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 Launches Financing Sustainable Water Initiative to Build Better Rates 

FSW Logo-SmThe Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE) has launched Financing Sustainable Water, an initiative created to help water managers build better rate structures that improve revenue stability, yet encourage resource efficiency. Aimed at combatting the common misperception that conservation makes rates rise, the Financing Sustainable Water initiative was designed to provide helpful tools and data to water managers, elected officials, and consumers.

“Declining water use is an important accomplishment that is unfortunately not being viewed that way,” said AWE President and CEO Mary Ann Dickinson.  “Efficiency remains the most cost-effective way to stretch our current water supplies for growing populations and ensure that expensive new reservoirs, wells and treatment plants do not have to be built. However, utilities are becoming hesitant to invest in efficiency due to the short-term revenue challenges. The solution is not to condemn conservation for reducing water sales, but instead to plan for the financial effects of efficiency and design rate structures that both collect sufficient revenue to cover costs and incentivize the customer to use water wisely.”

At www.FinancingSustainableWater.org, water managers can find innovative new resources to support rate setting efforts. A handbook, Building Better Water Rates for an Uncertain World: Balancing Revenue Management, Resource Efficiency and Fiscal Sustainability, provides guidance on developing, evaluating, and implementing efficiency-oriented rate structures.

Managers can also download the new AWE Sales Forecasting and Rate Model, which is the first-ever public domain rate model to incorporate the principles of probability management into rate making.

Texas Water Financing Workshops Set for November 12 and 13 

As part of the Financing Sustainable Water Initiative, AWE is partnering with the Texas Water Foundation and the Sierra Club to host two workshops for Texas utilities in the Houston and Dallas areas on November 12 and 13, 2014. Participants will learn about new rate setting and financial management resources, including in-depth training on AWE's new Sales Forecasting and Rate Model.

Learn more and register here

AWE Urges Support for Bill to Boost WaterSense Funding 

WaterSense LogoThe Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE) is urging its members and interested water stakeholders to write their Congressional Representatives and Senators immediately to urge the passage of S. 2771/H.R. 5363, the Water in the 21st Century Act.

This landmark federal bill (identical versions were filed in both the House and the Senate) would provide official authorization for the WaterSense program at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and authorize funding of $50 million for the program over the next four years.  The legislation would also authorize $800 million in federal grants to mitigate water systems against the effects of drought, and provide federal loans and loan guarantees for recycling, storage and integrated management projects.  Learn more about the bill and how to submit support here

Water Smart Innovations 2014: Sandra Postel, AWE/EPA Awards, Networking Galore! 

 WSI-logo-2014The 7th annual Water Smart Innovations conference kicks off on October 7 with pre-conference meetings and workshops and slams into gear on October 8 with a keynote address from noted author Sandra Postel.

sandra-postel-lake-mead-02Postel, founder of Global Water Policy Project, has been hailed for her "inspiring, innovative and practical approach" to promoting the preservation and sustainable use of Earth's fresh water.  She is the author of several acclaimed books, including the award-winning Last Oasis: Facing Water Scarcity, which appears in eight languages and was the basis for a PBS television documentary.

AWE will present the coveted Water Star award at a gala luncheon on Oct. 9.  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); Karen Guz of the San Antonio Water System (2012), and Doug Bennett of the Southern Nevada Water Authority (2013).  The EPA WaterSense program® will also present their annual Partner of the Year awards at this event.

 WSI is the premier annual event for water efficiency professionals to meet and network.  Come early for the AWE meetings on Oct. 7 and don’t miss any of the exciting professional sessions, events, and tours.

AWE Meeting Schedule for October 7 at Water Smart Innovations  

 BruceRhodes-SmIf you’re planning to attend Water Smart Innovations in Las Vegas this year, don’t forget to come a day early to attend the Alliance for Water Efficiency’s annual in-person committee and general membership meetings on October 7. 

Nick-named “AWE Day” at WSI, this annual day of meetings has become an important and popular gathering since the founding of AWE. The keynote speaker at AWE’s Annual Member Meeting will be Bruce Rhodes, Manager of Water Resource Management at Melbourne Water.

Here is the schedule of AWE events, all at the South Point Hotel, Las Vegas:

AWE WaterSense & Water-Efficient Products Committee Meeting  

Tuesday, October 07, 2014
8:30 a.m. Mission Bay Room

 AWE Education & Outreach Committee Meeting  

Tuesday, October 07, 2014
10:30 a.m. Mission Bay Room

 AWE Water Efficiency Research Committee Meeting  

Tuesday, October 07, 2014
1:30 p.m. Mission Bay Room

 AWE Annual Member Meeting & Reception  

Tuesday, October 07, 2014
5:00 p.m. Sonoma C Room

Music Night in Las Vegas, Oct. 7 

guitar-smallLooking for something different this year at Water Smart Innovations? Are you a musician or a music fan? Bring your instrument, voice, and clapping hands to Las Vegas for WaterSmart Innovations on Tuesday, Oct 7 and join us for a fun, relaxed, and informal night of live music and jamming following the AWE Annual Member Meeting and Reception in Room Sonoma C. 

Come check out performances by the Headwaters Collective and many of your water efficiency colleagues and friends. The cash bar will be open.  Everyone is invited.

AWE Members Set to Exhibit at Water Smart Innovations 

 AWE member horizontalTime to make plans for Water Smart Innovations.  Many AWE members are exhibiting at this year's conference, so don't miss this opportunity to learn about their outstanding array of products and services.  Here's the list of AWE members to look for in the WSI exhibit hall.  You will find AWE friendly staff in Booth #110. See you there!

Water Loss Workshop Scheduled for November 6 in Los Angeles 

fire hydrant flushGet up to speed with utility water loss control at a workshop to be held in Los Angeles on Nov. 6, 2014.  The workshop - Real Loss Component Analysis: A Tool for Economic Water Loss Control - will focus on a newly completed project from the Water Research Foundation (project 4372) that will help managers analyze and reduce water utility system leakage in the most cost-effective way. The project produced a free user friendly model that is a major improvement in standard leakage component analysis for the water utility community.

This workshop, co-sponsored by AWE and the Water Research Foundation, will provide a hands-on demonstration of the model, and each participant is encouraged to bring a laptop with their utility data and the model preloaded.  Learn more and register here

Agreement to Streamline Green Building Tool Coordination and Development Inked 

Green building 1An unprecedented effort to coordinate major green building initiatives was completed in August.  ASHRAE, the International Code Council (ICC), the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IES) and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) have signed a memorandum to collaborate on the development of Standard 189.1, the International Green Construction Code (IgCC) and the LEED green building program.

The unprecedented cooperation aims to create a comprehensive framework for jurisdictions looking to implement and adopt green building regulations and codes and/or provide incentives for voluntary leadership programs such as LEED.

Learn more about this important coordination effort here

New California Laws Regulate Groundwater, Promote Urban Water Planning 

California State FlagCalifornia Gov. Jerry Brown has signed two new laws to improve water management in the state.  For the first time, California will establish statewide management of water pumped from the ground and an updated Urban Water Management Planning Act includes new planning requirements for water providers. 

California was one of two remaining states in the country to not have a statewide groundwater management program.  Experts have warned that increasing reliance on underground pumping was harming the state's aquifers, with more water being drawn from some than was being replaced.  The new law instructs local agencies to create groundwater management plans

Urban water suppliers face new planning requirements under amendments to the Urban Water Management Planning Act.  Under this new law, urban water suppliers are required to provide narrative descriptions of their water demand management measures and account for system water losses when preparing Urban Water Management Plans (UWMP), among other changes. The amended Act also establishes July 1, 2016 as the deadline for urban water suppliers to prepare and submit their 2015 UWMPs to the Department of Water Resources.

The Act generally requires all wholesale and retail urban water suppliers to prepare an UWMP if they provide municipal water directly or indirectly to 3,000 or more customers or 3,000 or more acre-feet per year.  The requirements apply to both public and privately owned suppliers.

Learn more here

California Considers Mandatory Submetering Again 

Meter pixThe California legislature is re-considering the issue of submetering for multi-family housing with the introduction of SB 411.

If enacted, SB 411 will require the installation of water submeters in multi-unit residential buildings, among other requirements. Selected structures are exempted from this requirement and the Building Standards Commission (CBSC) will determine further exemptions based on the feasibility of installation.

Learn more and get updates on California SB 411 here

Drought Continues to Threaten Water Supply for 14 California Communities 

DroughtSince January 2014, 28 small California communities have cycled onto and off of a list of "critical water systems" that state officials say could run dry within 60 days. Today, 14 communities remain on the “critical” supply list

This is the first year that the State Water Resources Control Board chose to track areas on the brink of waterlessness.

"It's a sign of how severe this drought is," said Bruce Burton, an assistant deputy director for the board.

For some communities, earning a place on the list was the impetus to address problems that should have been fixed long ago. Some drilled new wells, built storage tanks or connected their water systems with larger ones and got off the critical list. Other communities were saved by late spring rains that filled reservoirs and other water supplies.

Tim Quinn, Executive Director of the Association of California Water Agencies, said communities that have made the “critical” list are often small and isolated, and they relied on a single source of water, such as a stream, without backup sources. But he warned that if the drought continues, larger communities could face their own significant problems.

 "If this drought keeps on going, some larger, more sophisticated communities are going to be in trouble next year," Quinn said.

Colorado River Districts Adopt Drought Response Policy 

Lake MeadTwo water conservation districts that comprise the entire Colorado River basin in the state of Colorado have adopted implementation principles concerning how the current, extended drought conditions are addressed on the Colorado River’s storage system.

The Colorado River and Southwestern Water Conservation Districts met on September 18 to address the ongoing drought conditions in the Colorado River basin and its effects on storage and operations of Lakes Powell and Mead. The two boards unanimously adopted a recommended priority for a contingency plan in response to extraordinarily low reservoir levels. 

The boards resolved that changes in federal reservoir operations and additional investment in river augmentation programs must be the first priority.  If it becomes necessary to implement the contingency plan due to ongoing drought conditions, stored water in Flaming Gorge, Navajo and the Aspinall Unit (Blue Mesa Reservoir) should be released and subsequently stored in Lake Powell to increase Powell’s lake levels.

Additional weather modification (winter cloud seeding) and removal of non-native, riparian trees (tamarisk and Russian olive) should be undertaken to enhance both river flows and water levels in Lake Powell.  But shockingly, the boards further specified that only if efforts like cloud seeding and phreatophyte removal prove insufficient should “demand management” proposals be pursued, because of concern that these efforts will “disrupt” traditional water uses. Demand management proposals are defined to include a reduction in consumption by municipal and irrigation users and voluntary deficit irrigation and temporary fallowing by agricultural users.

The two boards stressed the importance that any demand management effort include conservation by both municipal and agricultural water users, and that any agricultural water disruptions be shared by Colorado River water users on both the east and west slopes.

Learn more about this agreement here

Supreme Court Asked to Hold Off Ruling on Florida-Georgia Water Dispute 

GeorgiaFloridaThe U.S. solicitor general, Donald B. Verrilli, said he believes the U.S. Supreme Court should put off accepting a Florida lawsuit that accuses Georgia of consuming too much water.

Verrilli noted that the Army Corps of Engineers is working to complete a “master manual” to guide management of water in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin, which includes Lake Lanier.  As an option, justices could accept Florida’s complaint but put on hold “any further proceedings until the corps has issued the revised master manual,” Verrilli stated in a recently filed brief.

“Practical considerations ... weigh against the court’s resolution of Florida’s claims before the corps has completed its process of updating the master manual for the federal projects in the ACF Basin,” states the 24-page brief.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said he is encouraged by Verrilli’s recommendations.

“This lawsuit was political theater and nothing more,” he said. “It’s absurd to waste taxpayers’ money and prolong this process with a court battle when I negotiated in good faith for two years and offered a framework for an agreement.”

Florida filed suit in October 2013, drawing out what has been a 20-year water-sharing conflict between Georgia, Alabama and Florida, often referred to as “water wars.” Much of the wrangling has been over Lake Lanier, which serves as a primary drinking water source for metro Atlanta. 

Reaction from Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s office wasn’t immediately available.  Learn more here

San Antonio Considers $3.3 billion Water Supply Investment 

SAWS_logoSan Antonio is considering a huge investment in its future water supply. The city is negotiating with water treatment and desalination company Abengoa for a $3.3 billion well field and pipeline, according to news reports.

A 30-year contract for 50,000 acre-feet of water annually at $110 million a year may be signed with final approval by year-end, Greg Flores, a spokesman for the San Antonio Water System, said in a recent interview with Bloomberg.

The negotiation comes at a critical time for the water supply in drought-plagued Texas.  San Antonio has recently been in Stage II water restrictions and has been seeking new water sources to supplement the Edwards Aquifer for years.

Learn more here

Arizona Water Rates Face Scrutiny from UNC Environmental Finance Center 

ArizonaA new analysis of water rates and pricing in Arizona conducted by the UNC Environmental Finance Center revealed some surprising results – citizens in the hottest and driest part of the state are not paying the highest water rates.

The UNC analysis found that marginal prices for water are on average 37% lower among utilities in regions where temperatures are typically the highest and precipitation the lowest. In other words, in the hottest and driest region of the state, the utilities are sending relatively weaker conservation price signals than in the other regions, as measured by the water marginal price at 10,000 gallons/month, irrespective of the water system size or ownership model or water source.

The Environmental Finance Center also updated their unique “Rates Dashboard” in September 2014 with additional benchmarking metrics and a much larger sample of utilities for comparison.

Learn more about the analysis of Arizona water rates and the UNC Rates Dashboard here

2015 International Water Efficiency Conference to be Held in Cincinnati  

iwalogoThe International Water Association has announced that the global Efficient2015 conference will be held for the first time in North America, April 20-24, 2015 in Cincinnati, OH. This conference is a flagship event for water efficiency professionals worldwide, and is chaired by AWE President Mary Ann Dickinson. A special feature of this conference will be a workshop to develop sorely needed performance assessment metrics for water efficiency. Papers are needed on a wide variety of topics. Abstracts are due by October 15, 2014. Download the Call for Papers here

Historic Drought Worsens Groundwater Conditions in Northern China 

china_flag_mapAfter a season of record-breaking drought across China, groundwater levels have hit historic lows this year in northeast and central parts of China where hundreds of millions of people live. Reservoirs grew so dry in agricultural Henan province that the city of Pingdingshan closed car washes and bathhouses and extracted water from puddles.  In Inner Mongolia and other northern regions of the country, fields today are bone-dry.

 In recent years, farmers and water-hungry industries have been wrestling with a long-term water crisis that has dried up more than half the country's 50,000 significant rivers and left hundreds of cities facing what the government classifies as a "serious scarcity" of water.

 Half a billion Chinese live in a handful of provinces, largely in the northeast, where coal-fired power plants, steel foundries and industries rely on reservoirs and aquifers. The country's climate is also warming, particularly in its populous northeast where rain levels have fallen, according to a 2011 study by Chinese, French and British researchers. Meanwhile, the country's south has seen its rainfall concentrated in shorter bursts, which has made it harder to predict water supplies.

As a result, per capita water availability in the megacities of Beijing and Shanghai as well as their surrounding provinces equals that of dry Middle Eastern countries such as Israel and Jordan, said Feng Hu, a water analyst with the Hong Kong-based research group China Water Risk. By comparison, the average U.S. household has access to nearly five times more available water than Chinese households do.

"If we continue with our business-as-usual model, the demand will exceed supply by 2030," said Feng Hu, a water analyst with the Hong Kong-based research group China Water Risk. "The water crisis is a real risk."  Learn more here

Reading List:  Chasing Water by Brian Richter 

chasing_waterIn his new book from Island Press, international water expert Brian Richter argues that sustainable water sharing in the twenty-first century can only happen through open, democratic dialogue and local collective action.

In Chasing Water, Richter tells a story of water scarcity: where it is happening, what is causing it, and how it can be addressed. Through his engaging and nontechnical style, he strips away the complexities of water management to its bare essentials, providing information and practical examples that will empower community leaders, activists, and students to develop successful and long-lasting water programs.

Chasing Water hopes to provide readers with the tools and knowledge they need to take an active role in the watershed-based planning and implementation that are essential for water supplies to remain sustainable in perpetuity.

Learn more about Chasing Water here


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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. 

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