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...

Efficiency Landmark! Federal Law Enacting WaterSense Appears Imminent 

WS Promo LogoAfter years of futility, a long sought victory in Washington is about to be won. Congress is on the verge of making the EPA WaterSense program a part of federal law for the first time, lifting this highly successful public-private partnership from its current status as a “discretionary” program at the U.S. EPA to federal legal status.

 The US House of Representatives has already approved this change as part of a massive America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 which has been through the conference committee process. The US Senate is expected to pass the bill in the coming weeks and send to the White House before adjourning at the end of September.

Once WaterSense is enacted into law, it will qualify for annual appropriations rather than being funded at the discretion of the EPA administrator. In the meantime, both the House and Senate have passed an EPA spending bill that instructs the EPA to continue operating WaterSense throughout fiscal 2019, which begins October 1.

The WaterSense® program, a voluntary public-private partnership that has saved American consumers more than $46 billion on their water and energy bills since 2006., is about to become part of federal law for the first time ever.

Mary Ann Dickinson, CEO of the Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE) was instrumental in the creation of the WaterSense program.  AWE has been a major supporter of the program ever since it was founded. The first AWE Water Star Award was given to John Flowers of the US EPA who helped created the WaterSense program. Along with its members and partners, AWE has lead the effort to urge Congress to make WaterSense part of federal law.  Final enactment will be a long fought victory.
congress-flag“We are ecstatic that Congress is giving its stamp of approval to WaterSense,” said Dickinson. “We continue to believe that this successful public/private partnership is the most effective and efficient way to help Americans save water by choosing water efficient products and services certified to carry the WaterSense label.”

With its expected enactment, the water infrastructure bill will incorporate WaterSense into the federal Energy Policy and Conservation Act. (42 U.S.C. 6201) as a new Section 324b. It will then qualify for annual appropriations rather than having to rely on the EPA administrator’s discretionary funds each year. Until separate funding measures are enacted, both the House and Senate have included instructions in the pending EPA spending bills directing the EPA to continue funding WaterSense from available fund.

Assuming all goes smoothly, final passage of the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 could happen by early October.

LA Conservation Analysis Shows Long Term Benefits to Rate Payers 

LARPT_CoverSmA new study found that customer bills in Los Angeles are nearly 27% lower today than they would have been in the absence of conservation.  The new study released by the California Water Efficiency Partnership (CalWEP) and Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE) in partnership with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) found substantial long term benefits from demand reductions for rate payers.

“Many customers and water professionals are perplexed by rate increases when system-wide water use goes down, and blame water conservation and efficiency as the culprit for higher rates,” said CalWEP Executive Director Mary Ann Dickinson. “This study shows that water conservation really can pay off for ratepayers over the long term.”

The report, Lower Water Bills: The City of Los Angeles Shows How Water Conservation and Efficient Water Rates Produce Affordable and Sustainable Use was prepared by A&N Technical Services and it analyzed LADWP’s water conservation efforts and impact over the past several decades.

Los_Angeles_Skyline-LADWP provides water to more than 4 million residents in the City of Los Angeles. Over the years, LADWP has been a leader in water efficiency and conservation. In addition to conservation programs, LADWP also utilizes water rate structures that encourage efficient water use, billing customers for only the actual amount of water they use (rather than billing a fixed rate in combination with volumetric rate, as many California water providers do).

With these programs in place, LADWP customers reduced their water use from 180 gallons per capita per day (GPCD) in 1990 to 106 GPCD in 2016--even as the population increased from 3.5 to 4 million people.

As water use decreased, LADWP avoided roughly $11 billion in costs from 1990 to 2016 that would have come from having to purchase additional water to serve 500,000 more people, the study found. The result: Customer bills are nearly 27 percent lower today than they would have been without the department’s efficient rates and conservation efforts.

“LADWP’s case study clearly shows that it’s time to stop blaming water conservation for rate increases,” Dickinson said. “Conservation and efficient rates pays off long-term through lower utility operating costs, and ultimately can lower the cost burden on customers.”

Colorado River Crisis – Lake Mead at 38%, Lake Powell Down 34 feet in 1 Year, Arizona Prepares for Colorado River Cutbacks 

“From 2000 through the end of 2018 (projected), Lake Powell’s elevation will have dropped approximately 94 feet despite Upper Basin consumption only averaging about 4.5 million acre-feet (maf)/year. Several particularly dry years—including 2018—in a process of continuing aridification contributed to the drop, but ultimately it is the operational rules that are slowly but surely draining Lake Powell.” - from the a new white paper – It’s hard to fill a bathtub when the drain is wide open: The case of Lake Powell by the Colorado River Research Group.

Lake Powell water levels - sept 2017 - 18As the water efficiency world prepares to meet on the shores of Lake Mead in Las Vegas next month, the massive reservoir on the Colorado River stands at just 38% of capacity. The only reason Lake Mead hasn’t dropped further is because Lake Powell is being drained.

Writer John Fleck puts the blame squarely on water use in the Lower Colorado Basin. “The Lower Colorado River Basin has gotten 10 million acre feet of “bonus water” since 2000, above and beyond its entitlement under the Colorado River Compact,” Fleck wrote in an August 2018 blog post. ”But we’re about to have a formal shortage declaration because the Lower Basin keeps using more water than it perhaps ought to.”

In Arizona, ground-zero for a Colorado River shortage, AZ DWR Director Tom Buschatzke, CAP General Ted Cooke – two agencies known for internal bickering – took the unusual step of issuing a joint statement to explain why a declining Colorado River means painful cutbacks for the “Grand Canyon State”. 

WaterSmart Innovations 2018 Preview 

AWE Day at WSI – October 2 

Committee meeting at WSI

Water efficiency professionals and AWE members from around the US will be gathering in Las Vegas for the 11th annual Water Smart Innovations conference, to be held October 3-5. Although the conference starts on October 3, many will arrive on or before Tuesday, October 2 to attend AWE’s Annual Member Meeting and the annual in-person national committee meetings. 

Here is the schedule of events for October 2:

LogeThis year, the AWE Annual Member Meeting will feature speaker Frank Loge, Ph.D., P.E., Director of the University of California Davis Center for Water-Energy Efficiency. Prof. Loge will discuss "Water and Energy and Water in Wine." The meeting is open to all Alliance for Water Efficiency members and prospective members interested in learning more about the activities of the Alliance.

After the speech, for the 5th year in a row, the best and bravest musicians in the water efficiency world with take the stage for Groundhog Days Music Night. Please contact Peter Mayer if you are interested in performing this year.

WSI 2018 Keynote – Jerry Yudelson 

jerry-yudelsonThe 2018 Water Smart Innovation conference will kick off on October 3 with a keynote address from Jerry Yudelson, an internationally-recognized LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental) Fellow and author of 14 books on green buildings, water conservation, and sustainable development.

Yudelson is a professional engineer with more than 25 years’ experience and the author of books like Reinventing Green Building: Why Certification Systems Aren’t Working and What We Can Do About It, and 2010’s Dry Run: Preventing the Next Urban Water Crisis. Dry Run laid out a comprehensive water conservation program for cities and regions while also showing how sustainable design in new building construction can reduce water demand. AWE has copies for sale.

The 2018 WSI Conference promises to be another outstanding and productive event.

Register for the WSI 2018 conference and get more info here. 

EPA WaterSense Issues Minor Update to Showerhead Specification 

WS Logo Meets CriteriaThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has updated its WaterSense Specification for Showerheads. Version 1.1 of the specification includes minor updates to reflect recent revisions to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) A112.18.1/Canadian Standards Association (CSA) B125.1 Plumbing Supply Fittings standard and provides consistency in testing and labeling of showerheads that earn the WaterSense label.

As part of this update, WaterSense has revised its showerhead specification to directly reference ASME A112.18.1/CSA B125.1, where possible, to make its testing procedures and marking requirements align with ASME/CSA's and reduce redundancy. Version 1.1 also updates the spray force test protocol to accommodate rain showers and clarifies product packaging requirements for WaterSense labeled showerheads.

Since this is a minor update, it will not affect the certification status of any currently labeled showerheads. The updates in Version 1.1 will ensure that showerheads that earn the WaterSense label continue to meet EPA's criteria for efficiency and performance. For more information or to view a copy of the revised specification, please visit the WaterSense website.

Utility Revenue Is Volatile; How Much Cash Reserve is Enough? 

FSW Logo-SmA new blog post from Bill Christiansen on the Financing Sustainable Water site examines sale revenue volatility to inform cash reserve policy.

Christiansen, who is Director of Programs at the Alliance for Water Efficiency, reviews the benefits of using AWE’s Sales Forecasting and Rate Model to understand and quantify sales and revenue volatility in the face of uncertainty.

The Alliance for Water Efficiency’s Sales Forecasting and Rate Model provides water utilities with a tool that can help understand and quantify sales and revenue volatility in the face of uncertainty.  The Revenue Simulation Module allows the user to simulate rate performance over a five-year time horizon based on weather data, growth, and probability of drought.  It is user friendly, free, and provides outputs that can be used to inform cash reserve policies. 

The AWE Sales Forecasting and Rate Model provides insight into revenue volatility by presenting many possible future outcomes and their corresponding likelihoods, rather than a single expectation.  This can be very useful when deciding on cash reserve policies.

Is Your Utility on the AWE Water Efficiency and Conservation Program Leaderboard? 

LeaderboardAWE's G480 Leaderboard recognizes exemplary water utilities that have adopted and complied with voluntary AWWA G480 Water Conservation Program Operation and Management Standards. AWE has awarded Platinum status of three water utilities.

Is your utility a leader in conservation? Fill out the G480 Checklist and provide supporting materials for each requirement that has been completed, and AWE will add you to the Leaderboard.

Learn more about the AWWA G480 Standards and how to apply for recognition here. 

Imagine a Day Without Water – October 10 

Day without waterMark your calendar for October 10 and sign up to join Imagine a Day Without Water.

Now in its fourth year, this is a designated day for everyone who cares about water to come together with one voice and ask Americans to think: Can you imagine a day without water?

Over 250 organizations have registered already. Fill out a participation form and add your organization to the list here. 

AWE & EPA Webinar:  Micro-Irrigation – October 11 

Reducing Outdoor Water Use with Micro-irrigation will be the topic of the next AWE & EPA WaterSense webinar, October 11, 2018 at 1 p.m. CDT.

Register now to hear Bernd Leinauer, Professor and Turfgrass Specialist for New Mexico State University’s Extension Plant Sciences Department, discuss the benefits of subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) systems.

Check Out the Updated AWE Business Guide 

buisness guideAWE recently published an updated version of its Business Guide, a directory of AWE’s Business & Industry members. This comprehensive handbook and directory is one of the many ways that AWE connects the business community to utility providers and municipalities.

Whether you’re seeking the latest innovations in plumbing technology, consultation on restructuring water rates, or effective strategies to communicate with and educate water users, you’ll find what you need in the Business Guide. Thank you for supporting the businesses that support the Alliance for Water Efficiency.

The Guide will be mailed in hardcopy form to all AWE members in the coming weeks, or can be downloaded as a PDF.

News Briefs and Web Links 

  • California water savings redux – The opinionated associate professor Manny Teodoro from Texas A&M compares water savings in public vs. private utilities during the California drought in an interesting series of two blogs. Teodoro Blog 1Teodoro Blog 2 
  • California’s Desert Cities Saving More than Farms and Golf Courses - Desert residents have been saving a lot of water. Farms and golf courses, not so much according to a recent article in the Coachella Desert Sun.
  • Scientists Race to Find “Red Tide” Remedy in FL Epic Florida algae blooms in 2018 have spawned scientific investigations and political recriminations. 
  • Fossil Fuel Interests Have Outspent Environmental Advocates 10:1 on Climate Lobbying – From 2000 – 2016 the fossil fuel industry, transportation companies, and energy utilities outspent environmental groups and the renewable energy industry 10 to 1, according to a new analysis published in the journal Climatic Change.
  • Farmers Struggle as Worst Drought of the Century Grips New South Wales, Australia – Drought driven by climate change forcing major changes down under.           

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.