the state of Nevada over a proposal to pump and pipe groundwater from the Snake Valley and surrounding areas to Las Vegas.   The church protests cover wells proposed for Spring Valley, where it operates the Cleveland and Rogers ranches and three associated grazing permits.  The protests are no surprise to the Southern Nevada Water Authority, which seeks to drill the wells and build the pipeline. Spokesman J.C. Davis said anyone who wants standing before the Nevada engineer, who allocates water rights, would need to protest.  Learn more here. 
  • Comments on Draft WaterSense Weather-Based Controller Specification Made Public - WaterSense has posted the stakeholder comments received on the Draft Specification for Weather-Based Irrigation Controllers along with the public meeting summary and presentation. Based on the volume and complexity of the comments received, WaterSense believes it will be necessary to issue a second draft of the specification. The most likely timeframe for this draft is fall 2010. To view the comments, click here. 
  • Southern Cal Conservation Rebate Program Re-Launched - The SoCal Water$mart rebate program for residential water customers and the Save A Buck rebate program for commercial water customers re-launched for fiscal year 2010/11 on June 1. Check out bewaterwise.com to learn about program changes available rebates. Eligible products include rotating sprinkler nozzles, WaterSense toilets, high-efficiency clothes washers and smart sprinkler controllers. 
  • MWD Launches New Media Campaign - Metropolitan  Water District of Southern California’s new educational advertising campaign, "50 Percent Less," began May 17. The ads focus on water supply shortages caused by pumping restrictions in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the need to restore the Delta’s ecosystem and modernize the water delivery system. The campaign also emphasizes the ongoing need to practice long-term conservation. The ads run through June on television and on-line and also on radio in English, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese, Vietnamese and Korean.
  • Dutch Find Quality Issues with Harvested Rainwater - Harvested rain water fails to comply with Dutch drinking water legislation, according to a study published in the Journal of Water and Health. Researchers looked at microbial contamination of harvested rainwater and discovered factors including storage, roof and environmental conditions contribute to water quality issues.  Learn more here. 
  • German Integrated Water Management Event Slated for November - Integrated water resource management (IWRM) Karlsruhe will be held on November 24 and 25 in the Karlsruhe Convention Center, Germany.  Learn more here. 
  • Environmental Groups Divided Over California Water Bond Initiative - The New York Times reports that California environmental groups are split over whether to support an $11 billion water bond on the November ballot, setting up a family feud between activists who usually stand shoulder-to-shoulder on these issues.  Groups supporting the bond initiative include the Nature Conservancy, Audubon California and the Natural Heritage Institute.  Those lining up against the bond include the Sierra Club California, the Planning and Conservation League, Friends of the River and Clean Water Action.  Learn more here. 
  • USDA Calculators Estimate Irrigation Needs - The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service has released two new calculators that estimate crop yield and irrigation needs. Targeted at farmers in semi-arid regions, these resources calculate yield for non-irrigated crops, as well as how much water is needed to achieve target results.  Farmers input target yield, chosen crop, location, and estimates of expected precipitation and available soil water. The calculators cover 18 crops, including cereal grains, seed legumes, oilseeds and forages, and provide multiplication factors for various soil types. A separate calculator determines water required to produce ethanol from corn.  For more information or to download the calculators go to www.ars.usda.gov/services
  • Bacteria Levels in Some Canadian Bottled Water Causes Alarm - Montreal researchers who recently conducted tests of bottled water were surprised and alarmed by high levels of heterotrophic bacteria found in some brands, but they refused to name names.  "Heterotrophic bacteria counts in some of the bottles were found to be in revolting figures of (100) times more than the permitted limit," said Sonish Azam, a researcher on the study, in a news release.  Bacteria counts in several brands of bottled water, where water quality is unregulated, exceeded mandatory limits imposed for tap water.  Learn more here. 
  • Water and Behavior Change e-Bulletin - The Water and Behavior Change e-Bulletin is an outstanding electronic summary of research and information on education and social marketing related to water and conservation.  A product of Waterwise, UK, the e-bulletin is one of the best sources for summaries of high quality international research and is a frequent source of news and information found in Water Efficiency Watch.  Waterwise is a UK non-profit focused on decreasing water consumption and building the evidence base for large-scale water efficiency in the UK. 
  • Bay-Friendly Landscape Conference - The Bay-Friendly Landscaping & Gardening Coalition is hosting the Bay-Friendly Landscape Conference on September 17, 2010 at the St. Mary's Event Center, San Francisco, CA. The conference titled “Transforming Urban Landscapes to Protect Our Water Resources” will feature interactive sessions, professional networking, and a marketplace of cutting-edge technologies and products. Click here to learn more and to register. 
  • Denver Water Announces Updates to “Use Only What You Need” Campaign - Denver Water has launched the 2010 edition of its award winning Use Only What You Need water efficiency social marketing campaign.  The innovative campaign which has included a person in a toilet costume being tackled during a football halftime (e.g. “Stop running toilets”), now encourages regular irrigation system adjustments with “a man’s time of the month” message.  Check out the latest from the nation’s edgiest water conservation campaign here.  
  • Water Supply Outlook in  Melbourne, Australia Improves - According to Melbourne Water, the city's storages have entered winter at their highest levels since 2006, a four year high of 32.7%, thanks to a boost from major water projects such as the Sugarloaf Pipeline and reconnection of Tarago Reservoir, continued water saving and good autumn rain. 

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.

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.