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 Awarded US Water Prize and Kudos from EPA Administrator 

Kelly-Kopp-prize-smWashington, DC. “A huge piece of climate change revolves around water” explained U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy as she addressed more than 300 water leaders at the U.S. Water Prize ceremony hosted Monday night at the National Geographic Society’s headquarters in Washington D.C.  It was a special night for the Alliance for Water Efficiency, one of four winners honored at the prestigious ceremony.  Other US Water Prize winners were: American Water, Voorhees, NJ; Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati, OH; and Orange County Water District and Sanitation District, California. 

“There’s a thread that ties all these winners together” McCarthy said.  “It’s that they aren’t just thinking about providing clean water today‐‐but managing it for the future.  That kind of ingenuity requires thinking outside the box.  It requires breaking down barriers and cross‐collaboration.”  

Deputy Secretary Michael Connor, U.S. Department of the Interior, also picked up on the theme as he congratulated winners: “Innovation in partnerships may very well be the key.” He described his experiences touring areas that have been hit by extreme weather and drought.  “The urgency of these events epitomizes the phrase “water is life.”

In its fourth year, the U.S. Water Prize is presented by the U.S. Water Alliance to recognize organizations with strategies that promote the value of water and the power of innovating and integrating for “one water” sustainability Nominations are reviewed by an independent, volunteer panel of judges representative of the most respected leaders in the fields of water and environmental policy.  

“I appreciate water in ways I never dreamed before starting this work,” shared Kelly Kopp, Chair of the Alliance for Water Efficiency while accepting the award with President Mary Ann Dickinson. 

“Water efficiency is a much deeper issue than just turning off the water while brushing your teeth,” explains Dickinson.  “When we started six years ago, we were the only advocates in this space.  We’ve played a unique role, advocating for water efficiency in the same way energy efficiency advocates have for decades.  AWE was recognized for uniting multiple sectors to stress how efficiency benefits diverse objectives:  utility economic viability, environmental benefits, jobs creation, and solutions at national, state and local levels. 

See more photos from the ceremony and learn more about the US Water Prize here

Kelly Kopp Succeeds Carole Baker as AWE Chair 

AWE's Carole Baker, Mary Ann Dickinson, and Kelly Kopp and Ben Grumbles US Water Prize 2014The Alliance for Water Efficiency's guiding spirit, Board Chair Carole Baker has stepped down after seven years leading the non-profit organization.  She leaves AWE in capable hands of Kelly Kopp, a Professor from Utah State University who has served on the AWE Board of Directors since its inception.

Carole Baker, Executive Director of the Texas Water Foundation, has been the AWE Board Chair ever since the organization was founded in January 2007.   Her leadership put AWE on the map right out of the gate and helped the organization to raise seed funding, do meaningful work, and establish a basis for future growth.

“The water conservation community wanted a means of creating and presenting a unified national perspective,” Baker explained. “Until the Alliance was founded, water efficiency lacked a national organization similar to those that already exist for energy.  It has been a pleasure to serve as Chair of the Board for AWE. I could not be more pleased to see Kelly Kopp take over the role of Chair.  She has been an outstanding Board member from the beginning of AWE and will bring her passion and energy to this new role. I look forward to continuing to work and support AWE and am very excited about the important role that AWE will continue to play in the preserving and protecting of our most important resource!"

"The Alliance for Water Efficiency would not be what it is today, without the steady leadership and guidance of Carole Baker," said new Board Chair Kelly Kopp.  "Carole led AWE through the organization’s early, growing years with commitment, passion, and an ever-optimistic attitude that I will strive to emulate as I begin my own term as Chair. AWE remains an organization completely dedicated to the efficient and sustainable use of water and I could not be more proud to continue my association with the organization in this new capacity."

Kelly Kopp is Professor/Extension and a Water Conservation and Turfgrass Specialist at Utah State in Logan.  Her primary areas of study are plant science, ornamental horticulture, and turf.  Kopp and Baker are shown in the photo at right with AWE CEO Mary Ann Dickinson, accepting the US Water Prize from Ben Grumbles, President of the U.S. Water Alliance. 

AWE Exemplary Program Webinar on Innovative CII Water Efficiency Programs Set for May 6th 

cww_logoThe second webinar in the Exemplary Programs series will feature the Commercial, Industrial, and Institutional programs of City West Water in Melbourne, Australia. During Australia's epic 10-year drought, water suppliers in southeastern Australia needed to get deep reductions in their CII customer use. This 90-minute webinar set to be held on May 6 at 4 p.m. Central time will feature the innovative program examples developed by City West Water.

Colorado Legislature Approves Phased-In Sale of WaterSense Labeled Water Fixtures 

watersense toiletMore states are seeking to improve water efficiency by reducing flush volumes and flow rates.  On April 4, the Colorado Legislature approved Senate Bill 103, phasing in the sale of WaterSense labeled water fixtures. Governor John Hickenlooper is expected to sign the bill into law in the coming weeks.

With this legislation, Colorado joins Georgia, Texas, and California in mandating that only high-efficiency, performance-tested fixtures be sold.  The goal of this type of legislation is to help ensure that new homes and businesses are built to be water efficient from the start and will save a significant volume of water over time.

The Colorado legislation was not without controversy, and failed to pass when first introduced in 2012.  Things changed in 2014 when organizations like the Alliance for Water Efficiency and water providers and professionals across Colorado signed on in support.  The measure is expected to save over 40,000 acre-feet of water in Colorado by 2050.

Download a fact sheet about the Colorado WaterSense legislation here

Download the final amended Colorado legislation, SB14-103, here

AWE Celebrates 20 Years of the Energy Policy Act

AWE_plumbing_final_low_res2014 marks a significant moment in recent water history: the 20th anniversary of the implementation of the U.S. Energy Policy Act, which mandated more water and energy efficient plumbing fixtures, including toilets, urinals, showerheads and faucets.

To celebrate 20 years of this watershed legislation, the Alliance for Water Efficiency examined the savings specifically from toilets required by the EPAct, and found that the power of combining plumbing and policy is clear. AWE estimates that the EPAct has saved the nation 18.2 trillion gallons of water through more efficient toilets, enough water to supply the cities of Los Angeles, Chicago and New York for 20 years.

The EPAct of 1992 required the installation of toilets that used no more than 1.6 gallons of water per flush, or 54% less water than the 3.5 gallons-per-flush toilets found prior to the legislation.

The estimated 18.2 trillion gallons represents cumulative water savings that have resulted from the use of more efficient toilets, which save an estimated 4.6 billion gallons of water each day. In addition, further water reductions have been achieved by high efficiency 1.28 gallons-per-flush EPA WaterSense labeled toilets. AWE promotes water conservation policies, programs and products to advance the sustainable and efficient use of water. This finding demonstrates the potential to achieve significant water savings through legislation that requires the use of more efficient technology.

Learn more about AWE's commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Energy Policy Act here

Revised Landscape BMPs Released by Irrigation Association and Partners 

Turf - HampdThe Irrigation Association (IA) and the American Society of Irrigation Consultants (ASIC) have released a new version of their Landscape Irrigation Best Management Practices. The updated guidelines incorporate feedback from irrigation designers, consultants, contractors and water managers to ensure the BMPs remain relevant in today’s market. Highlights include:

  • Three BMPs for landscape irrigation:
    • Design the irrigation system to efficiently use water resources.
    • Install the irrigation system to meet the design criteria.
    • Manage landscape water resources to maintain a healthy and functional landscape.
  • Practice guidelines for effective implementation and adapting the BMPs to local conditions.
  • Recommendations for evaluating potential irrigation water resources, including non-potable sources.
  • Appendices with information on system inspection and commissioning, irrigation scheduling, and water budgeting.

“We’ve included more discussion about considering all potential water resources that could be used for irrigation as an alternative to using potable water sources,” said IA Industry Development Director Brent Mecham. “We’ve also put greater emphasis on the important role water managers play in ensuring that systems are well maintained and that water resources are being used efficiently.”

The guidelines are directed primarily toward system owners, irrigation consultants, irrigation designers, contractors, water managers and irrigation system maintenance personnel.

Download the revised BMPs here

SWAT Check Valve Testing Protocol Released for Public Comment 

SWAT2.pngSmart Water Application Technologies (SWAT) has released Sprinkler Head Check Valve Testing Protocol Version 2.2. The check valve testing protocol specifies the performance requirements and test methods for sprinkler head check valves intended for operation in irrigation systems.  The protocol is open for a 30-day public comment period, with feedback due April 30.

Public comment forms are available on SWAT’s website.

Drought Update 

California - MWD Doubles Conservation and Outreach Budget  

MWDSC LogoThe Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) declared a Water Supply Alert at the end of March throughout the 5,200-square-mile service area as part of a series of steps to address the state's unprecedented dry conditions. This followed a declaration of drought in late January by Gov. Jerry Brown who asked Californians to lower their water use by 20 percent.

As part of this declaration, MWD’s conservation and outreach budget was doubled providing significant new incentives for both residential and commercial customers.  MWD offers incentives for water-efficient devices that include plumbing fixtures, landscape, food service, HVAC, medical and dental, and fitness center equipment.  Learn more about MWD’s offerings here

California – As Santa Barbara’s Reservoir Level Drops, Water Restrictions are Imposed 

With no end to the drought in sight, officials in Santa Barbara, California, have decided to impose more severe restrictions on water usage. The city council is expected to take up mandatory conservation, which would include banning certain outdoor water uses and raising the cost of water at higher usage.

The city's main source of water, Cachuma Lake, is now down to 39 percent of capacity.  Santa Barbara has been replenishing the lake by importing water via the California Aqueduct. But even that water is facing restrictions, so city officials are struggling to find alternatives.

One option, they say, is the revival of Santa Barbara’s long-retired desalination plant. But because desalination is a rather costly process, the city hopes that the new mandates will correct their water issues first. Desalination, they say, will be a last resort, done only after all other efforts fail. 

For now, Santa Barbara will focus its efforts on conservation. “Reducing landscape irrigation by replacing lawns with drought-tolerant plants remains a top priority,” said Alison Jordan, Santa Barbara's water conservation supervisor.  Learn more here

California – A New SF Bay Area Reservoir? 

Two House Democrats from California proposed legislation that would triple the size of Los Vaqueros, a reservoir that supplies water to Contra Costa Water District, east of the Bay Area.

The Contra Costa Times reports that the expansion would be completed in phases. How to add more storage capacity – whether by expanding old reservoirs, building new ones, or refilling aquifers – is a central debate in California this year during its worst-ever drought.

Texas – Dallas Residents Urged to Conserve 

Texas State FlagTexas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples visited Dallas in early April to urge residents to conserve water now or face the consequences.

“A few drops saved by 26 million Texans will go a long way toward saving water,” he told a gathering at the Dallas Regional Chamber of Commerce, “which goes a long way toward saving jobs, helping our economy and making certain that Texas can grow.”

Joining Staples were Frisco Mayor Maher Maso and Jim Parks, executive director of the North Texas Municipal Water District. They touted the Texas Water Smart initiative, a public-private education campaign geared toward curtailing wasteful water habits across Texas.

“We’re here with a message today that every Texan can do their part for water conservation,” said the agriculture commissioner, who spearheads the program.

About 1 in 4 of the state’s water supply entities are under voluntary or mandatory conservation methods, Staples said, and with Texas reservoirs only 65 percent full, many communities are coping with severe drought conditions.  Learn more here

Historic Release of Water to Colorado River Delta Celebrated on Both Sides of Border 

piesitos-photo-by-Jorge-FigeroaSenior officials of the United States and Mexico joined together to celebrate a historic first-time intentional release of water—called a “pulse flow”—from Morelos Dam near the U.S.-Mexico border. The water release—which began on March 23, reaches its peak in April and will continue until mid-May— is part of a broad package of joint cooperative treaty actions to ensure the Colorado River system is able to continue to meet the needs of both nations.

The United States and Mexico agreed to the water release as a result of joint efforts and investments in water conservation projects in accordance with “Minute 319,” a 2012 bi-national agreement adopted under the 1944 U.S.-Mexico Treaty framework for sharing the Colorado River water. All Lower Colorado River Basin users in the United States and Mexico will continue to receive their full allocations of Colorado River water in 2014.  Learn more here

Jorge Figeroa of Western Resource Advocates traveled to Mexico to observe and photograph the pulse flow event.  His blog describes jubilant celebrations and a festival-like atmosphere.  His photo "piesitos" (translated as "tootsies") shows some of the pulse flow celebrants.

Alliance for Water Stewardship Releases International Standard for Sustainable Freshwater Use 

The Alliance for Stewardship (AWS) has released the International Water Stewardship Standard version 1.0, the first global framework to promote sustainable freshwater use. The AWS Standard (version 1.0) can now be implemented to help to mitigate water risk and demonstrate action to address shared water challenges.

By focusing on targets in water governance, water balance, water quality and other important water-related areas, AWS hopes the Standard will help water-users understand the value of water, mitigate their water risks, and earn recognition for responsible water stewardship. The AWE Standard clearly defines criteria for good water stewardship and was designed to align with other sustainability initiatives and support independent certification with varying levels of recognition.

The AWS Standard will be supported by a verification program, to be completed in 2014, with varying levels of recognition and offering assurance for investors, owners and purchasers. AWS encourages sites to begin implementing today.

For more information, visit www.a4we.org/awslaunch.aspx  

Residential Clothes Washers - DOE Issues Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Update for Test Procedure 

The Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a Federal Register notice of proposed rulemaking regarding test procedures for residential clothes washers (April 11, 2014).

DOE’s rules specify how clothes washers are to be tested for energy and water consumption and other criteria.  Download a PDF of the proposed rulemaking update here

Plumber Sustainability Training Expands to Canada with Support from AWE     

GreenPlumbersLogo_WhiteBackgroundIn the fall of 2013, 128 Canadian licensed plumbers and apprentices took part in a pilot version of the Green Plumbers® USA program. They came from the Greater Toronto Area, Kitchener-Guelph-Waterloo, and the City of Vancouver to learn about a plumber’s role in urban water sustainability.;

Participants studied topics such as the water cycle, conservation programs, water audits, high-efficiency technology, rainwater harvesting and graywater. Through post-training evaluation surveys, focus groups, and a national phone survey of 200 randomly-selected plumbers, organizers learned about their attitudes and behaviors as they relate to sustainability.

The program was supported by AWE and our Canadian members and made possible by a grant AWE helped secure from the Royal Bank of Canada. Project management was provided by Econics, a BC-based company that specializes in urban water sustainability. Workshops were delivered by Doug Kirk, the lead trainer from Green Plumbers® USA, and Sam Steele, a plumbing instructor with Humber College in Toronto. Learn more here

Austin Water and Hilton Team Up to Explore Efficiency Opportunities 

hilton_austinThe Austin Hilton Hotel, located in the heart of downtown, is a busy place that had over 231,000 occupied rooms last year. The hotel recently teamed up with Austin Water to explore ways of making operations as water efficient as possible.

Spurred by the chance of winning the environmentally-focused 3C Business Challenge, Hilton management installed an ozone treatment laundry system for use with existing machines.  Ozone is a cleaning agent that can be injected directly into the incoming laundry water lines.  It safely removes dirt from linens by breaking down soil molecules more effectively than chlorine and other cleaning agents.  It is most effective when used in cold water, which drastically reduces energy demands for water heating for laundry facilities.

According to Austin Water, the Hilton’s laundry water use dropped by approximately 25% after the treatment system installation which saved enough water and energy to payback the investment in only one year.  Peak day water savings from the ozone treatment system for the four, 275 lb. washers was 8,320 gallons.  Combined peak day water and wastewater cost savings was over $108 per day or about $39,500 annually. This does not include the additional savings in energy costs and the $8,320 rebate from Austin Water for the ozone treatment system.

John Culp, Hilton’s facility engineer, said hotel staff reported increased life of linens, decreased use of cleaning chemicals and no chemical smell in towels and linens after washing. Taking the 3C Business Challenge also helped the Austin Hilton towards designation as a Green Business Leader and a WaterWise Hotel Partner.

The 3 “C”s of the 3C Business Challenge are “Commit, Calculate, and Conserve”.  Learn more about the 3C Business Challenge here

Are U.S. Businesses Water-Proof to Coming Challenges?  New Pacific Institute Report Investigates 

Pac-Inst-2014-bridging-concern-and-actionA new survey of major U.S. corporations released by the Pacific Institute and VOX Global, titled Bridging Concern with Action: Are US Companies Prepared for Looming Water Challenges?, reveals that most companies believe water challenges will significantly worsen in the next five years. However, the majority of companies surveyed do not appear to be planning corollary increases in the breadth and scale of their water risk Management practices. In fact, nearly 70 percent of responding companies said their current level of investment in water management is sufficient.

In an attempt to gain insight on corporate perceptions of risks associated with water issues and plans to address these challenges, the Pacific Institute and VOX Global surveyed over 50 companies, the majority Fortune 500 and publicly traded, representing virtually every industry sector.  In addition to an online survey, in-depth interviews were conducted with senior officials who have direct responsibility for water issues from companies including: AT&T, Cummins, Inc., The Hershey Company, Miller-Coors, and Union Pacific Railroad.

Nearly 60 percent of responding companies indicated that water is poised to negatively affect business growth and profitability within five years, while more than 80 percent said it will affect their decision on where to locate facilities. This is a stark increase from only five years ago, when water issues affected business growth and profitability for less than 20 percent of responding companies.

Ohio Senate Passes Bill Banning LEED from State Construction 

OhioThe Ohio Senate has approved a bill which would ban the use of LEED v4 in Ohio.   Supporters of the measure believe that only green building rating systems, codes and standards developed by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), which includes a stakeholder process, should be used to implement state energy efficiency and environmental performance objectives.

The legislation was introduced is in response to the U.S. Green Building Council's (USGBC) fourth version of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards, LEED v4, which eliminates the use of certain building materials impacting Ohio industries.

Josh Young of the American Chemical Council was the first of the proponents to testify when the bill was heard by the Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee. He said his organization and its members are supporters of energy efficiency, and that until LEED v4 came out, their products have been the building materials for all LEED-certified buildings.

He called the new LEED standards "ironic," and said LEED v4 stepped into "chemical regulation" and created credits for "chemicals of avoidance" that target products made in Ohio, and therefore threatens jobs in the very industry LEED was created to support.

It is uncertain if the bill has enough support to pass the Ohio House of Representatives.  Learn more about this legislation here

Lawns Can Be “Trained” To Conserve Water and Survive Drought 

Lawns may have a reputation for being excessively thirsty, but spring preparation will develop deep, drought resistant roots that use less of our precious water resources. Factors like the soil type, grass type, the amount of sun or shade, and the time of year all affect how a lawn should be watered.  Deep roots are a secret to drought tolerance.

Colorado horticultural expert and NPR commentator, Tom Throgmorton explains how to get your lawn to flourish in a dry climate

One of Tom’s tips: Soaking the root zone to a depth of 6 inches will train your lawn to use less water. Be sure to keep the soil moist but not saturated. It will take some experimentation to figure out how much water your soil requires to be moist. In the end your grass will have deeper, drought tolerant roots.   

Irish Water Rate Fix: Households to Pay a Third of Annual Bill at Fixed Rate 

IrishWaterLogoResidents in Ireland will have to pay a basic water charge of up to €100 ($138 US) as

Irish Water hopes to soon apply a fixed charge of one-third of the expected average €300 ($414) water bill with the remaining two thirds coming from variable charges the Irish Independent reports

Under the proposal, Irish Water, a new state company tasked with running water system, would be ensured a guaranteed revenue stream regardless of water use.  The proposal includes an overall 33 percent rate increase with is likely to be controversial with some describing it as a “tax” rather than an incentive to conserve water.

As with electricity and gas bills, the water bill fixed charge component is designed to cover the cost of the meter, providing the supply and customer services.  The proposal must be approved by Ireland’s Commission for Energy Regulation.

Read more about the proposed changes to water rates and changes in Ireland here.                                  

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.