Water Efficiency Watch is the online newsletter of the Alliance for Water Efficiency, edited by Peter Mayer.
In this issue of Water Efficiency Watch...
The Alliance for Water Efficiency’s President and CEO, Mary Ann Dickinson, met with Carol Browner in the White House as part of a coalition of 16 organizations asking for recognition of water efficiency alongside energy efficiency in future jobs legislation. During the meeting, the Alliance presented its analysis discussed which estimated the number of potential jobs that could be created as a result of water efficiency programs.
The meeting was arranged in response to a letter, dated December 29, 2009, in which the coalition urged President Obama to propose to Congress the inclusion of plumbing and irrigation efficiency retrofits in legislation to create green jobs and boost the economy. The letter also recommended that any new jobs bill should include federal procurement of WaterSense products for new building and major renovations, and following the White House meeting a draft proposal was submitted by the coalition proposing a national rebate program on WaterSense product retrofits.
Joining AWE in the coalition were American Rivers, American Supply Association, Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) International, First Supply, Irrigation Association, Kohler Co., Mechanical Contractors Association of America, Moen Incorporated, National Apartment Association, National Multi Housing Council, Plumbing Contractors of America, Plumbing Manufacturers Institute, Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors National Association, Real Estate Roundtable, and U.S. Green Building Council. Download the full text of the letter here. Download the national rebate program proposal here. Download the full text of the Alliance’s Jobs Report here.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released its WaterSense Single-Family New Home Specification, creating the first national, voluntary specification for water-efficient new homes.
“Home builders can now partner with EPA and earn the WaterSense label for their newly built homes, helping to create livable communities and quality homes that are easy to maintain,” said Peter S. Silva, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Water. “These homes will save homeowners as much as $200 a year on utility bills compared to their current homes.”
Under the new specification, WaterSense New Homes will feature WaterSense labeled plumbing fixtures, ENERGY STAR® qualified appliances (if installed), water-efficient landscaping, and hot water delivery systems that deliver hot water faster, so homeowners don’t waste water—or energy—waiting at the tap.
By investing in WaterSense labeled homes, it is estimated that American home buyers can reduce their water usage by more than 10,000 gallons per year—enough to fill a backyard swimming pool—and save enough energy annually to power a television for four years.
Designed to complement existing green building programs, WaterSense labeled new homes are projected to be 20 percent more efficient than typical new homes, and must be independently inspected and certified by an EPA licensed certification provider to meet the WaterSense criteria for water efficiency and performance. Download the WaterSense New Home Specification here.
The Water Contingency Task Force set up by Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue reported that the state can't find enough new ways to supply water to Metro Atlanta to meet a three-year deadline imposed last summer by a federal judge. It would take at least eight years and a massive investment to replace the water the area needs if it is forced to stop withdrawing water from Lake Lanier, north of the city, the panel said.
State officials have even begun to question the location of Georgia's border with Tennessee, eyeing the Tennessee River as a possible new source. Before they start a border war we wonder if they have fully considered conservation.
The task force also concluded that Georgia must embrace a series of "no regret" water conservation standards regardless of the outcome of a looming 2012 deadline that could leave Atlanta with a drastically reduced water supply.
The final report from the Governor's Water Contingency Task Force, issued in December, urged state legislators to tie water conservation requirements to state permits, prods utilities to conduct more audits aimed at reducing leaks, and calls on the state to devote more funding to water-efficient rebate programs. The report also nudges utilities to adopt more aggressive conservation pricing schemes, which penalize bigger water users while benefiting the thriftiest. And it calls for every utility to develop a "real water loss" reduction program aimed at sniffing out leaks and repairing them. Read more here.
On Dec. 1, 2009 the US House of Representatives approved H.R. 3598, the Energy and Water Research Integration Act, which directs the Secretary of Energy, in coordination with other relevant federal agencies, to establish the Energy-Water Architecture Council to provide improved energy and water resource data collection, reporting, and the technological innovation.
"Demand for energy and water resources is stressing the environment and our economy. Innovation in technologies which address the nexus between these two resources is critical to the future of our country. This legislation takes important steps to deal with these challenges," said Energy and Environment Subcommittee Vice Chairman Paul Tonko (D-NY), who managed the bills on the floor. For more information, see the Committee's website.
EPA has posted for public comment a draft version of "Control and Mitigation of Drinking Water Losses in Distribution Systems," a guidance document intended to assist small public water systems in control of losses of drinking water in water distribution systems.
This document is part of the Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water's (OGWDW) efforts to support public water system sustainability. This draft guidance document is intended to assist public water systems, states, and primary enforcement agencies under the Safe Drinking Water Act in improving water efficiency and long-term sustainability in small public water systems through control and mitigation of water losses in public water system distribution systems. The draft document provides guidance on:
- Water loss control programs
- Water metering
- Water audits
- Leak detection
- Operation maintenance and preventative measures to control water losses
The document can be viewed or downloaded from the OGWDW home page.
A California Superior Court judge has overturned the 2003 agreement that decided how farms and cities in Southern California share water from the Colorado River. The overturned deal authorized transfers of billions of dollars' worth of irrigation water from the Imperial Valley to San Diego and the Coachella Valley. It also put a timetable in place for the region to stop relying on excess water from the river, which runs along California's border with Arizona. The 2003 agreement ended years of bickering over how to divide the Colorado River between California and Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.
The ruling hinged on budgeting for a state program to restore the Salton Sea, which has seen its water level fall in recent years. Judge Roland Candee ruled that the 2003 agreement violated California's constitutional limits on state debt by providing open-ended funding for the restoration program.
"It's really hard to say what the fix is going to be," said John Schlotterbeck, senior deputy general counsel at the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. Schlotterbeck said that water authorities are still uncertain about the implications of the judge’s ruling.
The South Florida Water Management District Governing Board has unanimously approved year-round water use restrictions that place permanent limits on landscape irrigation throughout the region. The rule limits irrigation of existing landscapes to two days per week, with some exceptions for counties south of Lake Okeechobee. The rules were developed with input from water users collected during 30 public workshops over the past two years. Under the new rule, irrigation is always prohibited between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Irrigation using reclaimed water, rain harvesting systems and various low-volume methods is not subject to restrictions. These exceptions include micro-irrigation, container watering, hand watering with a hose, and automatic shut-off nozzles. The district may also exclude weather-based irrigation technologies from watering restrictions, but has yet to make this decision. To learn more about the SFWMD outdoor use rules visit www.sfwmd.gov/2days.
The rising wholesale cost of water is causing increases in water rates for San Diego residents. The price increase is the sixth jump since 2007 for San Diego ratepayers, who are financing upgrades to the water system on top of buying more expensive water. Typical single-family customers in San Diego will see their 2010 bills rise by about $5 a month, though the exact amount will vary with use.
In November, the San Diego City Council approved a 7.75 percent rate increase for typical single-family homeowners after agreeing with a staff report that said the city had no choice but to recoup the additional money it is spending on water. The study estimated that higher wholesale rates amount to about $30 million more a year citywide.
Increases elsewhere have been staggered over the past several months, and rate increases are expected to continue even as customers are asked to continue conserving water as California’s drought persists into its fourth year.
“There is the sense that there will be another double-digit (jump) next January,” said Jim Barrett, head of the San Diego Water Department and a board member for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the region’s main water wholesaler.
“What it represents is the end of the era of cheap water,” said Timothy Brick, chairman of Metropolitan’s board and AWE board member. Read more here.
(Adapted from the North County Times) Under a proposed ordinance, new and substantially remodeled apartments, condos and other multi-family residential developments in San Diego would be required to have individual water meters. Most occupants of apartments and condos currently are not billed directly for the amount of water they use. Instead, the cost is divided among the occupants and essentially included in the rent for apartments and association fees for condos.
“If occupants see how much water they use, and are billed for it, they'll have an incentive to save water,” said Marti Emerald, a San Diego councilmember. Emerald is backing the effort to require multi-family submetering, to encourage conservation. The ordinance has the support of the San Diego County Apartment Association, a local trade group.
There's also a financial motivation for the apartment owners to conserve: Water rates are increasingly, with double-digit increases the norm over the last few years. “The potential for saving water is substantial,” Emerald said. "Nearly half of the housing in the city of San Diego is multifamily housing, apartments or condos." A 2004 study conducted by Aquacraft found submetering and individual billing reduced averaged consumption by about 15% compared with traditional in-rent arrangements.
"San Diego would become the largest city in California to have a submetering ordinance," Emerald said. "Ours would be the only one that has a trigger for pre-existing buildings. It would be the toughest in the state."
Emerald said the ordinance is expected to go before the Planning Commission in early January, and be ready for the San Diego City Council's consideration by the end of January.
As of January, 2010, city and county government agencies throughout the state of California must adopt California's Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance, or implement an alternative in their communities. AB 1881 includes provisions to minimize landscape irrigation overspray and runoff; to provide a landscape water budget component; provisions for use of automatic irrigation systems and irrigation schedules based on climatic conditions; and for landscape maintenance practices that foster long-term landscape water conservation.
The ordinance applies to “all projects that require permits, plan checks, design reviews and approvals, including public and private development projects and existing properties with landscape areas one acre or greater.”
It only applies to single family residences that are being put in by developers with outside areas larger than 2,500 square feet, or to existing single family homes where the landscaped area is more than 5,000 square feet and undergoing a changeover.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its National Water Research Strategy to engage a broader range of researchers in meeting the challenges of protecting and improving our nation's water resources. The strategy identifies and promotes the research needs of EPA's national water program to potential partners.
The strategy outlines the water program's four research priorities: healthy watersheds and coastal waters, safe drinking water, sustainable water infrastructure and water security. Each priority also focuses on five technical areas: aquatic life health effects, human health effects, method development, occurrence and exposure, and treatment technologies and effectiveness.
The objective of the strategy is to diversify the science the water program uses to develop its regulatory and non-regulatory water management tools and decisions. Expanding the science base will expedite the production of the needed tools and help achieve faster and better-quantified water quality outcomes. For more information visit: http://www.epa.gov/waterscience/strategy
Several large lakes in California and Nevada are warming about twice as quickly as the surrounding air, according to a new NASA study, suggesting that climate change could affect those aquatic environments sooner and with greater impact.
The study, by researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., was based on 18 years of data from satellite sensors. The lakes included in the study were California's Lake Tahoe, Clear Lake, Lake Almanor and Mono Lake, as well as Nevada's Pyramid Lake and Walker Lake.
At Lake Tahoe, the water surface temperature increased 3.7 degrees Fahrenheit between 1992 and 2008. That averages to 0.23 degrees per year, while air temperature increased an average of 0.10 degrees per year over the same period.
Warmer temperatures could be contributing to changes such as larger algae blooms and increases in invasive clam populations, scientists say.
"If it turns out they're actually changing faster than the air temperature, then there's a whole new phenomenon going on here," said lead author Philipp Schneider, a postdoctoral research scientist at the lab. "The lake ecosystems are going to be very much affected, especially because the trend we observed seems to be quite rapid".
Read more here.
A University of Montana study led by respected scientist Steven Running predicts that climate change will significantly extend drought periods in the Northern Rockies, stressing forests and inviting more frequent and virulent wildfires. The study was funded by the National Commission on Energy Policy, a bipartisan nonprofit organization.
The study predicts that global warming will have a dramatic impact on regional forests. Rising temperatures could spark an epidemic of insect infestations and cause catastrophic fires in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho.
Here are a few highlights of the research:
- By about the 2080s, hotter temperatures could cause about two months of additional drought.
- Regional forests will see fewer days with snow on the ground, an earlier peak snowmelt, a longer growing season, and increasing drought stress, which in turn will increase insect infestations and wildfires.
- Carbon uptake could be reduced and so disrupted that “most forests in the region would switch from absorbing carbon to releasing it by late this century.”
- Even if future climate change is less severe than projected, serious impacts are expected. Forests are already being transformed by global warming, Running said, particularly since northern Rocky Mountains forests “live in a perpetually water-limited state.”
- Over this century, the region could see an annual average warming trend of 3.6 to 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit, with winter temperatures expected to increase more than temps in other seasons.
Read more here.
Georgia, Florida, and Alabama - three Southern states negotiating an agreement on use of water from the Lake Lanier reservoir near Atlanta have asked a federal judge t o keep their talks and documents confidential. The three states filed a motion this week with U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson saying secrecy "may encourage the open exchange of information and proposals necessary to address the issues ... and discourage the improper dissemination of the same."
Environmentalists opposed the request for confidentiality, which follows a closed-door meeting last month between the governors of the three states.
"After 20 years, don't we all basically know the facts? Is this confidentiality arrangement really something just to serve as cover for political leaders -- the governors?” said Sally Bethea, executive director of Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, a Georgia-based water protection group. “Bottom line, we think secrecy is not in the best interest of all the people in the three states who rely on these river systems."
If the three states do not reach an agreement by mid-2012, they will be subject to Magnuson's July ruling that only Congress may authorize withdrawals from the reservoir. Florida and Alabama took issue with Atlanta's decades-old practice of drawing drinking water from the reservoir, which was facilitated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power, and Civilization by journalist Steven Solomon reconstructs the history of civilization in order to illuminate the importance of water in human development from the first civilizations of the Fertile Crescent and the Indus River Valley to the present.
Solomon writes that the prosperity of nations and empires is largely based on their access to water and their ability to harness water resources. The story he tells is familiar, but his emphasis on water is unique: he shows how the Nile's flood patterns determined political unity and dynastic collapses in Egypt. He suggests that the construction of China's Grand Canal made possible a sixth-century reunification that eluded the Roman Empire. Finally, he attributes America's rise to superpower status to such 20th-century water innovations as the Panama Canal and Hoover Dam. Solomon surveys the current state of the world's water resources by region, making a compelling case that the U.S. and other leading democracies have untapped strategic advantages that will only become more significant as water becomes scarcer. Read additional comments from author Steven Solomon here.
National security and water experts theorize that water scarcity caused by climate change and overpopulation is likely to spark local armed conflicts over the next century but not necessarily wars between nation states.
A pattern of localized conflict is likely to emerge in sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, India, China, Pakistan and Burma in coming decades, said Peter Gleick, of the Pacific Institute. But it's wrong, he added, to assume these battles would flare into international armed confrontations.
Aaron Wolf, director of a water conflict project at Oregon State University, said cooperation over water is just as likely as armed struggle. More important to Wolf are rapid urbanization and poverty, which could leave billions of people in China and India, for example, destitute and hunting for food and water.
"People cooperate [on water] about two times as much as they conflict," Wolf said. "That's a whole side of the story that rarely gets picked up."
Christine Parthemore, a national security fellow at the Center for a New American Security, said water is one of many economic factors that tend to cause conflict, but rarely has it been a central cause of war between states. Read more here.
(Adapted from the Los Angeles Times) The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) reported that water use in the city was down 18.4% from June through October 2009, the hottest and thirstiest time of the year. As a result, Los Angeles experienced its lowest level of water consumption in the last 18 years even though the City’s population has grown by an estimated 500,000 people.
Los Angeles is using less water than it did a quarter of a century ago, said S. David Freeman, the DWP's interim general manager.
In June, Los Angeles enacted strict watering restrictions that limited irrigation to two days a week with a maximum run time of 15 minutes per zone (or area for manual irrigators). The DWP also reduced the amount of water customers can buy at the cheapest price
The biggest cutback in DWP water usage came from government customers, who lowered usage by 28.8%, followed by single-family customers with a 23.2% reduction, commercial property at 15.2%, multifamily residential at 15.2% and industrial at 2.9%.
Water savings by DWP customers total 17.6 billion gallons over the last five months. Demand has been reduced by 37.7 billion gallons since July 2007, according to the utility. Read more here.
WaterSense Revamps Web Site - The new WaterSense web site has a fresh look, more features, and new content. Check it out and let EPA know what you think.
River Hires Private “Water Cops” - The St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) in Palatka, Florida, has hired a private company to patrol neighborhoods in five of its 18 counties in the hunt for irrigation law breakers. The company’s job is to police water usage to ensure the district's watering rules are enforced. When operatives notice someone violating the rules, they leave a notice at the home. If it happens a second time, a letter is sent reminding the landowner of the district's rules. A SJRWMD spokesman said the district can police water usage anywhere in the district, and can hire private companies to help with citations. To date, 3,000 citations have been issued.
WRI Teams With Business to Evaluate Water Risks - The World Resources Institute (WRI), is teaming with General Electric and Goldman Sachs to measure water-related risks facing companies and their investors. The initiative will develop a standardized Water Index to identify and mitigate water-related corporate risk. The Index will aggregate nearly 20 weighted factors capturing water availability, regulations, water quality and reputational issues. The Index will allow companies and investors to better understand the various components of water-related risk and will enable business leaders to make more well-informed investment decisions. Read more here.
NASA Data Show California Groundwater Loss - New space observations reveal that since October 2003, the aquifers for California's primary agricultural region - the Central Valley - and its major mountain water source - the Sierra Nevada mountains - have lost nearly enough water combined to fill Lake Mead, America's largest reservoir. The findings, based on data from the NASA/German Aerospace Center Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (Grace), reflect California's extended drought and increased rates of groundwater being pumped for human uses, such as irrigation. According to the report, most of the overdraft is occurring in the San Joaquin Valley and it is occurring at a rate far faster than previously reported by the California Department of Water Resources. Read more here.
Uncertainties Remain about Biofuels and Water Resources: GAO Report - The extent to which increased biofuels production will affect the nation's water resources depends on the type of feedstock selected and how and where it is grown according to a new Government Accounting Office (GAO) report. For example, to the extent that this increase is met from the cultivation of conventional feedstocks, such as corn, it could have greater water resource impacts than if the increase is met by next generation feedstocks, such as perennial grasses and woody biomass, according to experts and officials. Read more here.
WaterSense to Host Commercial and Institutional Stakeholder Meeting - The WaterSense program will hold their second Commercial and Institutional (CI) stakeholder meeting to be held via webinar on January 27, 2010 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. EST. This meeting is geared toward those who were unable to participate in our first stakeholder meeting which was held in Las Vegas on October 5, 2009. To register, please visit https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/176949330.
Post green column on showering references AWE - http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/30/AR2009113003039.html
“Green” Patent Applications Could get Priority - The U.S. Commerce Department's Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will pilot a program to accelerate the examination of certain "green" technology patent applications, Secretary Gary Locke announced. The new initiative will accelerate the development and deployment of green technology, create green jobs, and promote U.S. competitiveness in this vital sector. Read more here.
Water Award Seeks Nominations - The Stockholm International Water Award (SIWA), which recognizes the business sector's contribution to sustainable water management, is seeking nominations. It is given to any sector of business and industry. It acknowledges improved performance in production processes, new products and management, as well as innovative approaches in water and wastewater process technologies that together help to improve the world water situation. Nominations close February 15, 2010, learn more here.
Southwest Hydrology Journal Suspends Publication - Publication of the well respected journal Southwest Hydrology is being suspended because of the nationwide recession and because funding from the National Science Foundation ceased in December. The end of NSF support was expected but revenue gaps could not be filled. SAHRA, the umbrella organization for Southwest Hydrology, is not giving up on the publication so it is possible the journal will reappear in the future. We hope so.
New Water Journal Launched – A new quarterly open access journal on water science and technology, including the ecology and management of water resources, is being published by Molecular Diversity Preservation International (MDPI) online. Learn more here.
Vanishing Glaciers Imperil Bolivia - Fears are growing for the future of water supplies in one of Latin America's fastest-growing urban areas: Bolivia's sprawling capital of La Paz and its twin El Alto. Scientists monitoring the glaciers high in the Andes Mountains - a key source of water - say the ice is showing signs of shrinking faster than previously forecast. Faced with a booming population and a combination of glacial retreat and reduced rainfall, the governor of the La Paz region is even contemplating moving people to other parts of Bolivia. Read more here.
Demand Reduction Key to Closing World Water Gap: Report - A sweeping new report on the world’s water scarcity commissioned by such water-dependent companies as Coca-Cola, Nestle, SAB Miller and Syngenta, along with the World Bank/International Finance Corp found that global demand for water already exceeds supply — about 1.1 billion people don’t have access to clean water — and the so-called water gap is increasing at an accelerating rate. The report also noted that cost-effective, sustainable solutions are available to close the gap, particularly if governments and business focus on reducing demand rather than trying to generate additional supply. Read more here.
2009 was a Hot Year in Australia - Data collected by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology indicate that Australia's annual mean temperature for 2009 was 0.9C above the 1961-90 average, making it the nation's second warmest year since high-quality records began in 1910. High temperatures were especially notable in the southeast with Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales all recording their warmest July-December periods on record. Despite the long dry, several short-term flood events occurred in eastern Australia in 2009.
to Face Water Shortages: Expert - Parviz Kardovani, Director of the Desert Studies Center in Iran predicted that the nation’s central plateau region will face severe water shortages in 50 years. He blamed an "excessive increase in water consumption," poor water management, and urban sprawl, and called for concerted efforts to manage urban development and water demand. Read more here.
Mideast Water Crisis Worsens - The Middle East is facing its worst water crisis in decades. For three summers, the annual rains have failed to come. Farmland has dried up across the region in Iraq, Syria, southeast Turkey and Lebanon. While oil was the resource that defined the last century, water and its scarcity may define this one. Experts say the climate is warming in the Fertile Crescent, the area of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, contributing to the water shortage and helping to create a new phenomenon — water refugees. Read more here.
Women for Water Partnership Combines Gender and Water Issues - UNESCO-IHE and the Women for Water Partnership (WfWP) have agreed to jointly enhance women's participation in achieving sustainable livelihoods by broadening efforts to include gender issues and women’s empowerment in the water and sanitation sectors. With the launch of this strategic partnership, these groups will combine forces to develop UNESCO-IHE’s Waters & Society Programme, on the World Water Development Report of the United Nations and on the follow-up of the outcomes of World Water Forum 5. Read more here.
’s Tata Launches Low Cost Water Filter - The Indian industrial conglomerate Tata Group has launched a new low-cost water purifier, aimed at lower-income households in rural areas. The Tata 'Swach' purifier - named after the Hindi word for clean - will cost under $21.50 according to one Indian report and does not need running water or electricity to work. The Swach uses ash from rice milling to filter out bacteria, and also uses tiny silver particles to kill harmful germs that can lead to diseases like diarrhea, cholera and typhoid.
Cemetary Kills Artificial Turf - The Garden of Memories cemetery in Salinas, California, is removing all of the artificial turf, which had been installed over 5% of the grounds. Cemetery officials said the synthetic ground cover was initially installed to lower maintenance and watering costs; however, they found it to be difficult to work with. The artificial turf became slippery when it rained and was totally ruined when digging graves.
Canadians Say “No” to Bottled Water - Seventy-two municipalities from 8 provinces and 2 territories have implemented restrictions on bottled water. Read more here.
Water Efficiency Watch welcomes submission of articles, photos, stories, commentary, new technologies, web links, etc. Please e-mail your submission to Peter Mayer – firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.