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.  Like and follow AWE on Facebook and Twitter for a chance to win an iPod Touch!

In this issue of Water Efficiency Watch...

Never Waste Campaign Coming Soon

never_waste_bottleThe Alliance for Water Efficiency is eagerly anticpating the launch of our first consumer water efficiency campaign: Never Waste.

Created by the Denver-based advertising firm Sukle, the brains behind Denver Water’s ultra creative “Use Only What You Need” conservation campaign, the Never Waste campaign concept emphasizes how much water is wasted during typical consumer actions and events. The campaign includes ad messages as well as a printed high-quality stainless steel water bottle which AWE members as well as individual consumers can buy.

The standard ad message campaign is free to all AWE members.  Ad messages and/or water bottles with customized member logos can be ordered directly from AWE.  The ad campaign will officially launch in March 2013 along with the campaign web site – neverwaste.org.  In the meantime, AWE is accepting orders for the ad campaign and the water bottles so that AWE members will be ready for the launch.

For more information, contact AWE Administrative Director, Jeffrey Hughes.

AWE’S 2012 Water Star: Karen Guz

2012-AWE-WSA-3-SmThe Alliance for Water Efficiency awarded its prestigious 2012 Water Star award to Karen Guz, Director of Conservation for the San Antonio Water System, at a gala ceremony at the WaterSmart Innovations conference in October.

“Karen exemplifies those same qualities we wish to honor: a personal passion for water conservation, a dedication to obtaining needed reductions in municipal water use, and persistence in the face of numerous obstacles and challenges,” said Mary Ann Dickinson, President and CEO of the Alliance for Water Efficiency, who presented the award.

“Karen has been working in water conservation for 12 years, a relatively short time in the span of some of our conservation careers,” Dickinson said.  “In those 12 years, six of which have been spent as Director of the San Antonio Water System’s water conservation program, she has been developing strategies and programs for saving water that are innovative, gutsy, and no-nonsense stringent. Programs so effective that per capita consumption has been reduced by 40%. San Antonio now has 50% more people, yet they use 0% more water. These are impressive numbers.”

Some of her conservation program achievements include:

  • Retrofitted more than 300,000 toilets in the past fifteen years (120,000 alone since 2006).Many of those retrofits were dual flush toilets. 
  • Changed the local code in 2010 to require WaterSense fixtures on all new construction.
  • Retrofitted all public schools and city buildings with high efficiency fixtures.
  • Developed a “four star efficiency” program for hotels, and over 200 hotels have completed retrofits.
  • Instituted “Plumbers to People” and Conservation Make Over programs that have brought free efficiency retrofits and leak repair to hundreds of low income customers.
  • Conducted conservation consults at homes that became so popular that 3-4 week wait lists developed, despite having 150 appointments per week.
  • Instituted a weekly conservation e-newsletter that now has over 11,000 subscribers.
  • Documented 120,000 personal interactions per year with their customers on conservation issues.
  • Developed a certification program with 80% of their local car wash operations participating.
  • Enhanced a custom rebate program to allow a $400/acre foot savings formula for any innovation that could prove savings over ten years; savings from over 100 projects have come from food process improvements, condensate recovery, car wash reclaim systems, hospital sterilizer upgrades, and laundry operation improvements.
  • Enforced all conservation programs, with a streamlined process with officers and the courts.
  • Conducted surveys to document that nearly 90% of their customers understand the rules and support them.
  • Instituted on-line water waste reporting, developed specialty software for tracking all reports and violations, and developed a cross departmental team to monitor weekly operations and progress.

The AWE Water Star Award is an award intended to recognize individual excellence in water efficiency. AWE wishes to celebrate the “unsung hero”, the quiet water conservation practitioner working in the trenches who makes a huge difference by their dedication, passion, and progressive approaches to move forward our field. 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 Water Star award winners include water conservation champions like John Flowers of EPA, George Kunkel of the Philadelphia Water Department, and Bill Maddaus of Maddaus Water Management.

Congratulations Karen on this well-deserved award.

AWE Wins WaterSense Excellence Award for Strategic Collaboration

WS EA 12 AWEThe Alliance for Water Efficiency has won the 2012 WaterSense Excellence Award for Strategic Collaboration.  EPA announced the 2012 WaterSense Partners of the Year and Excellence Award winners at the WaterSense and Alliance for Water Efficiency Awards Luncheon held at the WaterSmart Innovations Conference and Expo in Las Vegas in October.

Excellence Awards acknowledge partners who helped WaterSense meet their objectives and who supported their campaigns.  AWE was presented a 2012 Excellence Award for Strategic Collaboration. 

In presenting the award, Veronica Blette, program manager for WaterSense said, “AWE continued to serve as a national advocate and organizer for WaterSense in 2011. AWE convened its WaterSense and Water-Efficient Products Committee nine times over the course of the year as a venue for stakeholders to discuss the WaterSense specification process and showcase developments in water-efficiency programs, practices, and products. AWE shared its knowledge of WaterSense labeled products and partnerships at more than 80 speaking engagements and 75 events across the United States and Canada. AWE’s work was also essential in welcoming and supporting Canadian partners to the WaterSense program.” 

Learn more about the 2012 Partner of the Year Awards here.

Preliminary Results from the Latest Residential End Uses of Water Study Show Reduced Usage

Outside HousePreliminary results from the research project to Update and Expand the Residential End Uses of Water study have been released by the Water Research Foundation. This project is being conducted by a research team lead by Aquacraft. The Alliance for Water Efficiency is an important sponsor.

Annual single-family water use has gone down over the past 15 years. Reductions in both indoor and outdoor water use have been measured through the study. In Denver, Colorado 34% of the study homes had an average toilet flush volume less than 2 gpf, indicating they are largely equipped with ULF or HE toilets. Meanwhile, 26% of the homes had no flushes in the low volume range. The remaining 40% of the homes had a mixture of low volume and older high volume toilets.

Flushing frequency has not changed much over the nearly 20 years Aquacraft has been researching residential end uses. In Denver an average was recorded of 12 toilet flushes per household per day. Homes equipped with lower volume toilets did not flush more frequently than homes equipped with higher volume toilets.

In Denver, the average toilet flush volume was 2.63 gallons per flush. This is the third time end use data has been collected from a representative random sample in Denver and there has been a steady decline in the average toilet flush volume as older fixtures have been replaced. The results show progress in flushing efficiency, but also indicate that conservation potential remains in the toilet category. In 2012, 20% of the toilet flushes in Denver still exceeded 3.5 gpf.

The first published results from this study can be found on page 14 of the current issue of Water Research Foundation's Drinking Water Research .

Information on the original 1999 Residential End Uses of Water Study can be found in the AWE Resources Library here.

Drainline Study Flushes Out Surprising Results

1 PERC-logo-colorThe largest study conducted to date of water and waste flow in building drainlines has uncovered significant and surprising results.  The factors that significantly influence drainline carry from toilet flushes include: the volume of water in the flush; the slope of the draineline; and most surprisingly – the type of toilet paper.   Pete DeMarco, Project Manager for the Study, presented results from the Plumbing Efficiency Research Coalition (PERC) drainline carry study at the WaterSmart Innovations conference in Las Vegas in October.

In this study, an elaborate laboratory apparatus was used to test the impact of a wide variety of factors on the movement of water and waste through simulated drainlines. Since the advent of low volume toilets, many plumbers and engineers have expressed concern about the ability of these water efficient fixtures to move waste from the drainline to the sewer.  This study addressed these concerns through a scientific investigation.

While the slope of the drainline and volume of water in the flush were both factors that everyone expected to show significance, the importance of toilet paper came as a surprise to many.  Two types of toilet paper were tested:

  • High tensile strength paper(tough and doesn’t rip easily)
  • Low tensile strength paper (falls apart easily)

drainline_researchThe study found that toilet paper characteristics have the potential to “drastically impact” drainline transport with high tensile paper resulting in reduced drainline carry.

The study also found that some surprising factors have little influence on drainline transport.  These non-factors in drainline transport include:

  • Flushing mechanism – gravity flush or pressure assisted flush did not extend transport distance.
  • Trailing water – toilets designed to deliver a surge of trailing water behind the waste did not move waste farther in the drainline.
  • Clearing flush – introducing extra water into the drainline to clear clogged waste was not found to have significant impact.

The study found that as toilet flush volumes are reduced below the 1.28 gallon per flush level, more significant drainline transport issues are likely to occur.  The research team found that the 1.28 gpf level appears adequate for moving waste, which should enable the EPA WaterSense program to move forward with a commercial toilet specification.

The study was conducted by the Plumbing Efficiency Research Coalition, which is a project of:

The Alliance of Water Efficiency (AWE); the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO); the International Code Council (ICC); the Plumbing Heating and Cooling Contractors Association (PHCC); Plumbing Manufactures International (PMI); and the American Society of Plumbing Engineers (ASPE).

Download the research presentation from WaterSmart Innovations here.

WaterSmart Innovations 2012 – “One of the best”

by Peter Mayer

las-vegasMy informal and completely unscientific poll of participants at the Water Smart Innovations 2012 conference returned highly favorable ratings for the 6th edition of the Las Vegas event.  Many described this year’s conference as “one of the best,” and I agree.  Over the past five years, Doug Bennett and his outstanding team from the Southern Nevada Water Authority have created the most important annual event for water conservation and demand management professionals North America.

I’ve attended WSI every year and it has evolved and improved each year largely through the attentive efforts of the planning team.  But this conference is elevated each year by the diverse and enthusiastic participants who may moan a bit about the venue, but appreciate the value and the content.

Here’s a quick review of the evens and odds at WSI 2012:

  • Opening Images – J. Carl Ganter’s spectacular and poignant photography set the tone for the conference.
  • Best Speech– The best speech of the conference actually happened the night before the Opening session.  Cynthia Barnett made a compelling case for the importance of water efficiency when the journalist and author of Blue Revolution spoke at the Alliance for Water Efficiency Annual Member’s meeting on Tuesday night.
  • Technical Triumph – The technical sessions were interesting and well attended.  I particularly enjoyed learning the results of the recent drainline carry study.  Who knew that the type of toilet paper used could have such an impact? [LINK]
  • Exhibitionists – The exhibit hall was small, but spirited and including the poster presentations worked well.  Frequent raffle drawings, booze, and surprise visitors kept the hall busy and lively.
  • Lunch Awards – No banquet this year, so the EPA WaterSense and AWE Awards ceremony was held over lunch.  Congratulations to the well deserving award winners. Karen Guz receiving the Water Star of the Year award was the highlight for me. [LINK].
  • Rainbird Rocks – The Rainbird Intelligent Use of Water Film Competition is one of my favorite parts of WSI.  Inventive short films about water.  Creativity reigns, and it’s inspiring to see how water inspires filmmakers.  Get up early and don’t miss it.
  • Party Animals – Let it never be said that water conservation professionals are a bunch of nerds who don’t know how to party.  We can party -- and we proved it at several boisterous WSI gatherings.
  • Meatloaf again? -  WSI has been held in the oft-maligned South Point Hotel and Casino for the past five years.  Say what you like, but the rooms are nice and the place is affordable.  A rental car opens up a world of possibility beyond the hotel confines.

Abstracts for WSI 2013 are due January 18.  WSI 2013 will be held October 1 – 4, 2013.  If past trends continue, 2013 will be the best one yet.

WaterSense Update

WaterSense LogoWaterSense Intends to Revise Irrigation Certification and Partnership

WaterSense has announced its intention to modify the Specifications for Certification Programs for Irrigation Professionals and the WaterSense irrigation professional partnership.

The program changes outlined in the Notice of Intent are two-fold:

  1. WaterSense intends to restructure its current specifications for professional certification programs by creating a consolidated and common set of general requirements that will apply to all professional certifying organizations (PCOs). WaterSense will continue to create individual specifications for requirements specific to particular types of certification programs.
  2. WaterSense is considering removing the individual irrigation partnership designation which will allow WaterSense to expand the benefits of partnership to all professionals certified by WaterSense labeled programs, without requiring professionals to submit a partnership application.

Learn more here.

Saving Water at Work – WaterSense Releases Commercial Best Practice Guide

To help building owners and managers understand and significantly reduce water use in their facilities, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has created WaterSense at Work: Best Management Practices for Commercial and Institutional Facilities.

WaterSense at Work is a compilation of water-saving tips, techniques, and fixture recommendations for commercial and institutional sectors, including hospitality, food service, healthcare, laboratory, office buildings, and educational facilities. The easy-to-use guide includes in-depth sections covering:

  • Water management planning
  • Water use monitoring and education
  • Sanitary fixtures and equipment
  • Commercial kitchen equipment
  • Outdoor water use
  • Mechanical systems
  • Laboratory and medical equipment
  • Onsite alternative water sources

The guide provides numerous ideas for helping businesses and organizations of all sizes save water, energy, and operational costs by incorporating water-efficient products and practices in their facilities.

Ontario Adopts Conservation and Efficiency Goals In Accordance with the Great Lakes Agreement

OntarioOn Nov. 8, 2012 the Canadian providence of Ontario officially adopted water conservation and efficiency goals that are identical to the Great Lakes – St. Laurence River Basin Sustainable Water Resource Agreement.

Ontario’s efficiency goals include:

  1. Protecting and restoring the hydrologic and ecosystem integrity of the Basin;
  2. Retaining the quantity of surface water and groundwater in the Basin;
  3. Ensuring sustainable use of waters of the Basin; and
  4. Promoting the efficiency of use and reducing losses and waste of water.

Learn more about water conservation and efficiency objectives here.

Learn more about the Great Lakes agreement here. 

Efficient2013 Conference to be Held in Paris

parisThe International Water Association (IWA) holds an international water efficiency conference every two years, and the next conference will be held in Paris on October 22-25, 2013.  This is a fabulous gathering of international water efficiency experts and advocates, covering both demand side management and supply side water loss.  AWE CEO Mary Ann Dickinson is Chair of the IWA Specialist Group that will run the conference, and based on past conferences in Jordan, Australia, Korea, Chile, and Spain, this one promises to be full of great information and case studies.  The call for papers has been announced; abstracts are due by January 15, 2013.  Download the call for papers here.  

River Network Releases Newsletter on Fracking

Hydro Fracking ImageRiver Network has devoted an entire issue of its River Voices newsletter to the subject of hydraulic fracturing (aka fracking), a controversial method of extracting natural gas. The newsletter, titled Hydraulic Fracturing and Water Resources: Separating the Frack from the Fiction, contains eight informative articles that explore and demystify the various issues surrounding fracking. The newsletter is prominently featured on the AWE Hydraulic Fracturing web page along with other resources about this controversial natural gas extraction process.

Access the River Network newsletter here.

AWE Envisions the Water Efficient Home of the Future

EcoHome Vision 2020 LogoIt’s not unusual to anticipate that new homes in the future will be more water efficient, but how will increases in efficiency be accomplished?   From hyper-efficient fixtures and appliances and in-home resource consumption dashboards to rainwater-reliant landscapes and graywater reuse, AWE has envisioned a possible future with substantially lower water use.

The November/December 2012 issue of EcoHome Magazine features an article by Mary Ann Dickinson, Carole Baker, and Peter Mayer that sets out a water efficient vision for new homes in the future.  The article is part of the EcoHome Magazine’s Vision 2020 - an editorial odyssey into the future of sustainability.  It’s not a certainty that this vision will come to pass, but many of the ideas presented already exist today.  It turns out we’re not that far away from a highly water efficient future.

View the on-line version of EcoHome Magazine here.

Showerpooling Campaign Promotes Shared Conservation

showerpoolShowering with a friend to save water has been a comedic if not effective approach to water efficiency for years.  Consumer product manufacturer, Unilever, has taken the idea to the next level with its edgy Showerpooling campaign to promote the AXE brand of grooming products….and water conservation.

In a variety of internet videos and advertisements, the Showerpooling campaign urges college students to shower with a friend, or "an attractive stranger."   Unilever took the shower show on the road with a campus tour to 10 cities across the US promoting showerpooling, AXE products, and the importance of water conservation.

During the tour, AXE gave away 7,000 Delta H20kinetic water-efficient showerheads.  Unilever also provided a generous donation to the Alliance for Water Efficiency as part of the campaign.

Learn more about the Showerpooling campaign here.

News Briefs and Web Links

  • Comment Time Part 1 - ASHRAE 191 - Standard for the Efficient Use of Water in Building, Site, and Mechanical Systems is available for public comment.
  • Comment Time Part 2 - The public comment period for LEED v4 is now open. Comments will be accepted until December 10.
  • Inaccurate Demand Forecasts Lead to Revenue Shortfalls - People are using less water and utilities must ensure demand forecasts reflect reality or rates cannot be set properly to cover revenue requirements. This analysis from the UNC Environmental Finance Center reminds us that the future may not resemble the past.
  • Oracle Utilities : Future demand with outstrip supply - Thirty-nine percent of water executives say demand is “highly likely” to outstrip water supply by 2030, while 54 percent say such a risk is moderately likely, according to research released by Oracle Utilities.
  • Denver Water’s conservation success story – Water use in Denver and other cities in the west is compared and one of AWE’s founders, Liz Gardener, is featured.  Learn more here.
  • Whitewash at Hoover Dam – “Blue Revolution” author Cynthia Barnett visits Lake Mead and finds a lost educational opportunity.  Learn more here.
  • Graywater reuse system installed in Oak Park, IL – Residents invested $2,000 in hopes of achieving long term water savings.  Learn more here.
  • MaP Premium Launched – Need a toilet that uses 4 liters and flushes 600 grams of miso or more?  MaP Premium plans to identify products that use less water and offer high performance.  Learn more here.
  • Non-Profit Finds Additional Potential for Conservation in San Diego – The Equinox Center used results from an Aquacraft California end use study to estimate potential water savings that can be achieved to be on the order of 20 – 30%.  Learn more here.
  • Many large companies neglect a long term water strategy – A report has found that 60% of the top 250 companies in the world lack a long term water strategy.  Learn more here.
  • Excellent water security video – This 6 minute video highlights the importance of sustainable water management now and in the future.

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 – mayer@aquacraft.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.