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
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In this issue of Water Efficiency Watch...
The US Green Building Council
(USGBC) is seeking comments on the LEED 2012 rating system which includes
substantial changes to the water efficiency component. The long-term ideal for
achieving water efficiency in buildings through LEED is to create a
comprehensive water budget that allows project teams to determine their
project's major water uses and target efficiency measures at the areas of
According to USGBC, the 2012 ratings system for water
efficiency has been expanded in scope. The 2012 water efficiency category
addresses more building water uses than LEED 2009. In LEED 2012, the credits
are reorganized as an incremental step towards an integrated water budget, along
with mandatory requirements for water metering.
The LEED Water Efficiency
Technical Advisory Group (WETAG) worked hard to ensure that efficiency
pre-requisites were maintained in LEED 2012. AWE and its members on the WETAG
played an important role in this successful outcome. As one example, the LEED
pre-requisites provide two different options for complying with the outdoor
efficiency requirement: (1) reduce the project’s Landscape Water Requirement by
30% from the calculated baseline; or (2) show that the landscape will not
require long-term irrigation beyond a maximum two year establishment
USGBC is soliciting comments on LEED 2012 through March 20,
2012, and AWE is urging its members to weigh in. Learn
more about LEED 2012 and submit comments here.
The growing importance of the
WaterSense program came in for special mention in the fiscal 2013 budget of the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
"In a short timeframe, WaterSense
has become a national symbol for water efficiency," said EPA Administrator Lisa
Jackson in her justification for the EPA budget submitted to congressional
leaders. "Awareness of WaterSense is growing every day...and a strong network of
stakeholders across the nation will build awareness of the need for efficient
use of water."
Despite President Obama proposing the third
consecutive decrease in overall EPA spending, Jackson cited WaterSense as an
example of the agency's efforts to ensure long-term sustainable water
infrastructure. The president's budget asked for an $8 million increase in
funding for Surface Water Protection programs, which include WaterSense, without
specifying the funding level for WaterSense.
The President’s 2013 budget
prioritizes within the new Rivers Initiative river restoration and recreation
projects in all 50 states; the development of a National Blueways System to
recognize communities which rediscover, restore, and reconnect with rivers; and
a National Rivers Atlas and other online river restoration and recreation tools.
The move was applauded by numerous river advocacy organizations, including
River Network and American Rivers.
The budget incorporates many of the
projects that river advocates around the country helped generate through the
America’s Great Outdoors initiative. Learn
Texas landowners can claim the
groundwater underneath their land as personal property, the Texas Supreme Court
ruled in February, in a blow to state regulators.
"We held long ago that
oil and gas are owned in place, and we find no reason to treat groundwater
differently," Justice Nathan Hecht wrote for the court.
A pair of
landowners filed suit after failing to obtain a permit to drill a replacement
well on their 381-acres ranch above the Edwards Aquifer, which San Antonio uses
for water. The Edwards Aquifer Authority refused to give a permit because it
believed that the previous well wasted water. But the landowners claimed they
should be compensated for the loss of their right to pump water.
ruling from the Texas high court restores the farmers' right to pump the water
and gives them ownership of the water below their land. This is a shift from
the court's ruling dating back to 1904 that adopted the rule of capture and
recognized no such rights for groundwater.
The ruling leaves questions
about the future regulation of groundwater in Texas.
state is empowered to regulate groundwater production,” the Texas high court
opinion states. “In many areas of the state, and certainly in the Edwards
Aquifer, demand exceeds supply.” However, the court found that if the
regulation of water is thought to be unreasonable, the landowner can seek
redress in the courts. Learn
Restoring existing water systems
as they reach the end of their useful lives and expanding them to serve a
growing population will cost at least $1 trillion over the next 25 years if
utilities in the US are to maintain current levels of water service, according
to a new report from the American Water Works Association (AWWA).
report, Buried No Longer: Confronting America’s Water Infrastructure
Challenge, says that because of its age, “it comes as no surprise that
a large proportion of US water infrastructure is approaching, or has already
reached, the end of its useful life.” What’s more the report notes, over the
coming 40-year period -- through 2050 -- water infrastructure needs exceed
$1.7 trillion. Customer water bills are going to have increase to pay for this
infrastructure, the report concludes.
The report found that the South and
the West regions of the US will face the steepest investment challenges, and
total needs in these areas account for well over 50% of the national total. This
is largely attributable to the fact that the population of these regions is
growing rapidly. The report notes that in the Northeast and Midwest, growth is a
relatively small component of the projected need. However, the population shifts
away from these regions complicate the infrastructure challenge, as there are
fewer remaining local customers across whom to spread the cost of renewing their
From Oregon to Georgia, water
professionals are gearing up for Fix
a Leak Week, a WaterSense program designed to focus attention on the water
lost leaks. Fix a Leak Week 2012 is scheduled for March 12 – 18 and the
emphasis is on empowering people to take action to repair leaking toilets and
Here is a snapshot of events scheduled across the country for
Fix a Leak Week:
- Georgia - The Athens-Clarke
County (ACC) Water Conservation Office has partnered with the University of
Georgia Office of Sustainability for Fix a Leak Week this year with a “helping
hands” approach to fixing leaks. Volunteers from Athens-area churches and
faith-based student organizations at the University of Georgia-Athens will
perform water conservation audits at churches, show residents how to audit
homes, and distribute free WaterSense labeled faucet aerators and other
- Oregon - The Banks City Council has issued
a proclamation declaring Fix a Leak Week, and customers will receive a flyer
about Fix a Leak Week in their February water bills. If the customer mentions
the flyer, select plumbers will provide the first half hour of labor for free
during that week.
- New Mexico – In Gallup, the Fix a Leak Week
celebration will be held one afternoon at the county courthouse, with a free
showerhead, aerator, and toilet leak detection packet for the first 300
more information about Fix a Leak Week here.
The National Mayor’s Challenge
for Water Conservation set for March 30 – April 30, 2012, is a national
competition to reduce water use with winners taking big prizes including a new
The competition is structured into four different regions,
West, Midwest, South and Northeast and is further categorized by population.
Communities with 5,000 to 30,000 residents will compete against one another as
well as cities with 30,001 to 100,000 residents and cities with 100,000+
In addition to the Toyota Prius Hybrid, other prizes up for
grabs include a new Rain Bird sprinkler system, Eco-Flow showerheads from
WaterPik, Sterling water-saving toilets and Lowe’s gift cards.
and sign up for the Mayor’s Challenge here.
A new manual attempts to establish uniform
internationally agreed upon methods for calculating the water footprint of goods
and services across the globe. The Water Footprint Assessment Manual:
Setting the Global Standard prepared by the Water Footprint Network offers a
complete and up-to-date overview of water footprint assessment methods and
The manual available for free
- A comprehensive set of methods for water
- How-to methods for calculating water footprints
for individual processes and products, as well as for consumers, nations and
- Detailed worked examples of how to calculate green, blue and
grey water footprints
- Methods for assessing the sustainability of the
aggregated water footprint within a river basin or the water footprint of a
Perhaps most importantly, the manual includes an
extensive library of possible measures that can contribute to water
The Public Service Commission
of Wisconsin has approved changes to Administrative
Code impacting all
Wisconsin water utilities that will require an annual water audit as well as
updating standards for evaluating water loss in utility distribution
It is hoped that the code changes will also update and
streamline the water utility construction authorization process, establish cost
effectiveness criteria for voluntary water conservation programs, and require
additional education and outreach.
The rules were sent to the State
Legislature for final approval, which is expected to occur later this spring.
The proposed rules can be viewed
Alabama and Florida are taking
their 20-year water fight with Georgia to the U.S. Supreme court. The states
filed petitions with the U.S. Supreme Court last month seeking review of an
appellate court decision in June that gave metro Atlanta rights to water from
This latest appeal is expected to delay work on an
operations manual to establish the Atlanta area's share of water from the
federal reservoirs at Lake Lanier and Lake Allatoona, said Lisa Coghlan, deputy
public affairs officer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The corps is under
court order to complete the manuals by June.
Florida and Alabama hope the
Supreme Court will reverse a June 2011 ruling by the 11th Circuit Court of
Appeals that overturned a 2009 decision by U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson.
That decision that found the Atlanta area had no right to water in Lake Lanier,
a federally constructed reservoir. Magnuson gave the states until this summer to
reach agreement on downstream releases or threatened to pull metro Atlanta's
access to the lake, removing a key source of water for 3.5 million people.
"For 60 years, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has consistently stated that
its original plans for Lake Lanier did not intend for any part of the reservoir
to be dedicated to the Atlanta area’s water supply," said Jeremy King, a
spokesman for Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley. "No other court of appeals in the
country has overridden an agency’s viewpoint in similar circumstances, so this
is the type of case the Supreme Court needs to review.”
The Adaptation Strategies
Guide for Water Utilities is now available on EPA’s Climate
Ready Water Utilities website.
Climate change impacts pose challenges
to the water sector -- drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater utilities --
in fulfilling their public health and environmental missions. Extreme weather
events, sea level rise, shifting precipitation and runoff patterns, temperature
changes, and resulting changes in water quality and availability contribute to a
complex scenario of climate change challenges that have potentially significant
implications for the sustainability of the water sector.
Ready Water Utilities (CRWU) initiative provides resources for the water sector
to adapt to climate change by promoting a clear understanding of climate science
and adaptation options and by promoting consideration of integrated water
resources management (IWRM) planning in the water sector.
Federal energy regulators have
rejected an application for a controversial 500-mile water pipeline from Flaming
Gorge Reservoir in Wyoming to Colorado’s Front Range. The Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission (FERC) dismissed a preliminary permit application for the
pipeline -- a move that could derail the project according to some.
"The Flaming Gorge pipeline is a zombie project at this point," said Rob
Harris and attorney with the Colorado-based Western Resource Advocates (WRA), a
conservation group opposed to the pipeline.
Project developer Aaron
Million insisted that the FERC decision just means he needs to fill in more
details before resubmitting the required FERC application. Time will tell. Learn
In the absence of leadership at the federal level to enact
comprehensive climate and clean energy legislation, local municipalities and
community organizations are adopting policies, strategies, and partnerships that
promote energy efficiency, save money, and reduce pollution. This increased
level of activity in promoting energy efficiency at the local level is the focus
of a white paper released in February by ACEEE and the MIT Energy Efficiency
The white paper presents eight case studies from
communities across the country and showcases how local governments and civil
society can support energy efficiency efforts through enabling policies and
program partnerships. Learn
more and download the white paper here.
The 2012 WaterSense Partner of
the Year application period is currently open with all award applications due by
Launched in 2008, the WaterSense Partners of the Year awards
program recognizes WaterSense partners who:
- Help advance the overall
mission of WaterSense
- Increase awareness of the WaterSense brand in a
- Demonstrate overall excellence in the water-efficiency
Partners of the Year contribute to the program's success by
enhancing the market for water-efficient products, practices, and services. Find out if
you’ve got what it takes to be a WaterSense Partner of the Year, download and
submit your application here.
Texas Reservoirs Are Filling, Some Restrictions Lifted – Welcome
precipitation is easing drought conditions in parts of Texas while others remain
in extreme drought. Check
out this graphic from Texas Water News depicting reservoir levels from across
the state. In related news, the San Antonio Water System officially lifted
Stage One drought restrictions on March 6.
- Below Average Water Year
Expected in Utah – Unless snowpack improves dramatically, Utah
snowpack and snow-related water supply will be lower than usual this
- Benefits of Washing Clothes in Cold Water Touted - When
doing laundry, heating water can account for up to 80 percent of the energy used
per wash load in the U.S. By moving to cold water, Americans could reduce CO2
emissions by up to 11 million metric tons annually according to the Alliance to
Save Energy. Learn
- 5.6 Million Trees Killed by Texas Drought: Forest
Service - In Texas, 5.6 million shade trees in urban areas have died as a
result of the drought, according
to the Texas Forest Service. This accounts for about 10 percent of the total
amount of trees in the urban forest.
- EPA Launches Green
Infrastructure Web Site - Green infrastructure is an approach that
communities can choose to maintain healthy waters, provide multiple
environmental benefits and support sustainable communities. Check
out the web site here.
- Don’t Care for Xeriscape? Try
Ecoscape! – Strathcona County, Alberta, Canada is providing useful
information on a new version of waterwise landscaping called “ecoscape”. Whatever you call it, we think it’s a great idea. Learn
more about ecoscaping here.
- Postel’s National Geographic Blog
Recognizes AWE – Water expert Sandra Postel gave a welcome shout out to AWE
in her recent
Water Currents blog for National Geographic. Thanks Sandra!
Metro Atlanta a Leader in Water Conservation? – PolitiFact investigates the
claim of a local official that "The Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning
District is now the national leader in conservation," and finds it “mostly
false.” Nevertheless, important strides have been made in Georgia over the past
few years. Read
- Seven Curious Things About Water Management –
Dr. Jay Lund of UC Davis offers (at least) seven useful insights into water
management in this
- Clarke Prize Nomination Deadline Extended to April
1- The deadline for nominations for the 2012 recipient of the NWRI
Athalie Richardson Irvine Clarke Prize for excellence in water research has
been extended an additional month. The new deadline is April 1. The Prize,
which includes a medallion and $50,000 award honors scholarly and practical
achievements in water research.
- Carole Baker Profiled in “Our Hero”
Blog – AWE’s board chair gets some well-deserved kudos in this blog
- EPA Insists More Information Needed on Colorado
River Diversion Project - A project to divert additional Colorado River
water to growing Colorado suburbs may cause "significant degradation" of already
deteriorating ecosystems along the upper Colorado and the EPA has insisted on
more information before approval. Learn
- Conservation Seminar Brings Efficiency Message to
Drought-Shocked Texas - More than 300 people immersed themselves in a water
conservation symposium last month at the Amarillo Civic Center to hear from
state officials and representatives from cities noted for being progressive
- ASHRAE and IAPMO Team to Promote Built Environment
Codes and Standards - ASHRAE and the International Association of Plumbing
and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) have entered
into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) specifically detailing ways in
which the two organizations can work together to advance and promote mutual
interests in built environment codes and standards.
Design Combines Rainwater Capture and Electricity Generation - What would
you end up with if you combined a solar light with a rainwater harvest system
wrapped in a design reminiscent of nature? Check
out this innovative design concept here.
- Texas Military Golf
Course Irrigates With Recycled Water - Every year, Corpus Christi, Texas,
used to dump 80 million gallons of recycled water in the nearby Laguna Madre
Bay, near the Gulf of Mexico. Now, under a new agreement signed with the
military, the city will be providing this water to the Golf Winds Golf Course,
located at the Naval Air Station, Corpus Christi. Learn
- Carbon Disclosure Project Releases 2011 Global Water
Report - CDP Water disclosure’s goal is encourage meaningful and systematic
reporting on water use globally so that investors and other stakeholders can
understand how companies are building water into their core business
the 2011 report here.
- WWF-UK Teams with Beverage Giant for
Water Footprint Report – The World Wildlife Fund (WWF-UK) and beverage giant
SAB Miller (beer & Coca Cola) have teamed to produce a new report: Water
Footprinting: Identifying and Assessing Water Risks in the Value Chain. Download
the report here.
- UK Author Tries to Reduce Water Footprint
about one person’s efforts to reduce water use.
Sustainable Water Management Conference Heads to Portland, Oregon March 18 – 21
- This year’s AWWA Sustainable Water Management Conference will be held in
Portland, Oregon from March 18 – 21, 2012. Learn
- UK Waterwise Conference Set for March 21, 22 -
This year's UK Waterwise conference will be in Oxford at Lady Margaret Hall and
the theme is 'Engaging water users'. Learn
- IAPMO Green Technical Committee (GTC) Meetings
Scheduled - April 19-20 in Chicago at the Embassy Suites Hotel
O’Hare-Rosemont and August 23-24 in Ontario at IAPMO Headquarters. Learn
- MWD Spring Green Expo to be Held May 3 in LA –
Join the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California for a one-day water
conservation and sustainability expo featuring speakers and exhibits. Learn
Water Efficiency Watch welcomes submission of
articles, photos, stories, commentary, new technologies, web links, etc. Please
e-mail your submission to Peter Mayer – email@example.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.