Water Efficiency Watch is the online newsletter of the
Alliance for Water Efficiency, edited by Peter Mayer.
In this issue of Water Efficiency Watch...
Senate Joins the House in Authorizing a WaterSense® Program at EPA
Ten years after its launch, the WaterSense® program may
finally be official. U.S. Senate has
joined the House in authorizing a WaterSense® program at the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) to identify products and services that conserve water
and promote stormwater management.
This would be the first formal authorization for the program. Although there is no funding now associated
with the measure, Congressional authorization is nonetheless the first step in
securing additional program funding for the future.
How did this finally happen?
Senate approval of a broad,
bipartisan energy efficiency bill included an amendment creating a
WaterSense® program sponsored by Sen. Tom Udall, D-NM, and five other senators.
The Senate bill now must be reconciled with a House-passed energy bill that
includes a similar WaterSense® authorization. Agreement on a compromise bill is
expected before June.
The Alliance for Water Efficiency has
been a key backer of the WaterSense® program since its inception in 2006. EPA
has operated WaterSense® under the discretionary authority of the EPA
administrator, but the program has never been formally recognized by Congress.
The House and Senate bills would for the first time establish a formal
WaterSense promotes water conservation through
voluntary labeling of products and services that reduce water use and the
strain on water stems and wastewater or stormwater infrastructure EPA estimates
that WaterSense has helped consumers save a cumulative 1.1 trillion gallons of
water and more than $21.7 billion in water and energy bills since it was established
10 years ago.
Residential End Uses
of Water, Version 2 Released
indoor water use has declined substantially, particularly in the volume used
for washing clothes and flushing toilets according to the new Residential End
Uses of Water, Version 2 released by the Water Research Foundation. The new study is a companion piece to the
classic 1999 Residential End Uses of Water and like that study was prepared by
a consulting team lead by William DeOreo and Peter Mayer.
Average indoor per capita water use reduced from an average
of 69.3 gpcd in the 1999 study to 58.6 gpcd, a 15% reduction or approximately
1% per year. Most of the reduction has
come from clothes washers and toilets, but other categories like dish washer
also showed reductions.
“It’s impressive to see the impact high-efficiency clothes
washers are having in North American households,” Mayer said. “In the 1999
study the average clothes washer used more than 41 gallons per load. In the 2016 study the average was 31 gallons
per load and we know many washers on the market today use 20 gallons per load
or less. Furthermore, people are not
doing more loads of wash as the machines have gotten more efficient.”
Mayer also noted that the average toilet flush volume
reduced from 3.65 gal. to 2.6 gal. per flush in the 2016 study. “There is still additional room for future
water savings by reducing flush volumes,” Mayer said. “The data also show that toilet flushing frequency
has not increased, so in fact people are not flushing their water efficient
toilets any more often than the old ones.”
free Executive Report summarizing key findings from the study is available
here. To get a copy of the full
report or the accompanying end uses of water database, you must be a member of
the Water Research
River Negotiations Underway
Secretive negotiations about the future of Lake Mead and
water use in the lower Colorado River basins are underway. According to a
report in the Arizona Daily Star, Arizona, California and Nevada
negotiators along with the Federal Bureau of Reclamation and other water users
are moving toward a major agreement triggering cuts in Colorado River water
deliveries to Southern and Central Arizona in hopes of averting more severe
cuts in the future.
As presently envisioned, cuts would be shared by all
three states including California. This is surprising; since the late 1960s,
the legal requirement established has been for the Central Arizona Project to relinquish
all its supply during shortages, before California loses any.
Negotiations of this nature are sensitive and agreement
has not been reached, but it appears water officials are convinced cuts are
necessary due to the continued drop in the level of Lake Mead over the past 16
years due to drought. If approved, such
an agreement would represent a significant shift in approach towards the Lake
Mead structural deficit.
If cuts are necessary, Arizona
Department of Water Resources director Tom Buschatzke says his state is
prepared. Arizona has banked millions
of acre feet underground in anticipation of just such a situation as the
current drought conditions present.
Transport Study Released
The Plumbing Efficiency Research Coalition (PERC) has
released the Phase 2.1 supplemental report on the drainline transport of solid
waste in building drains. The Phase 2.1 report details the findings from
additional work the Coalition was able to conduct using remaining funds carried
over from the PERC 2.0 research study.
The Drainline Transport of Solid Waste in Buildings –
Phase 2.0 was originally released in September of 2015. The PERC 2.1 findings
appear as a new appendix to the PERC 2.0 report, and the combined reports are
available for download free of charge on the PERC website.
PERC was formed in 2009 through a Memorandum of
Understanding (MOU) to develop research projects that support the development
of water efficiency and sustainable plumbing products, systems, and practices.
PERC identified drainline transport as its first research project. The six
members of the coalition are represented by: Mary Ann Dickinson, Alliance for
Water Efficiency (AWE); Billy Smith, American Society of Plumbing Engineers
(ASPE); Peter DeMarco, International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical
Officials (IAPMO); Fred Grable, International Code Council (ICC); Michael Copp,
Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors National Association (PHCC); and Barbara
C. Higgens, Plumbing Manufacturers International (PMI).
The Phase 2.1 supplemental report focuses on two
previously unaddressed areas of study — the implications surrounding dual flush
toilet discharge patterns, comparing results to single volume flush toilets of
comparable flush volume, and on the impact of drainline slope deviations on the
transport of solid waste.
“The PERC Phase 2.1 provides new and useful information
for the plumbing trades, engineers, designers, code officials, water efficiency
experts, and manufacturers,” said IAPMO’s DeMarco, who acted as technical
director for all of the PERC drainline transport studies.
Leaves California Thirsty for More
El Nino delivered a bit, but did not bring the heavy snows
California dreamed of last Fall, and warm temperatures have melted snow faster
than ever according to climatologists. Throughout
late March and into April, much of the West experienced unseasonably warm
days. Then, in late April, temperatures plummeted in Southwest Colorado’s
San Juan Mountains and more than 2 feet of wet, heavy spring snow fell.
Suddenly, ski boots were out again and for a day or two, it felt like
winter was back.
But those storms have only helped just a fraction of the West, with much
of the moisture buoying snowpack levels along the Eastern Rockies in
Colorado and Wyoming. Meanwhile, the rest of the region is on the opposite
trajectory, losing snowpack at record-breaking rates.
At the beginning of April, snowpack levels across the region were
“near normal,” says Cara McCarthy, deputy director for the National Water
and Climate Center in Portland, under the Natural Resource
Conservation Service. The season was off to a slow start with sporadic
storms in October through December, but January winter precipitation
increased levels across all states, according to NRCS SNOTEL sites, which
measures snow depth at thousands of stations nationwide. For months, most
of the region hung on to above-normal snowpack measurements.
But in just the few short weeks since then, that snow
is melting faster than climate hydrologists have seen in nearly four
decades, bringing the snowpack far /below/ normal in most states in
For states already struggling with dwindling water, the quick retreat
of snowpack may affect how much water resource managers can store in
nearby reservoirs. For California, in its fifth year of drought, this
season has been a bit of a rollercoaster. In January, snowpack
readings increased to 127 percent of normal (up from 90 percent in
December) — good news for a state where 30 percent of the water supply is
dependent on snow.
But now California’s
three most crucial basins for the state’s water supply are far below
normal: The Northern Sierra is at only 66 percent normal for late
April, Central Sierra is at 64 percent of normal and the Southern Sierra
is at 49. “This should be a bit of a wake-up call for water resource
managers,” McCarthy says.
has been a major factor in the accelerated melting, although
minimal snowfall has also played a role. According to the NRCS and
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, much of the Pacific
Northwest, California, Idaho and Montana have experienced abnormally
high temperatures between the beginning throughout April — in some places
departing from historical averages by as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit.
Colorado and parts of New Mexico and Arizona have been more or less
Conservation Program Grants Available
For the first time, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is
participating with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation as well as the Central
Arizona Project, the Metropolitan Water District of
Southern California and Southern Nevada Water Authority in the
Innovative Conservation Program (ICP). The program, which also includes
Southern California Gas Co., seeks to advance water-saving efforts by
finding new and innovative methods for using supplies more efficiently.
This year's $500,000 ICP cycle focuses on water-saving
devices, technologies and strategy proposals that address the water/energy
nexus. Awards will be made in two funding categories: up to $30,000 and between
$30,000 and $100,000. Proposals that address other aspects of water-use
efficiency also will be considered. All
proposals are due May 23. Learn more here.
AWWA issues water
audit challenge for World Water Day
At the White House Water Summit in
Washington, D.C., on World Water Day, the American Water Works Association
announced a challenge to its member water utilities and others across the globe
to complete 1,000 water audits over the next two years using AWWA's newest
Water Audit Software.
Water audits allow utilities to become more efficient by showing how much water
is lost through leaking distribution pipes and highlighting other potential
concerns, such as faulty meters or billing problems. Understanding the scope of
water loss within a water system sets the stage for introducing innovative and
“A water audit is the first step to a successful water loss control program,”
said AWWA CEO David LaFrance, who attended the White House event. “By accepting
this challenge, utilities will demonstrate their commitment to efficient
business practices and excellent stewardship of our most precious natural
The White House Water Summit, which took place on World Water Day, raised
awareness of the national importance of water and highlights new commitments
and announcements that the Obama Administration and non-federal institutions
are making to build a sustainable water future.
The Alliance for Water Efficiency was also an invited participant.
Utilities that participate in the AWWA challenge will be able to access the
Association’s Water Loss Audit Software version 5.0, a free
tool that was recently updated to support audits for water systems of
all sizes. In addition to completing an audit, AWWA is challenging utilities to
report their findings on AWWA's website, to their governing boards, and to the
customers they serve.
“All of us have a role in encouraging efficient use of water,” LaFrance said.
“From those who manage water resources, to agricultural water users, to the
utilities, to consumers, we can all take steps to use water efficiently and
Summit June 9 at the Denver Botanic Gardens
Watershed Summit is designed to bring together water experts and
the next generation of water leaders from across the region. Attendees
will help develop the dialogue around current water issues and practical
solutions for addressing them.
Building on the success of last year’s inaugural event in
Boulder County, the 2016 Watershed Summit is being elevated to a
state-wide event through a collaborative partnership between the Colorado Water
Conservation Board, Denver Water, the City of Boulder, the One World One
Water Center, Center for ReSource Conservation and the Denver Botanic Gardens.
This year’s focus on “Water Is Your Business” seeks to
add new voices to the discussion, introduce innovative ideas, and break
down silos. The goal is to bring local influence to global issues. Learn
more and register for this free, but limited space event here.
Conservation Division Social - Chicago
The Alliance for
Water Efficiency and the AWWA Water Conservation Division are hosting a social
on June 20, 2016 during the AWWA Annual Conference in Chicago. The popular
annual social will be held at the Haymarket Microbrewery in downtown Chicago.
All Water Professionals working in water efficiency and conservation, water loss,
and water resource and sustainability planning are welcome to attend! Admission is $15 per person. Get
your tickets and more information here.
Kohler Co. and San
Francisco Public Utilities Commission Support Mobile, Efficient Showers for the
In 2012, Lava Mae founder Doniece Sandoval sought a
creative solution to provide showers and better access to hygiene for the 3,500
men, women and children who live on the streets of San Francisco. Two years
later, Lava Mae launched an innovative initiative that takes retired public
transportation buses and converts them into mobile hygiene units for the
homeless. The organization now helps approximately 200 people shower weekly,
and is in the process of adding another bus to their fleet.
Two AWE partners, Kohler Co. and San Francisco Public
Utilities Commission (SFPUC), have joined forces with Lava Mae to provide this
service in the most water-efficient way. The initiative has considered water
efficiency as an objective since the outset.
“When you’re trying to give showers to a large number of
people, that objective must go hand in hand with water efficiency,” said Lava
Mae Mobile Services Manager Michael Morrow.
Kohler Co. provided a suite of efficient fixtures and
appliances, including their Highline Pressure Lite toilets and Awaken
showerheads and hand showers, which all meet EPA WaterSense standards. They also
contributed the DTV Prompt Shower Interface with water-saving mode, which can
be configured to only allow one spray to function at a time and can be
programmed to limit shower time. This allows the Lava Mae team to provide a
dignified experience to guests without using excessive amounts of water. Lava
Mae aims for a limit of 10 minutes or less with each guest, as some guests need
10 minutes or more due to physical disabilities.
Rob Zimmerman, Senior Manager for Sustainability at
Kohler Co. stated, “Kohler was happy to support Lave Mae because we know how to
create a rejuvenating showering experience. To be able to help provide that to
those in need was very meaningful. And to demonstrate that such experiences can
be delivered efficiently was a bonus.”
Lava Mae partnered with SFPUC to procure their water from
fire hydrants, and uses a SFPUC-issued water meter to track and pay for water
use. SFPUC was able to provide information about water budgeting, usage data,
and efficiency strategies to maximize Lava Mae’s conservation goals. Finally,
SFPUC worked with Lava Mae around permitting and creative solutions for
wastewater management, including establishing disposal locations. Tanks under
the bus store black water, which is disposed of safely at an easily accessible
SFPUC location, allowing them to maximize the number of clients they
“Our partnership with Lava Mae reflects our Agency’s
efforts to be a good neighbor in the communities we serve,” said Kay Fernandez
Smith, Director of Community Benefits & Social Responsibility at SFPUC.
“There is a clear nexus between these types of partnerships, our commitment to
sustainability, and our mission of providing high quality water and sewer
Looking to the future, Lava Mae is working on ways to
educate users during their experience about their water use, such as using
lighting or musical cues informing them of how long they’ve been in the shower
or how much water they’ve used.
America’s Water: Infrastructure in Peril What to do, how to fix
it, and how to finance it