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.  Please like and follow AWE on Facebook and Twitter.

In this issue of Water Efficiency Watch...

Conference Review:  2011 WaterSmart Innovation Conference A Smashing Success

Mary_Ann_Dickinson_1Now entering its 4th year as the leading water efficiency conference in the US, in October Water Smart Innovations 2011 brought together nearly 900 water professionals from utilities and industry in nine nations to share information and network in Las Vegas, Nevada.   The Southern Nevada Water Authority puts on this event every year lead by their Conservation Manager, the multi-talented Doug Bennett.

In spite of budget cutbacks, attendance this year was strong and seats in the technical sessions were often hard to find if you arrived late.  The SNWA staff did a fine job moderating the technical sessions and keeping the entire event running smoothly.  If you couldn’t make it to Las Vegas or you missed a great session, you can download PDFs of all WSI presentations for free here. The exhibit hall was smaller than last year, but those who did exhibit had lots of people traffic as the organizers held regular drawings for laptops and other prizes in the hall. 

The Alliance for Water Efficiency has played an important role in the success of Water Smart Innovations by holding member meetings the day before the conference starts and by organizing the annual WaterSense awards banquet which this year featured an outstanding performance by American Idol winner Ruben Studdard.

AWE Names Bill Maddaus 2011’s Water Star

Bill_Maddaus_Water_StarAt the WaterSense Partner of Year Awards banquet, water conservation planning guru Bill Maddaus was presented the 2011 Alliance for Water Efficiency Water Star award. For more than 40 years Bill has worked tirelessly to improve water management and to ensure water conservation is properly included in urban water management plans.

AWE presents the Water Star award annually to a person who has made significant contributions to the field of water efficiency and conservation. Past winners include John Flowers of EPA (2009) -- a key founder of the WaterSense program -- and George Kunkel of the Philadelphia Water Department (2010) -- a leader in utility water loss management.

 WaterSense Partners of the Year

The WaterSense program’s 5th anniversary was celebrated at the banquet as EPA handed out WaterSense Partner of the Year awards to individuals and organizations that have provided outstanding support to the program over the year.

The 2011 WaterSense Partners of the Year are:

WaterSense Excellence Awards were presented to the following organizations for noteworthy strides in the following areas:

  • For Excellence in WaterSense Labeled Product Promotions - American Water
  • For Excellence in Strategic Collaboration - Public Service Commission of Wisconsin and Lowe’s Companies, Inc.
  • For Excellence in Education and Outreach - City of Dallas Water Utilities
  • Excellence Award for Participation and Collaboration in Promotional Events - Kohler Co., Moen Incorporated, and Niagara Conservation Corp

Learn more about the WaterSense awards and the 2011 winners here.

Ruben Studdard in the House

Ruben_Studdard_6-bestRuben Stoddard and his band of crack musicians gave a wonderful performance to top off the AWE/WaterSense banquet.  Drawing on material from Motown, classic R&B, and modern soul, Studdard’s remarkable voice and charming personality enthralled the crowd and the sold out event.  It was indeed a special evening.

Plans for WSI 2012

Plans for Water Smart Innovations 2012 are already underway and it is anticipated that the affordable South Point Hotel will remain the venue.  Be sure to block off October 2 – 5, 2012 on your calendar.

Georgia Utilities Begin Water Loss Audits Ahead of Legislative Mandate

GeorgiaGeorgia water providers are moving to adopt water loss auditing methods ahead of the 2012 mandatory implementation date specified in the Georgia Water Stewardship Act (GWSA), passed in 2010.

The GWSA is a law designed to reduce the need for more water by promoting more efficient use of what is already available.  Under the law, 250 larger water producers must perform detailed system water audits.

“We’re not required to do the audit until next year, but we did it this year as a proactive run,” said Margaret Doss of the Columbia County Water Utility, whose staff traced the 5.294 billion gallons of treated water pumped into the system during 2010.   The amount for which revenue was received was just 4.742 billion gallons.

In Augusta, which has a larger and older water distribution system, the volume of unmetered water in 2010 was about 15 percent, or 2.1 billion gallons, Utilities Director Tom Wiedmeier said. The city’s two treatment plants produced 14 billion gallons, of which 11.9 billion were metered. 

Learn more about compliance efforts here. Download the Georgia water efficiency legislation here.

ICC Tries for ANSI Standard for Landscape Irrigation Sprinklers

Landscape_sprinkler_bklit_iStock_000013569461XSmallThe International Code Council will try and develop the first ANSI consensus standard for landscape irrigation sprinklers.  At the first meeting of the Landscape Irrigation Emission Device Standard Committee, or IS-IEDC, a diverse group of academics, manufacturers, material providers, water utilities, inspectors, installers, system designers and water efficiency experts were on hand to kick off the effort.

The group plans to develop a new standard, ICC-802 Landscape Irrigation Emission Devices, which will provide minimum requirements for product performance, design, durability and safety, along with standardized test methods for a wide range of landscape irrigation emission devices, such as sprinklers, sprays, rotors, bubblers, and micro-irrigation sprays and emitters.

Committee Chair Timothy Malooly was winner of the 2008 U.S. EPA WaterSense Irrigation Partner of the Year.
“Setting product standards is an important step in codifying the excellent work done to date by the industry’s manufacturers, while establishing a pathway for more innovation,” Malooly said. “This standard can only address sprinkler products themselves, but will hopefully help to set a solid foundation for future efforts to address system design and installation practices. I look forward to an effort where all stakeholders can come together and deliver constructive leadership.”

Brent Mecham, Development Director for the Irrigation Association and a respected irrigation researcher, will serve as committee vice chair. 

“This is an important step to managing resources wisely,” Mecham said.  Learn more about this effort here.

Smart Irrigation Controllers Perform Inconsistently: Texas A&M Researchers

Smart irrigation controllers had a hard time tracking diverse weather conditions in Texas in 2010 according to recently published research from Texas A&M University.

Although the researchers reported better results in 2010 than in 2008 or 2009, several smart controllers applied excessive water while others did not provide enough water for the landscape.   None of the controller studies “were consistently able (across all 6 stations) to adequately meet the plant water requirements throughout the entire season,” the research report states.

The researchers found inconsistency in performance by all 8 controller models studied, with three controllers irrigating excessive volumes and four controllers irrigating inadequate volumes.

The researchers noted that controllers with an on-site tipping bucket rain gauge consistently performed the best in 2010, but even these models had some problems.

Learn more about the Texas A&M smart irrigation control research and download complete research reports here.

In other smart controller news, Calabasas, California has received a $630,000 state grant to convert city-owned irrigation systems to use recycled water and to upgrade the city’s irrigation to smart water controllers.  Officials expect the move will reduce the city’s water use by 25% and will save $25,000 a year in water bills.

Ninth Annual Green Energy Summit and Exposition Set for March 2010

The ninth annual Green Energy Summit and Exposition will take place March 7-10, 2012 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Green Energy Summit recognizes unprecedented opportunities and encourages investment and development in the green sector.  The water-energy nexus is a key topic area for this event.   Abstract submissions are due November 1, 2011.  General conference information is available here. Information on submitting an abstract can be found here.

Barnett Calls for National Water Ethic in Blue Revolution

Blue-Revolution-BarnettIn her new book, Blue Revolution – Unmaking America’s Water Crisis, award-winning journalist Cynthia Barnett argues that the best solution to our water problem is also the simplest and least expensive: a water ethic for America. Since this was one of the founding principles of the Alliance for Water Efficiency, it’s hard to disagree.

In her book, released in September, Barnett argues that just as the green movement helped build awareness about energy and sustainability, so a blue movement can reconnect Americans to their water, helping us value and conserve our most life-giving resource.   Barnett writes that this blue revolution can help us avoid past mistakes and live within our water means by turning to "local water" as we do local foods.

In Blue Revolution , Barnett tries to move beyond the water blame game by stating that the water crisis-driven not as much by lawn sprinklers as by a tradition that has encouraged everyone, from homeowners to farmers to utilities, to tap more and more.

As she travels to water stressed parts of the globe, Barnett shows how people, businesses, and governments have come together to dramatically reduce water use and reverse the water crisis. For examples she points to metro areas, such as San Antonio, Texas, that have halved per capita water use. Barnett notes that Singapore's "closed water loop" recycles every drop while new technologies can reduce agricultural irrigation.

Learn more about Blue Revolution here.

Water Loss “Compiler” Released

The AWWA Water Loss Control Committee recently released a water audit "Compiler" tool that allows water audit data from multiple water audit worksheets to be quickly and easily assembled into a single "compiled" spreadsheet.  The Compiler also includes capabilities to present the assembled data in a variety of graphs.  The Committee has also posted the first North American dataset of validated water utility water audit data.  Data from 21 water utilities across North America was assembled and verified with utility personnel.  The data exists in the format of the Compiler.  Both the Compiler and the dataset are available for free download here

Water Table Drops in Midwest Cause for Concern

KansasWhat do groundwater tables in Wichita, Kansas and Batavia, Illinois have in common?   They’re both dropping and causing significant concern among water officials and the public.

In Wichita, the drop in the water table on the east side of town is unprecedented, according to local well drillers.   "On the east side it's going dry," said Curtis Weninger, driller. "The static water level was 40 feet, now it's 80 or 90 feet."

Wichita is in an extreme drought because of the hot dry summer. The area is more than 10 and a half inches shy of precipitation.   Without adequate groundwater, some people have no choice but to foot the bill and hook up to city water.   Learn more about the Wichita situation here.

IllinoisIn Batavia, Illinois and other towns near Chicago the water table has been dropping as population and demand for water has increased.  When Batavia closed a major well in 2007, the water level there had dropped to about 400 feet below the surface.  Another Batavia well has dropped 200 feet since it was drilled in 1979.

To cope with the situation, 80 towns in the area as well as the counties of Kane, Kendall, DeKalb, Lake and McHenry formed the Northwest Water Planning Alliance.  The cities involved in the alliance do not get any water allocation from Lake Michigan, and likely never will. That means they get their water supply from the same sources -- largely from a combination of deep and shallow wells, with some alternatives, such as the Fox River as well.  There is certainly a need to work together to assure a sustainable water supply.

The groundwater situation in Batavia and the region in complicated by naturally occurring radium in water taken from deep wells.  Water supply is seldom simple.  Learn more about the Batavia situation here.

Feds Want More Information on Controversial Wyoming-Colorado Pipeline

pipe leak 1A federal notice of deficiency for the Flaming Gorge pipeline project has sparked a new disagreement between environmental opponents and the project’s primary proponent, Aaron Million.  The controversial Flaming Gorge pipeline would pipe water from the Green River and Flaming Gorge Reservoir in western Wyoming to the Denver metropolitan area.

The notice cites two deficiencies in Million’s application:

  • Identifying owners of the reservoirs to be used in the project, which are the Bureau of Reclamation for Flaming Gorge and Lake Hattie in Wyoming.
  • Identifying the location of certain features of the project, including the Wild Horse Canyon pumped storage project, nine natural-gas powered pump stations, and four reservoirs that would be built as part of the project.

“The notice has no impact, actually,” Million said and he characterized the notice as a standard request for more information about the project, a standard procedure in any federal process.

“This is yet another indication that the Flaming Gorge Pipeline is nothing more than an empty promise,” said Stacy Tellinghuisen, senior policy analyst for Western Resource Advocates.  “We are over two years into the process of evaluating the project, yet fundamental questions are still unanswered.”

Learn more about the federal notice of deficiency here.   WEW will continue to monitor and report on this project.

IAPMO, PMI sign MoU to Cooperate on Education and Advocacy

IAPMO-logo PMI-logoAs they saying goes, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.  The International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) and Plumbing Manufacturers International (PMI) have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that lays out an area where the two organizations can work together.   In the future, IAPMO and PMI hope to work together to advance and promote education, training and advocacy.

In the MoU, IAPMO and PMI pledged to cooperate in the following areas:

  • Promote new and existing sustainability opportunities and services collaboratively.
  • Aid best practices in the plumbing industry.
  • Legislative and regulatory advocacy.
  • Expand existing educational content, promote effective delivery of continuing education programs, and develop new courses.
  • Investigate the feasibility of jointly produced educational conferences.

Australian Utilities Slowly Ease Restrictions in Wake of Drought

droughtCitizens of Australia’s Central Coast have been carefully minding their water use for nearly 10 years, but the drought that has stricken the area has broken and water storage levels are returning to normal levels.  In October, the Gosford/Wyong Councils' Water Authority Board recommended easing water restrictions across the Central Coast to Level 2, effective on Nov. 14.

The Level 2 restrictions mean residents will be able to water their garden with a trigger nozzle hose for an hour a day three times a week, compared to two days on current restrictions. External building surfaces and outdoor furniture can be washed; however, hosing of paths and driveways is still not permitted.

Water restrictions have been in place on the Central Coast since February 2002, with the current Level 3 water restrictions in place since June, 2009. At the time, a survey conducted by both Councils showed 67 percent of residents supported tougher restrictions as a water saving measure.   Read more here.

Post-Earthquake, a Water Crisis Looms in Christchurch, NZ

Earthquakes have badly damaged water supply system in Christchurch, New Zealand and the Christchurch City Council is worried it will not be able to cope with high summer demand.  It has already imposed restrictions on when people can irrigate but is warning a total outdoor watering ban could yet be needed.

"The damage to our water infrastructure is serious," said Christchurch City Council water and waste manager Mark Christison. "There are breaks to pipes in our reticulation network.”

"Our water storage facilities, including four large reservoirs, have been severely damaged and, of the 174 deep wells that supply water into the city's reticulation system, 20 wells need to be re-drilled, 55 have been repaired to date and 27 are in need of repair,” Christison said.

The cost of repairing the wells alone was estimated at $17 million.

The irrigation restrictions currently in place mean that no outdoor water use is permitted on Mondays and property owners in even-numbered properties can only water their gardens on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.   Learn more here.

New Water Use and Efficiency Research from Australia

Queensland Rainwater tank3Australia has emerged as a leader in water use measurement and analysis as well as water efficiency.  Dr. Rodney Stewart of Griffith University and his team recently released some useful new research and kindly shared with Water Efficiency Watch.  Keep up the good work mate!

UK WaterWise Revives Newsletter On-Line 

waterwise logoWaterWise in the United Kingdom has revived their newsletter and re-started publication on-line.  WaterWise is a British non-profit organization that receives funding from the UK water industry and from sponsorship and consultancy work.

The original WaterWise newsletter, a key inspiration for Water Efficiency Watch, stopped publication about a year ago.  The launch of the revived newsletter coincides with the launch of an updated UK WaterWise website.

Check out the October edition of the WaterWise newsletter here.

Remembrance: Scott Varner, 1942-2011

scottvarnerScott Varner, xeriscape pioneer and former executive director of the Xeriscape Council of New Mexico, passed away on September 10, 2011 after a courageous battle with cancer.  He was 69.

Scott Varner was a major figure in water conservation movement, an activist for xeriscaping and water conservation, as well as for HOA and other rights issues.  His passing touched many water professionals and the Xeriscape Council of New Mexico published the following memories on their web site:

“Scott was warm, quick-witted, and direct--focused sharply on the realization of practical goals that would have meaningful impacts.” - Amy Vickers, author of the Handbook of Water Use and Conservation and past AWE Board Member.

“Scott left us a legacy of goodness…a permanent and positive impact on people and the environment. Even as Scott was telling me goodbye, he wanted assurance that his “knowledge garden” wouldn’t go untended…Together we’ll keep sowing seeds in more places. I assured him we would.” - Doug Bennett, Conservation Manager, Southern Nevada Water Authority.

“Scott was a quiet giant in our world of water conservation…With kindness, humor, grace and incredible dedication he profoundly advanced the cause to which many of us have devoted our lives. My gratitude to Scott runs deep and wide. And as he would wish, I pledge to carry on with the hard work ahead.”- Sandra Postel, author of Rivers for Life.


News Briefs and Web Links

  • Legislative Committee Flushes Colorado HET Proposal for Now – The Water Resources Review Committee of the Colorado Legislature rejected a bill that would have mandated the sale of only high-efficiency toilets in Colorado by 2014.  The vote fell along party lines with Democrats in support and Republicans in opposition.  Bill sponsors are not giving up and hope to reintroduce the bill as soon as feasible.  Read more here.
  • WaterSense Releases Product Certification 2.0 - EPA has released the WaterSense Product Certification System, Version 2.0. EPA revised the product certification system to accommodate future growth and expansion of the WaterSense program while balancing the cost of certification with the program need to maintain the integrity of the WaterSense label.  Get more info here.
  • WSI Presentations Available for Free Download – In case you couldn’t make it to Las Vegas or you missed a session you really wanted to see, technical presentations from WaterSmart Innovations 2011 are available for free download here.
  • Water efficiency can be sexy and hilarious as well as poignant and powerful - The 2011 Intelligent Use of Water film competition winners offer amazing and different visions of water conservation. "Fun and Games" and "Just Don't Flush It" will make you LOL.  Check out the  IUOW Film Competition winners here.  
  • SFWMD Publishes CII Self-Audit Guide – Non-residential water users have a new water efficiency tool.  The South Florida Water Management District has published - A Water Efficiency Improvement Self-Assessment Guide for Commercial and Institutional Building Facility Managers.  This is a PDF available for free download.
  • ACEEE Releases Study on Emerging Hot Water Technologies and Practices - ACEEE examined sixteen technologies and practices, and found that these technologies can save a cumulative 2.3 quadrillion Btu through 2025, or about 5% of projected demand in residential and commercial buildings in the year 2025 (43 quads).  Learn more and download the report here.
  • Chicago Plans to Update Water InfrastructureChicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Dept. of Water Management Commissioner Tom Powers emphasized the importance of investing in the city's water infrastructure at an October event.   Learn more here.
  • San Antonio Gets Rain, but Drought Conditions Persist - Rain finally fell in San Antonio, Texas, but it wasn’t enough to offset the city’s current water restrictions. The Edward’s Aquifer, San Antonio’s main water supply, added nearly eight feet after a rainy week, bringing the water level to 651.9 feet.  Drought conditions across Texas and Oklahoma have forced residents to bear drought restrictions for much of the year.
  • University of Michigan Upgrades Irrigation System for Big Savings - Installation of a water-conserving irrigation system has helped the University of Michigan reduce the amount of water used on irrigation by 68 percent according to reports.  Learn more here.
  • AWWA Launches Conservation Community – Check out the latest conservation offering from AWWA here.
  • FedCenter Climate Change Adaptation Web Page – This page offers an excellent compendium of climate change information and research.
  • GreenGov Conference Set for Nov. 30 – Dec. 1, 2011 - The Center for Environmental Innovation and Leadership's 2011 GOVgreen Conference and Expo will take place on November 30th and December 1st in Washington, DC.  Topics of the conference include water efficiency and the water-energy nexus. Learn more and get info on registration here.
  • 2011 Federal Energy and Water Management Award Winners - The Federal Energy and Water Management Awards recognize individuals, groups, and agencies for their outstanding contributions in the areas of energy efficiency, water conservation, and the use of advanced and renewable energy technologies at federal facilities.  Learn about the 2011 award winners here.
  • California College Students Compete for Water Savings – Which dorm can use the least water?  This could be better than reality TV.  Check it out 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.

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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.