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...

US Senate Approves WRDA with WaterSense Authorization 

 congressCongress took another step toward assuring the long term future of the WaterSense program with overwhelming Senate approval for the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2016.  This is the second major piece of legislation seeking to formally recognize WaterSense this year, and this one might have a chance.

The bipartisan WRDA would provide congressional authorization for the WaterSense program at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) after a decade of operation as a discretionary program.  House leaders have indicated they will be willing to add a WaterSense authorization to their version of the water resources bill, which had not yet been approved by the House.

Authorization for WaterSense has also been included by both the House and Senate as part of separate energy modernization bills.  A House-Senate conference committee is currently working out differences between the two energy bills.

"We're thrilled that Congress is finally moving to recognize the importance of WaterSense in the vital effort to increase water and energy efficiency and sustainability," said Mary Ann Dickinson, president and CEO of the Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE).  AWE has supported and promoted the WaterSense program since its inception in 2006.

The Senate passed S.2848 (the Water Resources Development Act of 2016) by a vote of 95-3 on Sept. 15. In addition to the formal authorization of WaterSense, the final bill includes a dam rehabilitation program housed under the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which will allow non-federal dam owners to apply for small grants to rehabilitate, remove or repair high hazard dams. There are also several provisions to assist communities in upgrading their drinking water and wastewater systems, including assistance for Flint, Michigan to help recover from the lead contamination the community suffered last year. Another provision in the bill ensures that qualifications-based selection is used on projects using Drinking Water State Revolving loan funds.

The legislation authorizes 27 new projects at the Army Corps of Engineers, 30 new feasibility studies, and modernizes several new projects already underway.

Preview: WaterSmart Innovations Conference 2016 

 wsi 2016 logo 

Wastewater Practice Leader and Beer Brewer to Keynote AWE Member Meeting 

 WSI-2016-AWE-Speaker- ScottScott Schaefer, wastewater practice leader and accomplished home brewer, will be the featured speaker at the AWE annual member meeting and reception in Las Vegas on October 4, 2016.  Scott’s presentation will explore the historical and present day interactions between America’s favorite beverage and the water that we work so hard to protect, treat, conserve, and deliver. The presentation is intended to be informative, entertaining, and a celebration of one of the “highest uses” of water.

Scott’s presentation compares and contrasts the water quality characteristics that are important to the brewing industry and to the potable water industry. He will then examine the historical benefits of beer (no waterborne diseases) and the regional water qualities that produced historical beer styles such as dry Irish stout and British pale ale. 

Scott Schaefer is the Wastewater Practice Leader for the regional engineering/consulting firm AE2S. He has been an avid homebrewer for the past eight years, and started brewing on the stovetop although has since upgraded to a batch-sparge all grain system. His local tap water works best with porters and stouts, although it can be modified to make Kolsch, pale ale, India pale ale, and saison.

Events for AWE Day at WaterSmart Innovations 10/4/2016 

 AWE H LogoThe Alliance for Water Efficiency will hold its annual in-person committee and member meetings on Tuesday, October 4, the day before the start of the 2016 WaterSmart Innovations Conference & Expo at the South Point Hotel and Conference Center, Las Vegas.  Affectionately known as AWE Day, this annual gathering is a great opportunity to get involved with the Alliance and hear first-hand what’s going on in the world of water efficiency.  Please note that this year the meetings will be held in Napa A, a different venue than the past.

AWE WaterSense & Water-Efficient Products Committee Meeting  


  •  Tuesday, October 4, 2016
  • 8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. | Napa A Room


AWE Education & Outreach Committee Meeting  

  • Tuesday, October 4, 2016
  • 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. | Napa A Room

AWE Water Efficiency Research Committee Meeting  

  • Tuesday, October 4, 2016
  • 1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. | Napa A Room

AWE Annual Member Meeting & Reception  

  • Tuesday, October 4, 2016
  • 5:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. | Sonoma C Room

AWE Music Night 

  • Tuesday, October 4, 2016
  • 7:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. | Sonoma C Room

 AWE Music Night Returns 

 Jennifer-C-and-Peter-MAWE’s popular Music Night will return immediately following the Annual Member Meeting & Reception on October 4. The 2016 Groundhog Days Music Night will feature great live music performed by the water conservation’s finest musicians and singers. Come and mingle and enjoy the music.

AWE Water Star Award 2016 

Water Star LogoOne of the highly anticipated events at WSI is the presentation of the AWE Water Star award at the luncheon banquet on Thurs. Oct. 6.  Last year’s winner was Fiona Sanchez from the Irvine Ranch Water District.  The 2016 winner will be announced on Oct. 6.

Paul R. Brown to Give Keynote at WaterSmart Innovations 2016  

paul-brownPaul R. Brown, an author, teacher, speaker and practitioner with international experience in planning, development, and management for public utilities and environmental facilities, will deliver the keynote address at the opening session for the 9th Annual WaterSmart Innovations (WSI) Conference and Exposition in Las Vegas on Wednesday, October 5.

Brown is currently Program Manager for the Regional Recycled Water Supply Program being evaluated by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts. The project has the potential to become the largest water reuse program in the Western United States.

As a professional water resource planner and program manager in California with many years of experience, Brown specializes in stakeholder-driven approaches to integrated resource planning and development. He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) and a Fellow in the International Water Association (IWA), where he chaired the IWA Cities of the Future program committee.

Brown also served as a Visiting Professor at the University of South Florida (USF) Patel College of Global Sustainability, where he also was Director of Applied Research.  Brown co-authored the book Water Centric Sustainable Communities.

Learn more about Paul Brown and WSI here.

AWE Launches Outdoor Water Savings Research Projects 

Outdoor Water Savings LogoAWE’s Outdoor Water Saving Research Initiative has secured funding for two key projects to be conducted in 2017 and 2018. 

  • Project 1 Reducing the Requirement – Landscape Transformation Reasons, Rationale, and Water Savings 

The goal of this project is to conduct new empirical research on landscape transformation projects such as turf removal and replacement, “cash for grass”, Xeriscape and water wise re-landscaping, and utility sponsored efforts to promote and incentivize reductions in the landscape water requirement. The research will focus on what motivates landscape and irrigation changes and what changes in water use occurred and therefore can be expected.

Eleven water providers in the U.S. and Canada have volunteered to assist with this study and provide both a cash contribution to the budget and information, data, and assistance with local research.

The proposals were received on Sept. 14, 2016 and the RFP has now closed.  The Project Advisory Committee is currently reviewing proposals, and AWE hopes to announce a decision at WSI.

  • Project 2 Use and Effectiveness of Municipal Irrigation Restrictions during Drought 

This research will compare the drought response approaches implemented by different water providers and the impact and water savings achieved through different measures and levels of implementation. This research will examine the impact of varying levels of mandatory and voluntary watering restrictions as well and different messaging and information. The final report will discuss which measures and messaging provide the most significant drought water demand reductions.

Eleven water providers, wholesalers, and water organizations in the U.S. have volunteered to assist with this study and provide both a cash contribution to the budget and information, data, and assistance with local research.

The Request for Proposals for this project will be released shortly.  All qualified researchers are invited to submit a proposal.

  • Project 3 Peak Day Water Demand Reduction Study 

This research is a cooperative effort of WaterDM, Rachio, New Jersey American Water, and the Alliance for Water Efficiency.  This is a pilot research project to “prove the concept” of water demand peak reduction through remote control of irrigation systems.  Peak demand reduction experiments were conducted on a small group of volunteer homes in Rumson, NJ during the summer of 2016.  The results are currently being analyze and the final report will be prepared and released in early 2017.  This research will help determine the viability of this type of peak shaving option for water utilities and will offer insight into implementation methods and barriers.

Imagine H2O Water Policy Challenge to Promote Data Solutions in California 

Imagine H2O (IH2O), the water innovation accelerator, has announced its second annual California Water Policy Challenge. The competition will showcase policy proposals enabling the deployment of water data innovations and technologies. The winner and finalists will be eligible to receive up to $40,000 in cash awards, mentorship from leading experts and introductions to strategic partners. The results will be announced at a leadership event in Sacramento in April 2017.

PMI Prepares for Transition of Long-Term CEO/Executive Director 

Barbara HigginsTransition plans are in the works as Plumbing Manufacturers International (PMI) CEO/Executive Director Barbara C. Higgens announced plans today to retire. Ms. Higgens will remain in her post at least through the end of 2017 and will be actively involved in the transition process.

Selected to lead PMI in 1998 from a field of 18 candidates, Ms. Higgens revamped the organization from her kitchen table as its first and only direct employee, hiring a dedicated in-house staff, securing office space and equipment, developing a strategic plan, restructuring meetings around key industry issues, and significantly enhancing the association’s membership value equation, while enhancing revenues and reserves.

“I’m very proud of the progress PMI has made during the past 18 years. We have stepped up to proactively embrace and facilitate change and are well-established as a reliable and trustworthy resource,” she said. “PMI is in wonderful shape with a myriad of successes under our belt, enhanced industry visibility, great volunteer leadership, consultants and staff, a strong membership roster and strong financials. It has been my pleasure and honor to lead this wonderful group. I have thoroughly enjoyed being a part of this industry.”  Learn more here. 

Legionella Issue Moves to Front Burner for Water Providers 

Cooling_tower_Denver waterThe issue of the Legionella bacteria and water temperature and quality is once again a topic of discussion and action among water providers.  The bacteria that cause Legionnaires’ disease have been detected in part of the water supply at the University of Washington Medical Center, where officials said a second person linked to an outbreak has died.

An ice machine and two sinks in cardiac units of the hospital’s Cascade Tower were found to be contaminated with the germs that can cause the potentially deadly form of pneumonia, officials said in September.  Signs warning patients, family and staff not to use drinking fountains and sinks were posted Wednesday throughout the tower.

A new analysis of 100 million Medicare records from U.S. adults aged 65 and older revealed rising healthcare costs for infections associated with opportunistic premise plumbing pathogens, which can live inside drinking water distribution systems, including household and hospital water pipes.

A team led by researchers from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University and Tufts University School of Medicine found that between 1991 and 2006, more than 617,000 hospitalizations related to three common plumbing pathogens resulted in around $9 billion in Medicare payments--an average of $600 million a year. The costs may now exceed $2 billion for 80,000 cases per year, write the study authors. Antibiotic resistance, which can be exacerbated by aging public water infrastructure, was present in between one and two percent of hospitalizations and increased the cost per case by between 10 to 40 percent. The study was published in the Journal of Public Health Policy on Sept. 12.

PMI recently published an interesting and useful “History of Hot Water Temperatures” article describing how these issues have emerged in the US.

Earlier this month, the US EPA released the final document, "Technologies for Legionella Control in Premise Plumbing Systems: Scientific Literature Review." The document is posted on EPA's website at https://www.epa.gov/ground-water-and-drinking-water/technologies-legionella-control-premise-plumbing-systems.

The document summarizes scientific literature on effective strategies for controlling Legionella growth in plumbing found in buildings and facilities. With this information, states, facility owners/operator and others can make more informed risk management decisions that prevent or mitigate Legionella growth in premise plumbing. EPA produced this document based on requests from states and the Veterans Health Administration for EPA to provide information on effective strategies for controlling Legionella in buildings. State drinking water program representatives participated in the preparation of the document and experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided feedback on several sections of the document. EPA also obtained input from the public and external experts.

The document does not recommend any particular technology nor the installation of treatment. It does not apply to households but rather to commercial and institutional facilities.

Book Review: “Water is for Fighting Over and Other Myths About Water in the West” by John Fleck 

Fleck book photo by MayerAn outstanding new book by New Mexico journalist John Fleck offers a far more optimistic view of water management in the Colorado Basin than earlier works such as Marc Reisner’s classic “Cadillac Desert”.  Released in September from Island Press, Water is for Fighting Over and Other Myths About Water in the West, is an enjoyable, informative read and a must for every water wonk’s bookshelf.

When we think of water in the West, we think of conflict and crisis. In recent years, newspaper headlines have screamed, “Scarce water and the death of California farms,” “The Dust Bowl returns,” “A ‘megadrought’ will grip U.S. in the coming decades.” Yet similar stories have been appearing for decades and the taps continue to flow. Fleck argues that the talk of impending doom is not only untrue, but dangerous. When people get scared, they fight for the last drop of water; but when they actually have less, they use less.

Having covered environmental issues in the West for a quarter century, Fleck would be the last writer to discount the serious problems posed by a dwindling Colorado River. But in that time, Fleck has also seen people in the Colorado River Basin come together, conserve, and share the water that is available. Western communities, whether farmers and city-dwellers or US environmentalists and Mexican water managers, have a promising record of cooperation, a record often obscured by the crisis narrative.

In this fresh take on western water, Fleck brings to light the true history of collaboration and examines the bonds currently being forged to solve the Basin’s most dire threats. Rather than perpetuate the myth “Whiskey's for drinkin', water's for fightin' over," Fleck urges readers to embrace a new, more optimistic narrative—a future where the Colorado continues to flow. 

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.