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...

DOE Continues Aggressive Efficiency Enforcement Effort with New Proposed Penalties

Congress_clipAs part of an ongoing commitment to rigorously enforce appliance efficiency requirements, the Department of Energy has announced 27 new proposed penalties against companies selling products (including showerheads) in the United States without certifying that they comply with energy efficiency or water conservation standards. The 27 companies include manufacturers, importers, and private labelers of appliance, plumbing, and lighting products.

"This unprecedented number of cases reflects our commitment to enforce all aspects of the Department's conservation standards," said Scott Blake Harris, General Counsel of the Department.  "Strong enforcement will encourage compliance and ensure cost savings for consumers."

Collectively, the notices propose penalty fees of over $3.5 million, though these fines may be reduced if the companies quickly comply with certification requirements.  Unless companies address these claims within thirty days, the Department will file actions either in the United States District Court or with an Administrative Law Judge to demand payment of the proposed penalties.

For More information, review the proposed  Penalty Notices  and read General Counsel Scott Blake Harris's blog post on the Department's efficiency enforcement efforts.

DOE Announces Proposed Rulemaking to Enforce EPAct, Holds Meeting Sept. 30

US-flagThe U.S. Department of Energy announced the issuance of a notice of proposed rulemaking regarding certification, compliance, and enforcement for covered products and covered equipment. Ultimately, these proposals will allow DOE to systematically enforce applicable energy and water conservation standards for covered products and covered equipment and provide for more accurate, comprehensive information about the energy and water use characteristics of products sold in the United States.

DOE will hold a public meeting to discuss and receive comments on the proposals on Thursday, September 30, 2010, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the U.S. Department of Energy, Forrestal Building, Room 8E-089, 1000 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20585-0121.  Alliance for Water Efficiency President Mary Ann Dickinson will appear to present a statement.

The new DOE administration is making an effort to enforce provisions of the 2007 Energy Act.  Revisions have been proposed to existing DOE enforcement protocols (rules).  If approved, DOE could begin testing to determine if products such as showerheads and faucet aerators really meet the EPAct and ANSI/ASME specifications.  Learn more here.

AWE Meeting Schedule for Oct. 5, 2010 at Water Smart Innovations, Las Vegas

awelogomini_altThe Alliance for Water Efficiency will hold committee meetings on Tuesday, October 5, 2005 ahead of the Water Smart Innovations conference in Las Vegas.  The day will conclude with AWE’s Annual Member Meeting and Reception at 5:30 p.m.  James Workman, author of Heart of Dryness, will be the featured speaker.

  AWE WaterSense & Water-Efficient Products Committee Meeting 

Tuesday, October 05, 2010
1:00 p.m. - Mission Bay Room, South Point Conference Center, Las Vegas, NV

AWE Water Efficiency Research Committee Meeting 

Tuesday, October 05, 2010
2:30 p.m. - Mission Bay Room, South Point Conference Center, Las Vegas, NV

AWE Education & Outreach Committee Meeting 

Tuesday, October 05, 2010
4:00 p.m. - Mission Bay Room, South Point Conference Center, Las Vegas, NV

AWE Annual Member Meeting & Reception 

Tuesday, October 05, 2010
5:30 p.m. - Sonoma D Room, South Point Conference Center, Las Vegas, NV

Join AWE and EPA at 2010 WaterSense Awards Banquet, Oct. 6, 2010 at WSI, Las Vegas

WS-Banquet-2010The Alliance for Water Efficiency and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are jointly sponsoring the second annual 2010 WaterSense Partner of the Year Awards Banquet,  to be held as part of the WaterSmart Innovations Conference and Exposition in Las Vegas on Wednesday, October 6, 2010.

The banquet will be held in Grand Ballroom B at the South Point Hotel and Conference Center, and will begin with a cocktail reception at 6:00 p.m., followed by dinner at 7:00 p.m.  The WaterSense awards will be presented at 8:00 p.m.  and AWE will once again present its surprise WaterStar Award. 

This is a great opportunity for water efficiency professionals to meet and network. All attendees will be entered in an event-only raffle to win an Apple iPad.  Musical entertainment will be provided by Phat Strad, an all-women electric string quartet that has opened for many famous artists such as John Mayer, Sheryl Crow, Billy Idol, Styx, Duran Duran, and others.

The cost for the banquet is $75 per person and all tickets must be purchased in advance.  For information on purchasing tickets, purchasing tables, and banquet sponsorship opportunities, contact Molly Garcia at the Alliance for Water Efficiency.

AWE Seeks New Members for Board of Directors

The Alliance for Water Efficiency is growing and is seeking qualified candidates to fill several vacant board seats for a 2011-2013 commitment. The Alliance is looking for AWE Board Members that are:

  • Committed to the Alliance for Water Efficiency's Guiding Principles and Strategic Plan
  • Visionary and creative   
  • Have fundraising ability and connection to funders    
  • Willing to be held accountable for commitments
  • Expert in area of strategic AWE growth (e.g., health, agriculture, manufacturing, public health, tribal, consumer, etc.)            

Nominations should be sent to Jeffrey@a4we.org.  Self nominations are welcome, and candidates of color are encouraged to apply. Submissions should include a resume and a one page cover letter. The Alliance for Water Efficiency's Guiding Principles and Strategic Plan are available on our website: http://www.allianceforwaterefficiency.org/ .

Great Lakes Conservation Rates Workshops Set for October and November

faucet-$The Alliance of Water Efficiency is sponsoring three workshops to help improve understanding of the practice of water utility conservation rates in the Great Lakes Basin, to promote their use, and to identify implementation barriers.  The project is led by the Great Lakes Commission.

There will be workshops at three separate Great Lakes locations, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.   

  • Tuesday, October 12, 2010 - Ann Arbor, MI
  • Monday, November 8, 2010 - Racine, WI
  • Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - Buffalo, NY

The workshops will be conducted by Janice Beecher, Director of the Institute of Public Utilities, Michigan State University; Mary Ann Dickinson, President and CEO, Alliance for Water Efficiency; and Ed Glatfelter, Water Conservation Director, Alliance for the Great Lakes. 

Click here for more information and registration.

Commercial Kitchens Workshop in El Paso on October 14

The Alliance for Water Efficiency, the El Paso Water Utilities, and the Food Service Institute of Technology will team up for a workshop on commercial kitchens to be held October 14, in El Paso, TX.

This seminar will feature take-home strategies for optimizing the performance of cook-line, refrigeration systems, warewashing equipment, kitchen exhaust ventilation and HVAC systems. New energy-efficient lighting technologies for food service will be highlighted. 

Learn more and register here.

Johnson Foundation Freshwater Summit Issues Call to Action

Citing a looming freshwater crisis that could affect the nation's economy, the livability of our communities and health of our ecosystems, a diverse coalition of businesses, farmers, environmental not-for-profits and government agencies has issued a landmark call to action report aimed at heading off a national crisis in water quality and supply.  Carole Baker, Board Chair of the Alliance for Water Efficiency, attended the kickoff ceremony in Washington DC.

"Charting New Waters: A Call to Action to Address U.S. Freshwater Challenges," is the culmination of an intensive two-year collaboration exploring solutions to U.S. freshwater challenges. In September it was presented to the Obama Administration at a meeting of federal agencies.

The “Call to Action” represents consensus recommendations of diverse interests and identifies serious challenges to the quality and supply of freshwater, such as pollution and scarcity; competing urban, rural and ecosystem water needs; climate change; environmental and public health impacts; and a variety of economic implications. The document also offers actions to confront these threats and a plan to ensure that our freshwater resources are secure for the 21stcentury. Click here for additional information. 

San Diego County Compares Drought Response Efforts and Finds 12.4% Savings Overall

san-diegoThe California drought that has impacted much of the state in recent years has spurred utilities in San Diego County to implement mandatory water use restrictions in order to reduce demand.  A recent analysis by the San Diego County Water Authority (SCWA) found that, overall, these programs have succeeded well.

Most provider members of the SCWA exceeded the goal according to published reports, with the Ramona Municipal Water District cutting the highest percentage — nearly 22 percent — while the tiny Yuima Municipal Water District near the Riverside County border cut back by just 2.4 percent.

Overall, San Diego County residents cut their water use by 12.4 percent during the first 12 months of mandatory conservation measures across the region, saving nearly 77,000 acre-feet of water.

This is a lot of liquid, and only two reservoirs in San Diego County have capacity to store that much water.  The SCWA estimates that approximately one-third of the volume saved was from cutbacks in the city of San Diego. City residents cut water use by 25,470 acre-feet, or 11.6 percent, in fiscal 2010 compared with 2009.  But on a percentage basis, the city placed slightly below the regional mark.

Learn more about the impact of drought restrictions in the San Diego region here.

Decline in Plant Growth Linked to Drought, Climate Change

(Adapted from WaterLink International) A 1% global shift in plant growth over the past ten years has emerged from satellite data collected by NASA-funded researchers Maosheng Zhao and Steven Running of the University of Montana in Missoula, USA. Compared with a 6% increase spanning two earlier decades, the recent decline is slight, but could impact food, biofuels and the global carbon cycle.

The discovery comes from an analysis of plant productivity data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Terra satellite, combined with growing season climate variables including temperature, solar radiation and water. The plant and climate data are factored into an algorithm that describes constraints on plant growth at different geographical locations.

For example, growth is generally limited in high latitudes by temperature and in deserts by water. But regional limitations can vary in their degree of impact on growth throughout the growing season.

According to Steven Running, the outcome is a bit of a surprise, and potentially significant on a policy level as previous interpretations suggested that global warming might actually help plant growth around the world. He thinks these results are extraordinarily significant because they show that the global net effect of climatic warming on the productivity of terrestrial vegetation need not be positive as was documented for the 1980's and 1990's.  Read the full article here.

Water Use Legislation Should be Greener: UN

scales-of-justiceGovernments and law-makers need to integrate environmental concerns into water-use legislation to avert an impending global water crisis, according to a new report from the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), titled 'Greening Water Law'. According to the report, competition is increasing between the rapidly growing human population-which needs water for drinking, sanitation, food production and economic development-and species and ecosystems, which rely on water to sustain their existence.

The key challenge now facing governments across the world is how to meet the growing water needs of human society, while maintaining freshwater ecosystems and supporting environmental sustainability.

Nearly 1.8 million children under the age of five die annually from diarrheal diseases (such as cholera, typhoid, and dysentery) attributable to a lack of safe drinking water and basic sanitation. The UNEP report warns that if the international community fails to take action to improve freshwater supplies for drinking, sanitation, and hygiene purposes, as many as 135 million preventable deaths could occur by 2020.

The unsustainable use of freshwater is a major contributor to biodiversity loss - and the effects are being felt in rivers, lakes and wetlands across the world. In North America, for example, around 27% of continental freshwater fauna populations are now threatened with extinction as a result of depleted and contaminated freshwater resources. And in Croatia, over a third of all freshwater fish species are currently under threat.  Read more here.

CALGreen Building Codes To Take Effect in Early 2011

All residential and commercial building department permit submittals in California are required to comply with the new CALGreen building code starting on January 11, 2011. Included in the new building code are a wide range of sustainability measures in planning, design, energy, water efficiency, materials and resources, commissioning and environmental air quality.

CALGreen encourages more sustainable and eco-friendly building practices by placing limits on the substances that can cause harm to the environment, encouraging the conservation of natural resources and promoting the use of more efficient materials and equipment.

Learn more about the CALGreen building code here.

Southern Nevada Water Authority Landscape Rebate Program Receives BOR Funding

las-vegasThe Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) will expand its landscape rebate program, which provides a financial incentive for residential property owners to replace turf with water-efficient landscaping. SNWA has received Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) funding of $1,000,000 for this effort and the total project cost is estimated to be $10,550,000.

Under the SNWA program, a deed of covenant ensures that no turf will be installed in the project area following retrofit. This expansion of the program is projected to result in savings of approximately 1,390 acre-feet of water annually. Water conserved through this project will be used to help meet current and future demands in the face of sustained drought in the Colorado River Basin.   Learn more about the BOR WaterSMART Grant Program here.

Scientists Hope to Improve Drought Tolerance in Plants

corn-stalk-sketchA team of scientists has made a significant advance on last year's discovery by Sean Cutler of the University of California-Riverside of pyrabactin, a synthetic chemical that mimics a naturally produced stress hormone in plants to help them cope with drought conditions.

Led by researchers at The Medical College of Wisconsin, the scientists reported in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology (online) on Aug. 22 that by understanding how pyrabactin works, other more effective chemicals for bringing drought-resistance to plants can be developed more readily.

Plants naturally produce a stress hormone, abscisic acid (ABA), in modest amounts to help them survive drought by inhibiting growth. ABA has already been commercialized for agricultural use. But it has at least two disadvantages: It is light-sensitive and costly to make.

Pyrabactin, on the other hand, is relatively inexpensive, easy to make, and not sensitive to light. But its drawback is that, unlike ABA, it does not turn on all the "receptors" in the plant that need to be activated for drought-tolerance to fully take hold.

Improving the drought-resistance of plants is an important step in reducing the overall water requirement of crops in both the urban and agricultural settings.  Read more about this research here.

Montana Issues Water and Energy Saving CD for Small Systems

MontanaThe Montana Technical Assistance Center at the Montana Water Center has just released a new national training CD for small public water systems titled "Saving Water and Energy in Small Water Systems."

The CD contains four 45-minute training modules. These cover customer water conservation programs, energy management for small water systems, alternative energy sources and water accounting -- audits and leak detection. Each presentation explains the topic's importance, steps to take to save money, water and/or energy, pertinent laws and regulations and an extensive resource list for more information.

Each module also presents one or more case studies highlighting the experiences of small systems. These modules are designed to be presented by trainers in a classroom or workshop setting, although system operators may benefit from self-study. CDs are being distributed to state drinking-water administrators and technical-assistance organizations.

Additional CDs are available from the National Environmental Services Center. Call (800) 624-8301 and ask for product #DWCDTR29. The modules and associated resource files can also be downloaded from the Montana Water Center website.

Irrigation with Groundwater Cools the Climate, but Long-Term Sustainability is Questioned

red-hand-pumpExpanding irrigation is helping feed the world's billions of people and may even mask global warming, but the future could bring problems, scientists suggest.

Research conducted at Columbia University indicates some major groundwater aquifers, a source of irrigation water, will dry up in the future hitting people with the double blow of food shortages and higher temperatures, an article in the journal Geophysical Research says.

"Irrigation can have a significant cooling effect on regional temperatures, where people live," Michael Puma, a university hydrologist, said. "An important question for the future is what happens to the climate if the water goes dry and the cooling disappears? How much warming is being hidden by irrigation?"

Pumping huge amounts of heat-absorbing groundwater onto crops, researchers say, is lowering temperatures in some regions -- for now.  Globally, irrigation's effect on climate is small, about 0.2 degree F. But regionally, the cooling can match or exceed the impacts of greenhouse gases, the scientists reported.

Irrigation has increased across the globe because it boosts crop yields, supporting many millions of small farmers. But concern is growing that groundwater supplies in places like India and China may not keep up.  Read more here. 

U. of Hawaii Promotes Rain Barrels

rain-barrelOn the Hawaiian Islands, a recent drought has impacted water supplies and capturing rainwater for irrigation is becoming an important water conservation measure.  At the University of Hawaii's Urban Garden Center in Pearl City, UH master gardeners are learning about saving rain water from Honolulu Board of Water Supply watershed specialists. The agency estimates that 50 percent of water use occurs outdoors. Rain barrels, constructed from recycled food-grade barrels and several ingenious plumbing components, capture rainwater for use in irrigating trees and shrubs in the home garden.

According to the UH experts, a rain barrel can be outfitted with a soaker hose. Spacing the soaker hose 3 to 4 inches from the base of plants encourages new root systems to grow toward the drip line. Three inches of mulch applied on top on the soaker hose and around the base of the plants prevents water from evaporating.

Planting a native plant, laying soaker hoses that drip water and applying a thick layer of mulch are the key ingredients UH promotes for water-wise gardening.  Learn more here.

News Briefs and Web Links

  • New Report ID’s where California’s next 1,000,000 acre-feet of water savings can be found - A new analysis from the Pacific Institute recommends specific actions that can save a million acre-feet of water per year quickly and at a lower economic and ecological cost than developing new supplies. The assessment notes that new actions are immediately needed to address California's persistent water supply challenges -- but it makes the most sense to do the most effective things first.  Learn more and download the report here.
  • Imagine H2O offer $100K in Prize Money for Water/Energy Saving Business Plans – Imagine H2O announced a global competition with $100,000 in prize money for the world’s most promising water businesses that save energy.  A detailed business plan must be submitted by November 15, 2010 to enter.  To learn more and to enter the competition click here.
  • Learn Which Energy Generation Methods Use the Least Water – A recent Circle of Blue article compiles the consumed gallons per megawatt hour produced for different solar and conventional energy generation technologies.  Most solar technologies use substantially less water than gas or coal fired power plants, but several solar technologies consume more water.  Get all the details here.
  • Virginia County Imposes Water Restrictions - Historically low water levels in Lake Chesdin have prompted Chesterfield County, Virginia, to issue mandatory water restrictions on all water customers.  Outdoor watering is limited to three days per week by address. When it’s full, Lake Chesdin holds about 10 billion gallons. When flow in the river is low, the reservoir is required to release the water that comes into it daily. In previous years, low water levels have hit in October. Reservoir operators are concerned about low water levels so early in the season.
  • Sioux Falls Sees 18% Reduction in Use Since 2003 - Like many cities in the US, Sioux Falls, South Dakota has experienced an 18 percent reduction in demand since 2003 even as population has increased, according to Greg Anderson, city water superintendent.  Anderson commented on water use trends as he checked out water efficient products as part of American Standard’s “Responsible Bathroom Water Conservation Tour”.   The City is looking for way to ease the burden on Sioux Falls residents' pocket books as the city's water rates increased 14.5 percent in the past two years and will increase 14.5 percent in 2011. Learn more about the Sioux Falls water utility here.
  • Wyoming-Colorado Pipeline Review to Stretch an Extra 4 Years - The Army Corps of Engineers has extended by about four years the time it will take to study a $3 billion plan to pipe water from Flaming Gorge Reservoir in southwest Wyoming to Colorado.  Rena Brand, the corps' project manager for the plan, said the proposal requires more time because it is so complex.  Brand said a draft environmental impact statement on the project will be released in 2016, rather than in 2012 as originally planned, and a final decision by the corps will be released about 2018 instead of 2014.
  • Toilet Paper to Come with Free Toilet Displacement Insert - Using a marketing scheme perfected by the breakfast cereal and caramel popcorn industries, Kimberly-Clark’s Scott Naturals brand is giving away 750,000 Scott “SmartFlush” toilet-tank inserts over the next two months.  The company claims these toilet displacement bags can save a typical family of four 2,000 gallons of water a year, reports AdAge.com. The green-themed promotion is supported by national TV, print and in-store advertising.  Will flushing problems ensue?  We’ll find out in the next few months.  Learn more about the displacement bag give-away here.
  • EU Mandates Energy Efficiency Ratings for All Home Sales - Legislation in the European Union (EU) will now make it compulsory for energy efficiency ratings to be published in all United Kingdom (UK) homes advertised for sale beginning in 2012. At the moment, homeowners are required to commission an energy performance certificate before putting a property on the market, but the results may not be available when potential purchasers first view it. Beginning in 2010, the EU Directive will make it compulsory for the ratings to be published upfront. The legislation will effectively put a green, amber, or red energy efficiency grading on every “For Sale” board in the UK, helping the government in its plans to reduce household carbon emissions by 29% by 2020. Read more here.
  • World Water Week Opens in Stockholm with Dire Warning - World Water Week opened in Stockholm on September 6 with a dire warning: time is running out faster than fresh water. If the "massive and complex challenges" facing one of the world's most finite natural resources are not resolved soon, the future looks grim with scarcities, pollution, droughts, floods, desertification and diseases.  Read more here.
  • Bottled Water:  The Bad Press Continues -- The Earth Policy Institute estimates that it takes more than 1.5 million barrels of oil a year to make water bottles for American consumption, and less than 15 percent of the bottles are recycled.  Energy and water quality are also concerns.  Read more about bottled water here.
  • India Cancels Ganges Tributary Dam - India's central government cancelled a dam project on a Ganges River tributary last week, after the leading partner in the ruling coalition intervened because of environmental and religious concerns. The 600MW project is the third on the river scrapped because of environmental and religious pressure.  Read more here.
  • Irrigation Ban Lifted in Western Australia - The winter sprinkler ban has been lifted in parts of Western Australia, including Perth and Mandurah, but members of the public have been urged to resist turning on their sprinklers. During the three month sprinkler ban, the Water Corporation had to issue 3,232 violation warnings and 22 citations.

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.

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.