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’s 2013 Water Star: Doug Bennett 

2013_waterstar_doug_bennett_cropThe Alliance for Water Efficiency awarded its prestigious 2013 Water Star award to Doug Bennett, Conservation Manager at Southern Nevada Water Authority.  The award was conferred at a lunchtime awards ceremony on Bennett’s home turf in Las Vegas, Nevada at the WaterSmart Innovations conference – an event he created.  AWE recognized Bennett for his accomplishments in water conservation that go far beyond creating North America’s most popular water efficiency conference, in itself a significant achievement.

“As the Conservation Manager, Doug Bennett oversees one of the most comprehensive water conservation programs in the United States, one that has saved over 29 billion gallons annually since 2002,” said Mary Ann Dickinson, President and CEO of the Alliance for Water Efficiency, in presenting the award. 

“Doug and his staff have created a comprehensive set of programs that have reduced per capita consumption  in Las Vegas from 314 gpcd to 219 gpcd,” Dickinson said.  “Consumptive water use in his district has declined significantly since 2002, despite the influx of 400,000 new residents and nearly 40 million annual visitors during that same time span.”

The AWE Water Star Award is an award intended to recognize individual excellence in water efficiency. Through this award, AWE hopes to celebrate successful water conservation practitioners, working to make an important difference through dedication, passion, and progressive approaches. Water Star award winners receive this recognition not because they apply for the award, but because their peers around them recognize the value of their significant contribution and achievements over time and their quiet dedication to the cause.

Past recipients of the AWE Water Star Award include: John Flowers of the U.S. EPA (2009); George Kunkel of the Philadelphia Water Department (2010); Bill Maddaus of Maddaus Water Management (2011); and Karen Guz of the San Antonio Water System (2012).

Some of Doug Bennett’s accomplishments that were recognized at the award ceremony include:

  • Establishing and hosting the annual WaterSmart Innovations Conference & Exposition in partnership with the U.S. EPA and other leading national and international organizations.
  • Issuing rebates to more than 2,000 residents for replacing irrigation clocks with more efficient controllers, creating a savings of more than 134 million gallons of water.
  • Conducting over 100,000 water waste investigations for customers, and assessing more than $1 million in fees to repeat offenders.
  • Adopting local landscape development codes that strictly regulate turf and landscape design in new residential construction and also commercial properties.
  • Establishing the Water Efficient Technologies Program which offers financial incentives to commercial and multifamily property owners who install water-efficient devices. 
  • Creating a landscape transformation program that has paid customers to remove more than 165 million square feet of turf.
  • An unexplained passion for the Cincinnati Bengals.

Congratulations Doug Bennett, the Alliance for Water Efficiency’s 2013 Water Star award winner.

WaterSense Awards Honor Utilities and Businesses Large and Small 

WaterSense LogoThe 2013 WaterSense Partners of the Year and Excellence Award winners were announced at the WaterSense and Alliance for Water Efficiency Awards Luncheon held at the WaterSmart Innovations Conference and Expo in Las Vegas in October.

Hosted by AWE CEO, Mary Ann Dickinson, the WaterSense Partner of the Year and Excellence Awards acknowledge people and organizations who helped WaterSense meet their objectives and who supported their campaigns. 

 This years’ award winners included:

John Taylor - Irrigation Partner of the Year
  • Excellence in Promoting WaterSense Labeled Products – awarded to the City of Boulder, Colorado, Public Works/Utilities. Accepted by Water Conservation Program Supervisor Russ Sands.
  • Excellence in Strategic Collaboration – awarded to the Colorado Springs Utilities. Accepted by Water Conservation Manager, Ann Seymour.
  • Excellence in Outreach and Education – awarded to the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin. Accepted by Denise Schmidt, Water Conservation Coordinator for the Commission.
  • Excellence in Outreach and Education – awarded to the Town of Sharon, Massachusetts who did not send a representative to the ceremony.
  • Excellence in Promotion – awarded to the Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership. Accepted by Carrie Pollard, Principal Programs Specialist for the partnership.
  • Excellence Award for construction of affordable WaterSense labeled homes – awarded to Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver who did not send a representative to the ceremony.
  • 2013 Promotional Partner of the Year – awarded to the Athens-Clarke County Public Utilities Department. Accepted by Marilyn Hall, Water Conservation Coordinator.
  • 2013 Large Manufacturer Partner of the Year – awarded to the Delta Faucet Company. Accepted by Paul Patton, Senior R & D/Regulatory Manager.
  • 2013 Small Manufacturer Partner of the Year – awarded to the Niagara Conservation Corp. Accepted by President, Bill Cutler.
  • 2013 Retail Partner of the Year – awarded to The Home Depot.  Accepted by Ron Jarvis, Vice President for Environmental Innovation.
  • 2013 Builder Partner of the Year – awarded to KB Home. Accepted by Jacob Atalla, Sr. Director of Sustainability and Rob McGibney, President, KB Home Las Vegas Division.
  • 2013 Professional Certifying Organization Partner of the Year – awarded to the Irrigation Association.  Accepted by Bob Dobson, President of the Irrigation Association.
  • 2013 Irrigation Partner of the Year – awarded to John Taylor who in accepting the award delivered a rousing acceptance speech noting that the irrigation industry must do more for water conservation in the future.
  • 2013 Sustained Excellence Award – awarded to Kohler Co.  Accepted by Rob Zimmerman, Senior Channel Manager of Sustainability.
  • 2013 Sustained Excellence Award – awarded to Lowe’s Companies, Inc.  Accepted by Robert Sottile, Manager of the Lowe’s Henderson, Nevada store.

Conferencing in Las Vegas: WaterSmart Innovations 2013 in Review 

By Peter Mayer 

South-Point-Resort-Las-VegasFor six years is a row, water conservation professionals have been gathering in early October at the South Point Hotel in Las Vegas for the WaterSmart Innovations conference (WSI). For six years in a row attendees have been treated to a four day feast of information, networking, food, drink, and camaraderie that have come to characterize WSI. For six years in a row, the Southern Nevada Water Authority staff, led by 2013 AWE Water Star award winner Doug Bennett, have put on the best water efficiency event in North America.  If you haven’t been to WSI, mark your calendar for Oct. 7 – 10, 2014; if you have been to WSI then you know what I’m talking about.

For me, WSI 2013 started on Tues. Oct. 1 with a full day of AWE committee meetings culminating in AWE’s annual member meeting and reception with featured speaker Elizabeth "Liz" Fazio, Director for the Committee on Natural Resources, Texas House of Representatives.  Fazio discussed the water supply situation in Texas and the passage of the landmark Texas legislation that (pending voter approval) will award $400 million for water conservation and reuse programs in the state.  The AWE meetings are a great way to catch up on what’s going on nationally in water efficiency and to provide input into Alliance programs and activities.

The conference kicked into high gear on Weds. Oct. 2 as Pat Mulroy delivered what could be her final speech at the conference.  Mulroy plans to retire as General Manager of SNWA in the coming year.  Kim Marotta, Director of Sustainability at MillerCoors delivered a fascinating keynote address that outlined her company’s largely successful efforts to reduce the water required to brew beer.  After her speech, attendees strolled to the exhibit hall to check out the latest in water efficiency technologies and services, network with colleagues, and to see more than 20 poster presentations.  Professional sessions began in the afternoon and WSI’s eight presentation rooms were packed with people hoping to learn about topics ranging from codes and policy to water loss control audits to conservation policy in the wake of natural disaster.

Julie_S_winner_#showusyoursheetA highlight of WSI 2013 was AWE’s entertaining #showusyoursheep competition that encouraged conference participants to get a free toy rubber sheep from the AWE booth and to tweet out photos of the sheep from the conference and around Las Vegas.  The sheep and ensuing photos started hundreds of conversations and elicited peals of laughter throughout the event.

On Friday morning, Rain Bird screened the “Best of” the Intelligent Use of Water Film Competition winners to an appreciative audience.  The films are entertaining and creative, and sadly this will likely be the last year of this event as Rain Bird is no longer organizing the competition.  Many of the best films from the competition can be viewed online here.

The conference closed on Friday with a series of panel discussions on key topics including rainwater harvesting, turf replacement, conservation-oriented water rates, and the Colorado River basin followed by tours of water-related attractions such as Hoover Dam and the Las Vegas Springs Preserve.

After six years, WaterSmart Innovations remains a vibrant and engaging event housed in an all-to-familiar, but entirely affordable venue that is well suited to the group.  I already have the dates blocked off for the 7th edition of WSI in 2014.

AWE Leads Rapid Response to Paul’s Proposal to Trash National Plumbing Efficiency Standards  

congressOn Thurday September 12, AWE learned of an amendment filed by Senator Rand Paul to S. 1392, The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2013, which would repeal the plumbing efficiency standards that have been in place in the United States since 1992.  The amendment was originally scheduled for action in the Senate the following Monday, September 16. 

Within hours, AWE produced an opposition letter that was signed by 44 organizations over the weekend, and delivered to Senator Paul and the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee.  Because of the government shutdown, no action has been taken on Paul’s amendment, but AWE stands ready to oppose this action if and when it emerges again.  There is now knowledgeable opposition to Paul’s amendment on the Senate committee. 

Energy-Water Nexus is Focus of New AWE and ACEEE Report 

A new report from the American Council for an Energy Efficiency Economy (ACEEE) and the Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE) identifies ways utilities can run efficiency programs to save both water and energy.

Water and energy are inherently linked, intersecting at both the supply side (electric generation and water/wastewater facilities) and the end-use side (residential, commercial, industrial, and agriculture sectors). This intersection is commonly called the “energy-water nexus.”

The report describes how the water-energy linkage means that efficiency programs operated by a water utility will benefit an energy utility and vice versa. Some energy efficiency programs have begun to address and account for water savings, and conversely some water programs have begun to account for energy savings impacts, but this has occurred only in a patchwork of programs across the country.

The report suggests that greater efficiency could be gained from recognition of the energy-water nexus in program delivery and accounting practices and better understanding and coordination between the two communities. This report provides recommendations on program models and frameworks that utilities can use to save both water and energy.  Download a copy of this new report here. 

WaterSense Updates Professional Certification Programs 

The Environmental Protection Agency recently released the Draft WaterSense Professional Certification Program Labeling System. It also issued three revised specifications for professional certification programs, and applications for professional certification programs to apply for the WaterSense label.

These changes create a common set of requirements that streamline the WaterSense program specifications. Within these documents are changes to the WaterSense irrigation partnership program.

 The EPA is proposing to modify how WaterSense engages with irrigation professionals by removing the WaterSense partnership designation for individuals certified through WaterSense-labeled programs. They plan to expand program benefits to all professionals certified through labeled programs.

DOE Issues Final Rule for Plumbing Products Test Procedures 

DOE LogoThe Department of Energy has issued a pre-publication Federal Register final rule regarding test procedures for showerheads, faucets, water closets, urinals, and commercial pre-rinse spray valves.

Study: Water Systems Deteriorating Despite Rate and Debt Increases 

Increase-chart-graphUrban water systems in America continue to deteriorate, despite 10 years of rate increases and increased debt, according to a new study from researchers at ColumbiaUniversity's Water Center in New York.

The average debt of municipal water systems in the United States increased by 33 percent from 2000 through 2010, and consumers paid 23 percent more in rates on average over the same period, according to the study. The nation's biggest water utilities are the primary drivers, the study found, as they attempt to cope with rising costs and infrastructure debt while federal funding for water infrastructure has begun to dry up.

"It will be difficult for many utilities to raise rates high enough to pay down existing levels of debt," said Upmanu Lall, the center's director, in a statement. This could pose serious problems for water utilities in the future.

The American Water Works Association estimated in 2011 that drinking water systems need $1 trillion to replace more than one million miles of aging pipes underneath the nation's streets over the next 25 years.

The Columbia study analyzed factors that are driving variability in water rates around the country - including water source, utility size, population and climate - and their impact on debt and operating expenses.  The researchers found that small water systems had the highest operating expenses, and that large utilities are the most likely to cover their costs through rates despite having more debt.

Florida sues Georgia over water use from Chattahoochee, Flint Rivers 

 Florida GeorgiaSome interstate contests can’t be settled on the gridiron. In a dramatic move, Florida is taking its battle for water with Georgia to the U.S. Supreme court.  Florida moved forward with a lawsuit against the state of Georgia accusing its northern neighbor of consuming too much fresh water from a river system that serves three Southeastern states, including Alabama.

 The legal action filed directly with the U.S. Supreme Court is an escalation in a legal dispute lasting more than two decades.

 The suit asks the high court to take dramatic steps, including capping Georgia's overall water use at levels existing in 1992. Florida also wants a special master to enter a decree that would "equitably" divide the waters in the basin of the Apalachicola, Chattahoochee and Flint rivers.

 "The situation is dire and the need for relief immediate," states Florida's lawsuit, which maintains Georgia is on pace to double its current consumption levels by 2040.

 Florida Governor Rick Scott (R) decided to push ahead with the lawsuit following the near-collapse of the oyster industry in Apalachicola Bay and after federal officials declared a fishery disaster for oystermen on the Gulf Coast. Oysters need a mix of fresh and salt water in order to thrive.

 "Georgia has refused to fairly share the waters that flow between our two states, so to stop Georgia's unmitigated consumption of water we have brought the matter before the U.S. Supreme Court," Scott said in a statement.

 Brian Robinson, a spokesman for Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R), blasted the lawsuit as "political theatre and nothing more."

 "The only 'unmitigated consumption' going on around here is Florida's waste of our tax dollars on a frivolous lawsuit," Robinson said. "Florida is receiving historically high water flows at the state line this year, but it needs a bogeyman to blame for its poor management of Apalachicola Bay."

 Learn more here. 

New “eGuide” Seeks to Influence WaterSmart Lifestyle Choices 

watersmart-eguide-sdcwaSan Diego County residents now have a versatile and comprehensive interactive mobile resource for indoor and outdoor water conservation available at their fingertips wherever they go.

The San Diego County Water Authority recently published its “eGuide to a WaterSmart Lifestyle” to inspire, educate and empower homeowners to make water-efficient choices in their homes and gardens. The mobile, interactive guide is designed to reduce the obstacles between discovering interesting ideas – online, at a friend’s house or in a store – and turning them into reality.

The free, 140-page digital flipbook reflects San Diego County’s Mediterranean climate, along with its active, high-tech lifestyle. It includes interactive features that allow users to share ideas on Facebook, electronically “pin” plant and garden photos for their followers, watch videos, and scroll through a library of eye-popping images. The online magazine includes plant finders, interactive maps, animated graphics, home and garden calculators, landscape design tools, and details about rebates and incentives. Each subject is fully linked to online resources, allowing users to quickly access additional information.

Learn more about the eGuide to WaterSmart Lifestyle Choices here.

Toilet Manufacturing Slowing Returning to North America 

Kohler Toilet (sm)The Wall Street Journal reported on a new trend in toilet manufacturing in North America.  After decades of losing out to foreign rivals, U.S. manufacturing of toilets is making a surprising, if modest, comeback---mostly under international ownership. There are just seven toilet plants in the U.S. today, down from 48 in the late 1970s.

 "The days of chasing cheap labor around the world are coming to an end," said William Strang, head of the operations division for Toto in the Americas. Toto is reducing trans-Pacific shipments and relying more on U.S. and Mexican plants for its sales in North America.

 Making toilets requires lots of manual labor---"very much like making pottery," as one industry executive puts it. That is why most production moved over the past two decades to lower-cost countries, mostly China and Mexico.

 Three-quarters of the 10.6 million residential and commercial toilets sold in the U.S. last year were imports, estimates Victor Post, vice president of GMP Research Inc., a research firm based in South Carolina.

 The biggest U.S. toilet suppliers are Kohler Co., with an estimated 24% of the U.S. market, followed by American Standard, 18%; Toto, 9%, and Mansfield, 8%, according to GMP.

 Kohler has kept three U.S. toilet plants---in Kohler, Wis.; Brownsville, Texas, and Spartanburg, S.C. - and runs a large plant in Monterrey, Mexico. Many smaller U.S. suppliers moved all their production outside the U.S.

Learn more and read the full article here. 

Reducing Lead in Plumbing Fixtures Could Increase Prices 

Hardware store owners say a federal safe drinking water regulation that will soon take effect means higher prices for some plumbing materials and supplies.

 The new regulation which takes effect Jan. 4 requires all products that come in contact with drinking water to have a maximum lead content of 0.25 percent. It includes every component of water distribution and treatment, from the filtration plant to plumbing fixtures.

 "I have no idea how they're going to enforce this," said Paul Wippler, who owns Czarnetzki Hardware Hank in St. Cloud, Minnesota. "From our end, our wholesalers started shifting over a year ago to lead-free fittings and faucets……It extends to aerators on kitchen sinks, everything."

 A faucet aerator, for example, that now costs $2.49 will cost $5.99 once the new lead-free products are required, said Wippler.

 It is important to note that these price increases are coming as a result of the lead regulation, and not because of water efficiency improvements.

 Learn more here. 

Poll: Californians Want Water Fixes, But Not Enough to Pay for Them 

CaliforniaAccording to a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll, Californians say the state's water supply system has serious problems that require improvement, but they are unwilling to spend billions of dollars in ratepayer and taxpayer funds on the task.

These poll results indicate a tough election cycle for proponents of a state water bond and for a proposal to re-engineer the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the transfer point for Northern California supplies delivered to the San Joaquin Valley and urban Southern California.

Reluctance to pay for big public works projects was reflected throughout the poll, which also questioned voters on the California prison system and the high-speed rail project.

Learn more here. 

 Watershed Stresses Likely to Intensify: New Study 

Yellowstone-RiverNearly one in 10 U.S. watersheds is “stressed,” with demand for water exceeding natural supply, according to a new analysis of surface water in the United States.  What’s more, the lowest water flow seasons of recent years—times of great stress on rivers, streams, and sectors that use their waters—are likely to become typical as climates continue to warm.

“By midcentury, we expect to see less reliable surface water supplies in several regions of the United States,” said the study’s lead author, Kristen Averyt, associate director for science at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at the University of Colorado Boulder. “This is likely to create growing challenges for agriculture, electrical suppliers and municipalities, as there may be more demand for water and less to go around.”

Averyt and her colleagues evaluated supplies and demands on freshwater resources for each of the 2,103 watersheds in the continental United States, using a large suite of existing data sets.

Learn more here.  

AWE Book Sale Continues  

Book ClipArtAWE is offering some water classics at steeply reduced prices including the classic Handbook of Water Use and Water Conservation by Amy Vickers for just $65.  Other sale books include, A Practical Approach to Water Conservation for Commercial Industrial Facilities, by Mohan Seneviratne, and Dry Run by Jerry Yudelson.  Get your copies of these and other water classics at a great price here.

News Briefs and Web Links 

  • New Water Conservation Standard Provides Program Yardstick - There's a new way to determine if a water utility's water conservation efforts are up to snuff. The new G480-13 Water Conservation Program Operation and Management Standard from the American Water Works Association is a voluntary standard that can be adopted by water providers at their own discretion to demonstrate commitment to proven demand management practices.  AWE is participating in its dissemination.  Order yours now.
  • National Value of Water Campaign Launched - A new national campaign from Value of Water Coalition aims to educate the public on the importance of clean, safe and reliable water to and from every home and community, and to help ensure quality water service for future generations.
  • Automatic Commercial Ice Makers Test Procedures: DOE Issues Final Guidance - Access the guidance regarding temporary baffles here.  Access the guidance regarding automatic purge water control here. 
  • Water Fund Transfer Options Reviewed - Water rate increases can become more controversial when there is the perception that the related increase in revenue is going to fund government activities other than water service.  New research from the UNC Environmental Finance Center tackles this issue. 
  • Texas Aquifer Legal Battle Proceeds – The Texas Supreme Court will hear an appeal in the case: Edwards Aquifer Authority v. Glenn and JoLynn Bragg.  The 4th Appeals Court of Texas found that the Edwards Aquifer Authority, one of Texas' largest groundwater conservation districts, violated the Braggs' property rights when it limited their ability to pump water from underneath their land.  Learn more here. 
  • Yosemite's Largest Ice Mass is Melting Fast - Lyell Glacier has shrunk 62% over the past century and hasn't moved in years. It's a key source of water in the park, and scientists say it will be gone in 20 years.
  • A Litany of LEED in the Law –Lean how LEED is interacting with the law in Lansing, Michigan. 
  • 2013 Irrigation Show & Education ConferenceNov. 4 -8 in Austin, TX. 
  • Guide to Water-Related Collective Action – This new report has been released by the Pacific Institute.
  • Seven reasons to never drink bottled water again –Share with your friends and get a beautiful new NeverWaste bottle from AWE.
  • Water Watchdogs Concerned about Utah Hay Exports to China - Utah farmers are helping to feed China by sending massive amounts of hay overseas. But some critics say those farmers are essentially shipping our precious water over there as well, in the form of this water-intensive crop. Learn more here. 
  • New Issue of Water Demand Management Bulletin Available – The October issue of the UK Water Demand Management Bulletin is available here. [LINK TO WDMB PDF]
  • European Environment Agency Calls For Full Cost Pricing of Water - In the study, 'Assessment of cost recovery through water pricing', the EEA looked at water pricing in England and Wales, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Scotland, Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia and Spain. The research group found that citizens wasted around a third more water when they were not charged for the actual amount they used.  Learn more here. 
  • Singapore Brings Desal Plant Online - The Singapore national water agency PUB and Hyflux have opened Tuaspring Desalination Plant, a seawater reverse osmosis desalination plant.  The plant has the capacity to treat 318,500mł of desalinated water a day - up to 25% of the country's current water demand.
  • Home Water Works Offers Consumer Efficiency Information – AWE’s Home Water Works web site – www.home-water-works.org – offers useful information on how to easily save water in your home or apartment and a Water Calculator to estimate how water is used.  Check it out 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 – 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.