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...

 AWE and SFPUC Win Imagine H2O Water Policy Challenge 

IH2O_Logo_Winner_GrayThe Alliance for Water Efficiency and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission took home a big victory in the Imagine H2O™ inaugural California Water Policy Challenge which seeks to advance the market for water innovation through forward-thinking policy.  AWE and SFPUC will receive up to $25,000 as a prize to support implementation.

AWE and SFPUC stood out against stiff competition including over one hundred submissions from academia, the private sector, government entities and NGOs. Successful applicants presented Imagine H2O with actionable policy recommendations to drive adoption of water technologies by California's cities, farms and industries.

The AWE and SFPUC partnership presented a compelling case for how discrete policy improvements to water reuse and recycling standards could incentivize water users to deploy on-site treatment technologies. 

"On-site water treatment is a widely recognized solution with considerable promise in the California market," says Mary Ann Dickinson, President and CEO of AWE.

"We look forward to developing a policy framework for onsite water systems that protects public health and allows for innovation and broader adoption of treatment technologies," says Paula Kehoe, Director of Water Resources with the SFPUC.

Public policy is vital to help California deploy water technology more effectively while inspiring the State's innovation economy to tackle the looming water crisis. Imagine H2O, the water innovation accelerator, launched the California Water Policy Challenge to highlight the need to overcome regulatory barriers to innovation and catalyze public-private collaboration on policy design and implementation.

"The California Water Policy Challenge demonstrates a growing interest in how policy can incentivize water technology adoption in the California market," said Nimesh Modak, Director of the Policy Program at Imagine H2O. "We hope this program serves to foster new partnerships with government to deliver real policy change and unlock innovation opportunities."

The Challenge's judging panel, comprised of experts in California water policy, selected a winner and three finalists to be featured at a forum in Sacramento in February. Policymakers and key stakeholders will discuss the proposals and the opportunities and challenges in the path towards implementation.

The Challenge recognized three additional proposals as Finalists.

The Results:

2016 Imagine H2O Policy Challenge Winner 

  • Alliance for Water Efficiency and San Francisco Public Utilities Commission

2016 Imagine H2O Policy Challenge Finalists 

  • The Freshwater Trust         
  • Greywater Action and Decentralized Water Policy Council
  • WaterNow Alliance

 Learning from Australia – New AWE Report Offers Recommendations for Managing Drought 

Australia Drought Report Cover - USStrategies developed and mistakes made during Australia’s decade-long millennium drought provide a powerful resource for California, as the state enters its fifth year of severe drought, according to a new report released in February by AWE, the Institute for Sustainable Futures, and the Pacific Institute.

“The Australian experience shows that investment in water conservation options provided the cheapest, quickest and most effective contribution to managing demand during the drought,” said Professor Stuart White, director of the Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF), at the University of Technology Sydney. “Without them many cities and towns would have run out of water.”

Managing Drought: Learning from Australia, a report by researchers at ISF, the Pacific Institute and the Alliance for Water Efficiency, provides an overview of key events and initiatives implemented in Australia’s four largest cities: Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.  The report was funded by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, and the Water Research Foundation.

Australia survived the millennium drought by demonstrating world-leading innovation and water planning and management, said Professor White. An important factor in the successes was community involvement which rallied support to lower household water demand to a target of 37 US gallons per person per day.

“California has made significant progress in advancing water conservation and efficiency to cope with the drought, but this report shows that more can be done,” said Heather Cooley, Director of the Water Program at the Pacific Institute, a global water think tank.  The state has set conservation targets and communities have implemented short-term water conservation measures, such as restrictions on outdoor watering. But according to Cooley “Australia made much larger investments in water conservation and efficiency, which allowed them to cope with the millennium drought and also reduce vulnerability to future droughts.”

“In Australia, urban water efficiency was the quiet achiever and California can benefit from long-term structural changes in water use by implementing similar water-efficiency measures,” said Mary Ann Dickinson, President and CEO of the Alliance for Water Efficiency.  However, she said, the Australian experience also provided lessons of what not to do.  “We wanted to document in this report lessons learned that can inform future decisions by California’s policy-makers.”  Download the Full Report Here 

 AWE White Paper Addresses Status of National Indoor Plumbing Regulations 

1-AWE Horizontal LogoA new white paper from AWE titled, the Status of Legislation, Regulation, Codes & 

Standards on Indoor Plumbing Water Efficiency was released in January.

The white paper addresses the following topics:

  • Status of Legislation & Regulation
  • Status of Green Building Codes, Standards and Rating Systems
  • Impacts on Product Manufacturers
  • The Energy vs. Water Efficiency Conundrum
  • Use of Alternate Water Sources

The white paper points out the significant number of regulations, green codes, standards, and rating systems in the United States and advocates for uniformity across the U.S. in earning indoor water efficiency points within all these programs and systems.

Download the AWE whitepaper here. 

 AWE Endorses Bipartisan Legislation to Eliminate Taxes on Water Rebates 

Congress_clipThe Alliance for Water Efficiency has endorsed the Water Conservation Tax Parity Act, bipartisan legislation to ease the tax burden on homeowners and clarify that rebates provided by water utilities for water-efficient improvements to a home are not subject to federal taxes.

This bill was introduced in late February by Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa). 

“In a state as drought-prone as California, the federal government should help homeowners who are making smart decisions about water efficiency, instead of taxing the rebates and incentives they receive,” Rep. Huffman said.

“Taxpayers should not be penalized for doing the right thing,” Rep Rohrabacher added.

Water utilities across the country – and especially in drought-stricken areas like California – are increasingly offering rebates and incentives to people who make investments that reduce water use and ease the strain on public infrastructure.

The IRS and Department of Treasury have now clarified that these rebates are officially considered taxable income, meaning that responsible homeowners across the country who took advantage last year of local rebate programs to improve water conservation or water runoff management are facing an unexpected tax bill this spring.

The Water Conservation Rebate Tax Parity Act clarifies that these rebates are not taxable income, but rather an effort to defray upfront consumer costs for the public benefit. Encouraging residents to reduce water usage by replacing water-thirsty lawns, installing “gray water” capture systems, or purchasing new water-efficient appliances can provide significant water yield benefits, protect public health, the environment, and local economies. These rebates provide a net benefit to the public and utilities. 

Energy Efficiency Rebates have been exempt from federal tax for decades.

 Using Graywater and Stormwater to Enhance Local Water Supplies Topic of New NAS Report 

rainfallA new report from the National Academy of Science addresses the use of graywater and storm water to enhance local water supplies. 

Despite the benefits of using local alternative water sources to address water demands, many questions remain that have limited the broader application of graywater and stormwater capture and use. In particular, limited information is available on the costs, benefits, and risks of these projects, and beyond the simplest applications many state and local public health agencies have not developed regulatory frameworks for full use of these local water resources.

Using Graywater and Stormwater to Enhance Local Water Supplies analyzes the risks, costs, and benefits on various uses of graywater and stormwater. This report examines technical, economic, regulatory, and social issues associated with graywater and stormwater capture for a range of uses, including non-potable urban uses, irrigation, and groundwater recharge. Using Graywater and Stormwater to Enhance Local Water Supplies considers the quality and suitability of water for reuse, treatment and storage technologies, and human health and environmental risks of water reuse. The findings and recommendations of this report will be valuable for water managers, citizens of states under a current drought, and local and state health and environmental agencies.

Graywater and stormwater can serve a range of non-potable uses, including irrigation, toilet flushing, washing, and cooling, although treatment may be needed. Stormwater may also be used to recharge groundwater, which may ultimately be tapped for potable use. In addition to providing additional sources of local water supply, harvesting stormwater has many potential benefits, including energy savings, pollution prevention, and reducing the impacts of urban development on urban streams. Similarly, the reuse of graywater can enhance water supply reliability and extend the capacity of existing wastewater systems in growing cities.

 House Holds Hearing to Discuss Water Resources Bill Implementation 

congress-flagThe House Transportation and Infrastructure panel on Water Resources held a hearing in February to examine the Army Corps of Engineers’ progress on developing implementation guidance for the 2014 Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA). The Corps has completed about 60% of the implementation guidance necessary to carry out the programs, policies or provisions authorized in the 2014 legislation. However, the committee was critical of the speed of the implementation, saying the agency was “slow-walking” the guidance. 

The committee also discussed the Corps’ recently released 7001 Annual Report to Congress. The Section 7001 report is the new process for nonfederal sponsors to submit projects to study or authorize in the post-earmark era. Congressional members were highly critical of the first report submitted by the Corps in 2015 for leaving out projects in their Districts. For a project to be eligible for a 7001 recommendation it must meet certain criteria that Congress wrote into the law and meet a benefit-cost ratio developed by the Office of Management and Budget.

Another major topic discussed at the hearing was developing an alternative financing program or public-private partnership (P3) that would allow the Corps to deliver projects quicker. Under a P3 model, funding is provided upfront by a private sponsor of the project. However the Corps has noted it doesn’t have the authority necessary to collect fees on the back end to pay for the project, like tolls or other “user fees”.  Learn more about Policy Statement 526. 

 Professor Who Exposed Flint Contamination Leads International Emerging Technology Symposium Speaker Lineup 

IapmoThe International Emerging Technology Symposium will be held May 10-11, 2016 at the Westin O'Hare in Rosemont, IL. Take advantage of early registration to earn a discounted rate for this exciting event, which will bring together professionals working to optimize the safe and efficient use of water with the latest technologies.

Speakers include: Dr. Marc Edwards, engineering professor and researcher at Virginia Tech who exposed the Flint, MI lead contamination; Tim Keane, consulting engineer, principal, Legionella Risk Management, Inc.; Gary Klein, president, Gary Klein and Associates, Inc.; Paula Kehoe, Water Resources Manager at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, and many other stellar speakers, including AWE's Mary Ann Dickinson.

The Keynote Address will be presented by Sustainability Research Expert Professor Stuart White, the Director of the Institute for Sustainable Futures who leads a team of researchers dedicated to creating a path to a sustainable future through independent, project-based research.  

Click here to learn more aboutthe program and to register.        

 AWE Seeks Funding for Two Outdoor Water Research Projects 

Outdoor Water Savings LogoAWE is seeking funding to undertake two new study topics on outdoor water use: Quantifying the Water Savings from Landscape Transformation Programs; and Quantifying the Water Savings from Drought Outdoor Watering Restrictions. RFPs have been drafted for each topic, and funding is now being solicited from study partners. 

If you are interested in contributing your data to this study effort and can also contribute funds toward the research, you can be part of the study team and participate directly in the study’s execution. Each of the two studies will be funded and launched once the funding targets are reached.

 Budget for Landscape Transformation Savings Study

  • $175,000 to $250,000
  • Project Period: 18-24 months

Budget for Drought Outdoor Water Restrictions Study

  • $150,000 - $200,000 
  • Project Period: 12-18 months

Download AWE's Phase 1 Outdoor  Water Savings Research Review Report here.  

For more information on how to participate in these two study efforts, please contact Project Manager Peter Mayer

 AWWA Releases 4th Edition of M36 Water Loss Audit and Control Manual 

m36-4-edition-coverAWWA has released the new 4th edition of the M36 Water Loss Audit and Control Programs manual, its best-selling resource on utility water loss control.

The updated M36 manual provides essential resource optimizing the ability to discover how much water it lost due to leakage, meter error, or water theft. With a clear explanation of the IWA/AWWA water audit methodology and some of the best loss control techniques, this manual empowers water professionals to determine the cost of uncaptured revenue from the non-revenue water (NRW) and minimize future losses. 

The new edition includes:

  • Enhanced guidance related to the optimized use of the AWWA Free Water Audit Software
  • Detailed instruction on production flowmeter and supply data management
  • Leakage management strategy via the Free Leakage Component Analysis Tool from the Water Research Foundation Project "Real Loss Component Analysis: a Tool for Economic Water Loss Control
  • Water audit summary statistics and data on operational practices of utilities
  • Regulatory developments in water loss control in nine state, regional, and provincial agencies

The new 4th edition M36 manual is available for purchase here. 

 Colorado Considers Legal Rain Barrels and Water Loss Legislation 

Colorado State FlagResidential rain barrels may finally become legal in Colorado if legislation is approved this session, but water loss control legislation may face a tougher road.

HB 16­1005 would allow Colorado residents to have two 55­ gallon rain barrels to collect rainwater from their rooftops. The water can only be used for outdoor irrigation, such as in gardens and on plants. Instead of letting all the rainwater get used by the lawn under the gutter, rain barrels would allow homeowners to direct a small amount of water to the garden instead. This is a renewed effort from last session, mirroring HB 15­1259, that had broad state­wide support.

Colorado could join California and Georgia and start requiring validated M36 water loss audits phased in over the next five years.  Legislation introduced in late February would require an annual water loss audit and reporting for the 80 largest water providers in Colorado.

HB 1283 – the Water Loss Accounting Act of 2016 – would require submission of validated water loss audit reports and provides grant funding support for training.  It is uncertain at this time if the bill has enough support to pass this session.

 AWE Hiring a Program Planner 

The Alliance for Water Efficiency is seeking a Program Planner to join its full-time staff. Under the guidance of the Program Manager, the Program Planner will work closely with other staff to promote water efficiency and sustainable water management practices, and to expand our outreach and impact internationally. Click here to learn more about the position.  

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.