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...

Veronica Blette Wins 2016 AWE Water Star Award 

Water Star Award Veronica BletteVeronica Blette, head of the EPA WaterSense Program, is the winner of the prestigious 2016 AWE Water Star Award.  The award was announced at the 2016 Water Smart Innovations Conference in Las Vegas. 

The Alliance for Water Efficiency’s Water Star Award recognizes individual excellence in water efficiency. It celebrates the “unsung hero,” the water conservation practitioner working in the trenches who makes a huge difference by their personal passion for water conservation, a quiet dedication to obtaining those needed reductions in water use, and persistence in the face of numerous obstacles and challenges.

Veronica Blette was the perfect choice to lead the important new fledgling labeling program called WaterSense®. She had clear program experience at EPA, and knew how to grow a startup program in the face of numerous government obstacles. Under her quiet but persistent leadership EPA has made substantial achievements:

  • Created a robust WaterSense Partner Network; more than 1,800 organizations, manufacturers, and retailers have signed on.
  • Developed a certification system with Stephanie Tanner that would provide for independent certification of products in order to earn the label, a system designed so well that ENERGY STAR chose to emulate it in 2010 when they made changes in their program to move to a more formal third-party certification system.
  • Launched a comprehensive social media program and the “We’re for Water” tour -- a national outreach campaign to encourage consumers to save water.
  • Created a BMP Guide that covered 36 BMPs in the commercial and institutional sector and launched the H2Otel Challenge.
  • Launched a webinar series with partners such as HUD, Energy Star, and AWE.
  • Added a number of campaigns, such as Fix a Leak Week, Shower Better, the outdoor Sprinkler Spruce Up, and the When in Drought campaigns.
  • Launched a directory of more than 2,800 certified landscape professionals to allow users to seek available people within their area.

But the true impact of WaterSense over these two years is in the savings achieved and the products labeled. Highlights of what has happened under her watch:

  • 16,110 products labeled – a staggering amount.  This includes:
    • 2,458 toilets
    • 9,359 faucets
    • 3,697 showerheads
    • 367 flushing urinals
    • 204 weather-based irrigation controllers
    • 25 pre-rinse spray valves
  • 1.5 trillion gallons of water saved to date. That’s more than the entire amount of water used by all households in California for a year!
  • 212 billion KWh, enough power to supply 19.4 million homes for a year
  • 78 million metric tons of GHG, the equivalent of planting 2 billion trees
  • $32.6 billion in savings on consumer water and energy bills

In this 10th landmark anniversary of the WaterSense program, the Alliance for Water Efficiency is very proud to award its 2016 Water Star award to Veronica Blette.

Updated Conservation Tracking Tool Released 

Tracking Tool V3 Start PageAWE has released its much anticipated Version 3.0 of the Water Conservation Tracking Tool.  The Tracking Tool is an Excel-based model that can be used evaluate the water savings, costs, and benefits of conservation programs. The Tracking Tool is available free of charge to AWE members. 

The Tracking Tool can evaluate the water savings, costs, and benefits of conservation programs for a specific water utility, using either English or Metric units. Using information entered into the Tracking Tool from the utility’s system, it provides a standardized methodology for water savings and benefit-cost accounting, and includes a library of pre-defined conservation activities from which users can build conservation programs.

Water utility managers can use the Tracking Tool in a variety of ways to aid their water resource planning operations:  

  • Develop long-range conservation plans. Construct conservation portfolios containing up to 50 separate conservation program activities. 
  • Quickly compare alternative conservation measures in terms of their water savings potential, impact on system costs, and potential benefits to utility customers.   
  • Track the implementation, water savings, costs, and benefits of actual conservation activities over time. 
  • Evaluate a utility’s changing revenue requirement with conservation. 
  • Estimate the reduction in energy and GHG emissions resulting from both plumbing and energy codes and water conservation program activity. 

The Tracking Tool counts the savings achieved from national fixture and appliance standards. Due to differing standards among states, users can select from five options depending on their location: California, Colorado, Georgia, Texas, and all other states. 

Water Efficiency TV: AWE YouTube Channel  

The AWE YouTube channel features more than 30 videos on the value of water, financing sustainable water, and the Alliance for Water Efficiency itself.  From managing drought to managing cooling towers, you can learn about it from the AWE YouTube channel. 

Member Highlight:  Arizona Municipal Water Users Association and AWE Promote Building Better Water Rates in Arizona 

FSW-AZ-workshop-smallDesigning, adopting and implementing effective rates – that both meet revenue needs AND encourage efficient use – is one of the most challenging tasks water managers face today. They must consider changing weather patterns, declining demand, and other more unpredictable forces that may impact revenue and water availability.  In Arizona, uncertainty related to economic drivers and supply availability from the Colorado River add to the complexity of designing rates that balance fiscal health, secure resources and affordability.

That’s why, on September 20, the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association and AWE hosted a day-long workshop on this topic in Mesa for nearly 100 water professionals and decision-makers from around the state. The event brought together city managers, utility directors, resource management staff, finance staff, and city council board members to learn about available resources and exchange in discussions about challenges and solutions.

The workshop featured resources from AWE’s Financing Sustainable Water initiative, which provides a free Sales Forecasting and Rate Model that can help manage some of this uncertainty, a Handbook with guidance on balancing competing objectives, and messages for stakeholders. Attendees also learned about a local Tucson area water provider’s experience revising their rate structure for resiliency, and heard directly from elected officials about the challenges they face in approving rate changes.

FSW---PHOENIX-v1“Well-crafted rate structures provide revenue stability for the utility, ensure water flows reliably and safely, and encourage the efficient use of water, while still being affordable for the customer.  That’s not an easy balancing act.” – Warren Tenney, AMWUA President  

AMWUA is a non-profit corporation governed by a Board of Directors composed of mayors and council members representing its ten member cities and towns. For nearly half a century, AMWUA has worked to protect their members' ability to provide assured, safe and sustainable water supplies to their communities. AMWUA’s assistant director serves on the Alliance’s Board of Directors.

Learn more in this blog post from AMWUA’s Executive Director Warren Tenney.

AWE is available to help organize and host similar workshops. Contact Megan Chery. 

AWE Program Manager, Bill Christiansen, Steps Down 

Bill Pic 1Bill Christiansen, an outstanding AWE staff member since 2007, is leaving to seek new opportunities.  Bill will be greatly missed by the AWE staff and everyone associated with the organization.  Water Efficiency Watch obtained this exclusive interview which we bring to you as a fond farewell.

  1. When did you start and why did you choose to work for AWE? 

I started working for AWE way back in October of 2007.  I can’t believe that much time has passed!  I wanted to work for AWE because of its mission.  I wanted to contribute to the water conservation and efficiency movement.  I was also drawn to AWE because of Mary Ann Dickinson and the esteemed AWE Board of Directors.

  1. What are some of your favorite parts of working for AWE?

My favorite part of being an AWE employee was working with AWE members. There are so many amazing people dedicated to promoting water conservation and efficiency.  The staff at AWE are incredibly motivated and fun to work with as well.  My favorite things to work with members on were the AWE Water Conservation Tracking Tool and the AWE Sales Forecasting and Rate Model .  These resources are fun to use and help make informed planning decisions.

  1. What do you see as the top three issues in water efficiency today?

Bill Pic 2This is a tough question because there are so many issues to choose from.  My top three right now are:

  • Outdoor Water Use
  • CII Water Use
  • Customer Access to Consumption Data/Communication

When I think of top issues in water efficiency today (and in the future) I see a lot of potential for water savings.  I think the industry will continue to make efficiency improvements related to outdoor water use and nonresidential water use, and we will see more customers gain access to real time water use data.  AWE’s outdoor research savings initiative will produce important information that will help improve the management of outdoor water use.  Connecting customers to usage data will help them make better choices about their consumption.  Water utilities are continually improving communication with customers and I believe that trend will continue.  Resources like AWE’s Water What You Pay For video help make that connection and inform customers.

As you can see, I am still a big fan of AWE.   

  1. What are you going to do next?

I am going to stay involved in water conservation and efficiency through my new consulting business (and soon to be AWE member) Water Forever. 

  1. How can people stay in touch?

I would love to stay in touch with all the great people I have worked with through the years.  My LinkedIn profile is updated with my new contact information.

From the editor: Bon voyage Bill Christiansen.  Thanks for all of the hard work and energy you brought to AWE.  We wish you all the best in the future.

Wastewater to Beer Project Wins Arizona Water Challenge 

Arizona_PrizePima County’s Southwest Water Campus is the winner of the New Arizona Prize: Water Innovation Challenge and that means the work is just beginning. These creative water professionals intend to increase the public’s acceptance of reclaimed water – aka direct potable reuse – for drinking, in this particular case for drinking beer.

The Pima County team will create a traveling treatment plant – imagine a tractor-trailer –to tour the State to show how today’s technology produces the highest standard drinking water from reclaimed wastewater. The project’s water pros will then challenge local brewers to craft the best beer in the State with that direct potable reuse water.

Through the magic of beer, it is hoped people can become more comfortable with the idea of direct potable reuse for human consumption. As an important water source of the future, increasing public confidence is a worthy goal.

AWE Outdoor Water Savings Research Projects Move Forward 

Outdoor Water Savings LogoAWE’s Outdoor Water Saving Research Initiative is moving forward with two key projects to be conducted in 2017 and 2018. 

  • Project 1: Reducing the Requirement – Landscape Transformation Reasons, Rationale, and Water Savings – Awarded to A&N Technical Services Team 

A research team from A&N Technical Services led by Dr. Tom Chesnutt was selected to conduct this research project.  The goal is to conduct new empirical research on landscape transformation projects such as turf removal and replacement, “cash for grass”, Xeriscape and water wise re-landscaping, and utility-sponsored efforts to promote and incentivize reductions in the landscape water requirement. The research will focus on what motivates landscape and irrigation changes and what changes in water use occurred and therefore can be expected.

Eleven water suppliers and in the U.S. and Canada have volunteered to assist with this study and provide both a cash contribution to the budget and information, data, and assistance with local research.

  • Project 2: Use and Effectiveness of Municipal Irrigation Restrictions during Drought – RFP released in early December. 

This research will compare the drought response approaches implemented by different water providers and the impact and water savings achieved through different measures and levels of implementation. This study will examine the impact of varying levels of mandatory and voluntary watering restrictions as well and different messaging and information. The final report will discuss which measures and messaging provide the most significant drought water demand reductions.

Twelve water providers, wholesalers, and water organizations in the U.S. have volunteered to assist with this study and provide both a cash contribution to the budget and information, data, and assistance with local research.

The Request for Proposals for this project was released in early December.  All qualified researchers are invited to submit a proposal.  The due date for the proposals is January 20, 2017.

  • Project 3: Peak Day Water Demand Reduction Study 

A pilot research project to “prove the concept” of water demand peak reduction through remote control of irrigation systems is being conducted by WaterDM and AWE in association with American Water and Rachio to determine the viability of  peak shaving through internet connected irrigation controllers as an option for water utilities and to gain insight into implementation methods and barriers.

Results from this pilot project will be available in early 2017.

Water Research Foundation Appoints John Albert as Chief Research Officer

John Albert - WRFThe Water Research Foundation (WRF), a leading sponsor of research supporting the water community, has appointed John Albert as Chief Research Officer. Albert will contribute to the strategic direction of WRF as part of the Senior Management Team and as director of Research Services and Subscriber Services.

"We are excited that John has accepted the role of Chief Research Officer at the Water Research Foundation,” said Rob Renner, CEO of WRF. “In his 11 years at WRF, John has consistently displayed the knowledge and leadership needed to guide and grow our One Water research and subscription programs.” 

Albert is a 20-year veteran of the water and wastewater industry. Joining the Water Research Foundation in 2005, Albert previously served as Subscriber Services Manager, Regional Liaison, and Research Manager. In the last year, he led the development and launch of WRF’s wastewater subscription program, which has already enlisted almost a dozen wastewater utilities as WRF subscribers. 

 US Bureau of Reclamation Announces 2017 Funding Opportunities 

 The United States Bureau of Reclamation has announced three funding opportunities for fiscal year 2017.  Information on these funding priorities can be found here:

Wither the Water Resources Development Act of 2016? 

There may yet be hope for the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA of 2016). Republicans don’t want to linger in Washington any longer than necessary, but "we hope we can finish WRDA and energy," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in November, referring to separate water infrastructure and energy bills that are stuck in conference negotiations. Lawmakers will, of course, have to also figure out how to fund the government beyond December 9.

McConnell’s comments may give a boost to negotiators who indicated work is progressing slowly on the Water Resources Development Act. Meanwhile, Sen. Barbara Boxer said the odds of reaching agreement were only “50-50.” The key question is how invested the House is. The Senate bill costs twice as much as the House’s version, with those extra dollars largely going to major ecosystem restoration efforts and EPA water programs that fall under the jurisdiction of a separate committee in the House. Those programs are top priorities for Boxer, the top Democrat on EPW, but she’s retiring at the end of this session, and House Republicans may see little harm in pushing negotiations until after she’s gone.

“I’d say the House is pretty much in the driver’s seat at the moment,” said Mike Toohey, president of Waterways Council Inc. “The Senate runs the risk of getting nothing or getting something less than what they want.”

DOE Publishes a Final Rule Pertaining to Test Procedures for Commercial Water Heating Equipment 

DOE LogoThe Department of Energy (DOE) has published a Federal Register final rule pertaining to test procedures for commercial water heating equipment 81 FR 79261 (November 10, 2016).

Find more information on the rulemaking, including statutory authority; current standards and test procedures; waivers, exceptions, and exemptions; and contact information. 

The effective date of this rule is December 12, 2016. The final rule changes will be mandatory for representations related to energy efficiency or energy use starting November 6, 2017. 

All notices, public comments, public meeting transcripts, and supporting documents associated with this rulemaking are included in Docket No. EERE-2014-BT-TP-0008.

WRF and DOE Publish “Nexus” Report 

Energy and water are critical and mutually dependent resources. Research and collaboration between the energy and water sectors will result in reliable, resilient, and sustainable systems that create jobs as well as stimulate energy efficiency, resource recovery, and water conservation to benefit the customers we serve, public health, the economy, and the environment according to a new report from the Water Research Foundation and DOE.

The report notes that the water sector stands ready to reinforce our partnership with U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) through the new administration and explore opportunities for collaboration by sharing the following:

  • Overview of the Energy‐Water Nexus
  • Successful Energy‐Water Programs and Partnerships
  • Policy and Research Gaps in the Energy‐Water Nexus
  • Recommendations and Next Steps

New Survey:  Homeowners Like Conservation Incentives, Will Pay for Water Quality 

Outside HouseRespondents to a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences online survey of 3,000 homeowners in Florida, Texas and California found that reducing the price of water-efficient equipment would be the most effective strategy. That was followed by more practical information on household water conservation, easier identification of water-efficient appliances, and better landscape irrigation ordinances.

Homeowners with irrigation systems would use less water if they were offered more incentives, according to the report. Most will even pay more for better water quality.

Additionally, respondents liked the idea of a real-time water use mobile app and more information on the environmental impacts of water conservation.

"We know that informed homeowners are aware and concerned about the environmental consequences of excessive irrigation water use. However, awareness and concern are necessary, but not sufficient, conditions for resource and water conservation," said Hayk Khachatryan, an assistant professor of food and resource economics and the lead investigator in the survey.

"Efforts in promoting the adoption of water-saving irrigation systems and practices will be more successful when environmental conservation measures are combined with economic incentives such as utility or manufacturer rebates on smart irrigation equipment."

To get better-quality water, 64 percent of survey participants said they're willing to pay higher monthly water bills. Of those, 26 percent said they'd pay less than 5 percent of their current bill; 30 percent would pay 5 percent to 15 percent more and 8 percent were willing to pay more than 15 percent.

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.