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.  Like and follow AWE on Facebook and Twitter for a chance to win an iPod Touch! For residential water use information and water saving tips visit Home Water Works.

In this issue of Water Efficiency Watch...

US House Blocks Enforcement of Showerhead Efficiency Standards

Congress_clipIn a stunning move late in the evening on June 5, the US House of Representatives approved a budget amendment that would prohibit the Department of Energy from enforcing showerhead flow standards.

The amendment, proposed by Congressman David Schweikert (R-AZ) whose district includes Scottsdale, was passed in a late night vote on HR 5325, the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2013. A PDF of the amendment is available here.

This amendment will effectively prevent any enforcement against manufacturers or importers of non-compliant (i.e. high flow) showerheads manufactured in or imported into the US.

schweikert “This is a disastrous turn of events for the water efficiency community,” said AWE CEO Mary Ann Dickinson.  “We have been working diligently for years to ensure uniform compliance with federal law and the DOE has finally stepped up and started to take action against violators whose flagrant noncompliance hurt legal complying US manufacturers. This amendment will stop this progress.”

Congressman Schweikert explained his reasoning on the House floor.  Apparently one of his constituents received a $400,000 DOE fine for manufacturing non-compliant showerheads.  Schweikert, who hails from one of the driest and water-stressed regions in the US, also confessed that he himself illegally removes the flow restrictor whenever he installs a new showerhead, “because I like to get wet”.

The bill now goes to the Senate, where there is opportunity to defeat this amendment in its present form.   AWE urges all those concerned about this issue to contact their senators as soon as possible.  AWE will continue to provide timely updates on this unfortunate development.

Dickinson Receives Inaugural AWWA RIPPLE Award

MAD-Award-001-smallAWE President and CEO Mary Ann Dickinson received the inaugural RIPPLE award from the American Water Works Association Water Conservation Division at their meeting in Dallas on June 10.

The RIPPLE award (Representing Innovative People and Promotions that Lead to increased Water Efficiency) was created to recognize an individual’s contribution, initiatives and dedication to the work of the AWWA Water Conservation Division in advancing the concepts of increased water use efficiency.

Dickinson was honored for her 36 year career in which she has been an innovative leader in environmental stewardship and an early pioneer in water efficiency.  She was Chair of the AWWA Water Conservation from 1998-2000, and chair of the Water Conservation Committee in 1997 prior to achieving Division status.  She was a Trustee of the Conservation on a continuous basis since the Division was formed until June of 2001.  During that time, she helped plan most of the ACE and mid-winter meetings of the Division.  Congratulations Mary Ann!

DOE Releases Updated Efficiency Standards for Clothes Washers and Dishwashers

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently released new energy efficiency standards that are expected to reduce by 35% energy and water consumption in clothes washers, and dishwashers will use 14% less energy and 23% less water.

Efficient clothes washers and dishwashers use better design and components such as motors and pumps to save on energy and water.

Taking into account increased upfront costs, DOE estimates more than $31 billion in total savings over 30 years.  The dishwasher standards take effect in 2013 and the clothes washer standards take effect in 2015.  Learn more here.

Québec Partners with WaterSense

QuebecThe Canadian province of Québec is now a WaterSense partner.  The Minister of Municipal Affairs, Regions and Land Occupancy, Mr. Laurent Lessard, and the Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks, Mr. Pierre Arcand, announced the signing of the WaterSense Partnership Agreement by Québec on June 6.

Quebec’s partnership with the WaterSense program is part of the proceedings of the Board of Water Management Council of the Federation to establish a nationwide program of labeling efficiency of products in terms of water consumption.

"I am pleased to announce the membership of the Government of Quebec to the WaterSense program that encourages conservation of drinking water across North America. This program, already well established, will further develop products and promote sustainable practices to save water in Quebec. This initiative is an extension of Québec's Strategy for Water Use Efficiency, which provides a reduction of at least 20% of the average water consumption per person, "said Minister Lessard.

Learn more (in French) here.

Award Nominations Sought for Exemplary Water-Energy Efficiency Programs  

light_bulb_energyThe call for nominations for the Exemplary Efficiency Programs that Save Both Water and Energy Recognition and Awards is now open.  Winning programs will be selected from these nominations by an expert panel of judges, featured in an AWE/ACEEE report, and recognized with awards.  Winning programs will be chosen from the following categories:

  • Residential (indoor and outdoor) 
  • Commercial (indoor and outdoor) 
  • Industrial (indoor and outdoor) 
  • Corporate/Government/Institutional Sustainability
  • Agriculture
  • Water/Wastewater Treatment and Conveyance
  • Energy Supply or Generation
  • Research, Development, and Demonstration (RD&D) 
  • Cross-Cutting/Other

Nominations must be submitted no later than Friday, July 13, 2012.   Learn more, get a description of eligibility and criteria, and submit a program for an award here.

Program Descriptions Sought for Water-Energy Program Database 

Do you work on or manage a program that saves both water and energy?  If yes, please take five minutes and submit your program for inclusion in the Water-Energy Efficiency Program Database. The database is a joint project of AWE and ACEEE.

This database is intended to provide a listing of basic information on existing water-energy programs. The data submitted will be made publicly available in order to provide an opportunity to users to learn about water-energy programs operating elsewhere.

Please contact Eric Mackres at ACEEE with questions.

Tucson Study Finds New Homes Using Less Water than Older Homes

A new study from Tucson Water found that homes in Tucson, Arizona built after 2000 use less water than homes built before 2000.  The report suggests that structural differences may be the reason for the lower use.  These structural differences include:  Smaller parcels, more garage bays, fewer swimming pools, and a transition to air conditioning from evaporative cooling.

The report did not track changes that have been found significant in other recent studies including: more efficiency clothes washers, toilets, faucets, showers, and irrigation systems.

Download a PDF of the Tucson study here.

DOE Proposes Testing Rules for a Variety of Water Using Fixtures

DOE LogoThe U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has published a notice of proposed rulemaking regarding its test procedures for measuring the water use of showerheads, faucets, water closets, urinals, and commercial pre-rinse spray vales, and related matters. The notice is available for public viewing here. 

DOE will hold a public meeting on July 24, 2012 to present information related to the amendments proposed in the notice and to receive comments.  Webinar access to the meeting is an option.  Details will be provided soon by DOE.

Comparisons of Voluntary “Green” Codes Available

green globeEfficiency codes and standards guru John Koeller has developed a useful comparison of the various standards and guidelines that currently exist for plumbing fixtures and appliances beyond the U.S. National Standards set out in the Energy Policy Act.

The six standards and guidelines compared in this document are:

  1. IAPMO Green Plumbing & Mechanical Code Supplement (2012 version just published)
  2. ICC International Green Construction Code (IgCC), (Final 2012 version just published)
  3. ASHRAE SS189.1 Standard for High Performance Buildings
  4. ASHRAE S191P Standard for Water Efficiency (pre-release of public review draft;  thresholds have not been approved)
  5. ICC 700/NAHB Standard for Residential
  6. California's CalGREEN Code

Download the comparison PDF here.

Brent Meacham of the Irrigation Association has compiled a comparison of the green codes and standards that impact landscapes and irrigation.   Download the IA comparison here.

In related news, the International Code Council  (ICC) and the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) announced their intention to jointly develop a new ANSI standard, designated as “ASABE/ICC Landscape Irrigation Sprinkler and Emitter Standard.”

The new standard will establish requirements for landscape sprinklers and emitters. It will address design, performance and uniform testing and assessment methods for these devices.  Learn more here.

House Bill Aims to Better Coordinate Water Research 

congressThe Coordinating Water Research for a Clean Water Future Act of 2012 (HR 5827), introduced on May 18, 2012, would elevate the importance of clean and reliable water through the implementation of a National Water Research and Development Initiative at the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) out of the White House.

If approved, the Initiative will improve the federal government's role in coordinating federal water research activities which will help address changes in U.S. clean water use, quality, supply, and demand. The Act would establish an interagency committee, coordinating office, and advisory committee to implement the Initiative.  The Act also requires a Strategic Plan to identify and prioritize research to ensure that clean and reliable water will be available for generations and an Annual Report to Congress on the Initiative’s progress.

Learn more about this and other water related bills on AWE’s Legislative Watch Page

Water Sustainability Prominent at Rio+20 

rio20_logoWater sustainability issues are expected to be prominent at the upcoming United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development Summit later this month – Rio+20.

The Stockholm International Water Institute, a close affiliate of AWE, has prepared Key Messages to the Rio+20, which provide a series of priorities on water issues to be included in the outcome documents of the Summit.

SIWI’s main points are:

  1. Set a sustainable development goal on water for improved water efficiency, reduced water pollution and improved wastewater management.
  2. Integrate water in climate adaptation and mitigation policy and implementation at all levels.
  3. Establish good water governance as a prerequisite for sustainable development.

Learn more here.

Colorado Combats Drought with Landscape Efficiency

Colorado colorWith the entire state suffering some level of drought according to the National Drought Mitigation Center, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper proclaimed July as Smart Irrigation Month, part of an ongoing shift in the state’s approach to landscaping. In January, Hickenlooper proclaimed 2012 the “Year of Water,” and communities across the state are hosting activities.

Over the past 20 years, many Colorado landscapes have undergone significant transformation.  In response to the drought of 2002, cities throughout Colorado began to implement landscape-focused water-conservation programs like rebates for weather-based irrigation controllers, matched precipitation sprinkler heads, and water wise landscaping.

In 2007, the city of Aurora, the second largest city in the state, began a Xeriscape Rebate Program, and in 2009, city code was changed to include incentives for property owners who Xeriscape.   In response, the amount of water homeowners used on lawns and beds dropped drastically, to an annual 11 inches in 2009, from 35 inches or more in 2006 to 2008.  Learn more here.

USGS Projects Effects of Climate Change on Water Availability in 14 River Basins

Climate change projections indicate a steady increase in temperature progressing through the 21st century, generally resulting in snowpack reductions, changes to the timing of snowmelt, altered streamflows, and reductions in soil moisture, all of which could affect water management, agriculture, recreation, hazard mitigation, and ecosystems across the nation.  Despite some widespread similarities in climate change trends, climate change will affect specific water basins in the U.S. differently, based on the particular hydrologic and geologic conditions in that area. 

New USGS modeling studies project changes in water availability due to climate change at the local level. So far, the USGS has applied these models to fourteen river basins, including: 

Learn more here.

News Briefs and Web Links

  • Drought Impacts More than Half of US - According to the US Drought Monitor, 56% of the states in the U.S. are experiencing drought conditions, almost twice the area compared to last year at this time. In addition to the West, drought conditions are prevalent in the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic and parts of the Northeast.
  • $5.3 million from Feds for Agricultural Efficiency in California -  The US Bureau of Reclamation and Natural Resources Conservation Service are working together to leverage funds for water delivery agencies and agricultural producers for a second consecutive year, and will provide $5.3 million in funding to five water districts and associated growers in California to save water and improve water management.  Learn more here.
  • House Bill Would Research Energy-Water Nexus - Legislation to require $300 million in new federal research into the energy-water nexus and to create a new White House initiative on water policy has been introduced in the House.  Learn more here.
  • Building Dashboard Site Tracks Resource Consumption of Buildings – Ever wonder how water in a mixed use office building is being used on the hour, day, week, or year?   Water use per day per occupant?   Or how water use and energy use match up on the same timescale?  Real-time monitoring of resource consumption in buildings is advancing.   Check out energy and water demand patterns from the Joseph Vance Building in Seattle here.
  • Green Plumbers Reference Manual Released – Green Plumbers have released the first edition of the Green Plumbers Reference Manual, a tool for plumbing contractors, engineers, designers, architects and anyone else interested in the latest technologies for saving water and energy. This reference manual also serves as a study guide for the Green Plumbers accreditation test, and is the model for live workshops and online classes.  Order your copy here.
  • In Florida, Groundwater Pumping Creates Sinkholes – Is increased water efficiency a possible solution to help stop that sinking feeling?  Learn more here.
  • Conservation Is Working in Miami - The Miami, Florida metropolitan area population has grown by 600,000 in the last decade, but the 53 water utilities serving that area were asked to pump 83 million gallons less water during the same period. Residents and businesses used 20 percent less water in 2010 than they did in 2000, a savings of 30 billion gallons a year.  Learn more here.
  • IAPMO Certifies Cyber Rain Irrigation Controllers to WaterSense Specification - IAPMO R&T has completed WaterSense certification Cyber Rain's line of weather-based commercial and residential irrigation controllers, making IAPMO R&T the first third-party certification body to certify such a product as meeting the latest WaterSense efficiency specification.  Learn more here.
  • No Water Releases for Endangered Colorado Fish in 2012 - A voluntary river flow program to provide enhanced spring peak flows for endangered fish in Colorado will not take effect this year.  Operators of several reservoirs in Colorado cannot implement the Coordinated Reservoirs Operations program this spring because river will not approach levels where increased flows would benefit the endangered fishes. This year is very dry, similar to 2002.  The current forecast for the water supply for the Colorado River at Cameo near Grand Junction, Colo., is 44 percent of average. 
  • Water and Wastewater Utility Cooperation Documented - A new AWWA report provides a national inventory of regional collaboration among water and wastewater utilities.  The study was conducted to identify areas of collaboration, structures to facilitate collaborations, and recommendations and barriers to collaborative efforts. 
  • Brussels Rules Out EU-Wide Water Efficiency Target - Huge water leakage differences between member states make an EU-wide water efficiency target “not necessary”, says an EU official working on the directive for the European Commission.  Learn more here.
  • Eco Toolkit for Cafés and Restaurants Available – A new UK web site offers useful information for improving water efficiency in in food service.  Check it out here.
  • New Water Efficiency Video Features a Neurotic Bucket – A new water efficiency video campaign from the European Commission features a neurotic bucket and a psychiatrist.  Check out the first video here. 
  • Unsustainable Groundwater Use Contributes to Sea Level Rise Say Scientists – A team of Japanese and US scientists are reporting that groundwater depletion has contributed to sea-level rise because a large portion of the water removed from the groundwater systems ultimately reaches the oceans.  Learn more here.
  • Some UK Water Providers Don’t Have to Reduce Water Loss – The UK is suffering through drought, but some water providers who have already hit established leakage targets may not be required to do more before 2015.  Learn more here. 
  • Climate Change Festival of Transition - The Festival of Transition asks people to consider how we will adapt to changes in our economy and society resulting from climate change and an end to cheap fossil fuels.  On Wednesday 20th June 2012 people are invited to conduct their own real life 24 hour experiment in living differently, showing what's possible.
  • Solar Powered Desal Creates Oasis in Israel - Ben-Gurion University of the Negev researchers have created a human-made oasis in the desert with the successful application of a solar-powered desalination system that provides water for irrigation in arid regions.  Learn more 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.

Don’t forget to like and follow AWE on   Facebook and  Twitter for your chance to win an iPod Touch.

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.