Water Efficiency Watch - April 2024

In this issue...

  • Meet Our New Board Members
  • 2024 Water Efficiency & Conservation Symposium
  • Regional Member Roundtables
  • Research Updates
  • Policy Updates
  • News from Members and Partners
  • News Briefs

AWE Board of Directors

Introducing Our New Board Chair

We were thrilled to kick off the new year by introducing Karen Guz as the new AWE Board of Directors chairperson! Karen's expertise and passion for water conservation and efficiency have been such a valuable addition to our board over the years, and we are honored she has chosen to take on this role with us. Karen currently serves as the Vice President of Water Conservation for the San Antonio Water System and is a trusted, prominent leader not only in San Antonio, TX, but throughout the Lone Star State and across the country.

Interested in hearing about Karen's vision for AWE in 2024? Click here to read her first letter as our Board Chair.

Introducing Our New Slate of Board Members

In addition to welcoming Karen as our new Board Chair, we also onboarded a cohort of new officers and board members to the AWE board. We are excited to have such a diversity of regions, perspectives, and areas of expertise added to our board with the addition of each of these leaders. Please join us in welcoming:

- Board Chair: Karen Guz of San Antonio Water System
- Vice Chair: Colwyn Sunderland of Kerr Wood Leidal Associates Ltd.
- Secretary: Jennifer Walker of National Wildlife Federation
- Treasurer: Bill McDonnell recently retired from Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
- Troy Benavidez of LIXIL
- Doug Bennett of Washington County Water Conservancy District
- Christine Chavez of City of Santa Fe
- Krista Guerrero of Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
- Carol Kauffman of Ohio Environmental Council
- Richard Maloy of Central Utah Water Conservancy District
- Summer Ortiz of Southern Nevada Water Authority

(Pictured here: a few of AWE’s Board and staff members at our March board meeting)

Regional Member Roundtables

In February, we had the pleasure of hosting Regional Member Roundtables every Thursday throughout the month. These two-hour virtual gatherings provided members a space to connect with others in their region, hear lightning-round presentations from colleagues engaging the region’s topic, and break into small groups to dig further into the topic. Thank you to everyone who participated and to our incredible slate of speakers. If you missed the chance to participate in your region’s roundtable but would like to review the notes and slide deck from the gathering, please contact Kelly.

  • American Southwest 
    Topic: Landscape Transformation & Non-Functional Turf

    Presenters: Diana Denwood, City of Aurora; Krista Guerrero, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California; Kelly Kopp, Utah State University, Center for Water Efficient Landscaping
  • American Northwest
    ​Topic: Landscape Transformation & Non-Functional Turf
    Presenters: Dan Denning, City of Bend; Darren Nowels, Northern Water; Amanda Strack, Central Utah Water Conservancy District
  • American Southeast 
    ​Topic: Landscape Transformation & Non-Functional Turf
    Presenters: Deirdre Irwin, St. John's River Management; Brian Schwartz, University of Georgia, Turfgrass Innovations
  • American Great Lakes and Northeast 
    Topic: The Role of Water Conservation in Managing Infrastructure and Affordability Amidst Population Decline

    Presenters: Justin Keller, Elevate NFP; Julie Mechling, Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority
  • Canada 
    Topic: The Role of Water Conservation in Managing Population Growth 
    Presenters: Heather Zarski, EPCOR; Steve Yessie and Liana D'Andrea, City of Guelph

2024 Water Efficiency & Conservation Symposium

We started the year strong with preparations for our 2nd Annual Water Efficiency & Conservation Symposium. Thank you to everyone who submitted an abstract or an award nomination for our consideration. Early bird registration is now open, so we invite you to take advantage of the discounted rates before the prices increase and tickets run out!

Building on the success of the inaugural event, the 2024 Symposium promises to deliver the high quality you have come to expect from AWE events. Engage in three days of professional development, meaningful relationship building, and idea sharing. The program will include a diverse range of short presentations, panels, and roundtables, emphasizing actionable research, resources, and peer-to-peer learning tailored for water efficiency and sustainability professionals. Explore this year’s core program topics here.

Symposium Sponsorship Packages

Looking for a way to make a splash at the upcoming Symposium? Consider joining us as a sponsor! Sponsorship allows your organization or company to network and collaborate with some of the water conservation field's most trusted leaders while providing you with various marketing and exposure opportunities. Details showcasing the various sponsorship packages are available here.

Several sponsorship packages are available, including Presenting, Gold, Silver, and Bronze sponsorship packages in addition to ala carte options. More details can be found here. If you have questions or want to explore the right sponsorship level for your company or organization, please email Rachel Austin DeBruin.

2024 Symposium Sponsors

A hearty thank you to all the generous sponsors who are partnering with us to host the 2024 event!

Research Updates

Phase 3 of Outdoor Water Research Initiative 

AWE kicked off the Market Readiness Assessment for the Large-scale Landscapes Research Project with Mountain Data Group. This assessment builds off from our previous residential study in 2019, and aims to evaluate the willingness of property owners to implement large-scale landscape transformations and what factors are important to them in making these decisions. It will also explore what factors facilitate or delay the market’s transformations to water-efficient landscapes across market stakeholders, seeking perspectives from landscape and irrigation professionals, contractors, and consultants. 

Mobile Home Retrofit and Repairs in the City of Thornton, CO 

Our team secured a partnership with Mile High Youth Corps to conduct retrofit and repairs in a mobile home park community in the City of Thornton, CO. The work is scheduled to kick off in early Summer 2024. This work will be conducted as a part of our ongoing project, Understanding Water Use in Mobile Homes, funded by the Colorado Water Conservation Board. The study will also explore the barriers, challenges, equity considerations, and opportunities for advancing water conservation and efficiency in mobile home parks across Thornton, Colorado Springs, and Fountain, CO. 

New Report: Water Affordability Assessment in the City of Santa Barbara 

Our latest report, An Assessment of Water Affordability and Conservation Potential in the City of Santa Barbara, evaluates water affordability in Santa Barbara and the extent to which water efficiency and conservation strategies can help families manage their water and wastewater bills, especially in California-designated DAC communities. This study leveraged Census data, monthly household-level water consumption, and water and wastewater billing data to reveal impacts on the lowest-income households and the variation in affordability issues across different areas of the City. By coupling data analysis with local community perspectives through a community engagement process, the study advises on how to improve water affordability and expand access to resources in historically underserved communities. Learn more and access the full report here.  

Cooling Tower Learning Cohort: Key Insights and Resources 

AWE recently wrapped up a learning cohort focused on Cooling Tower Efficiency alongside 15 of our members. The learning cohort consisted of utilities that met seven times from January 2023 through January 2024 to work through the cooling technology research and resources, share experiences and information, and learn from each other and from invited guests with relevant subject matter expertise. Based on this work, the cohort prepared this capstone report to highlight the resources, key insights, and some utility examples of their programs and changes resulting from participating in the learning cohort. Learn more and access the full report here.  

New Project: Evaluating Peak Demand Management Strategies 

In February, we launched our latest research study, “Evaluating Changes in Peak Demand and How That May Affect the Choice, Design, Management, and Evaluation of Demand Management Strategies,” with generous funding from the Water Research Foundation. This project will evaluate peak demand management strategies from the six participants to understand their costs and benefits and which water efficiency and conservation strategies are most useful to reduce peak demands. The utilities include the San Antonio Water System; New Jersey American Water; Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District; Region of Peel Public Works, Ontario, Canada; California Water Service; and the City of Westminster, CO. This research will help water utilities across North America understand peak demands trends and patterns, learn how climate change and changing patterns influence peak demands, avoid expenditures and minimize water bills, and extend existing water supplies and infrastructure. 

New Project: Innovation in Water Conservation Best Management Practices in the State of Michigan 

AWE is excited to work with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) to identify and evaluate innovations and technological advancements in water conservation best management practices across the State’s water use sectors. This project will inform the State of Michigan Water Use Program and Michigan’s Water Conservation and Efficiency Program, as well as advance progress toward achieving Michigan’s water conservation and efficiency goals and objectives under the Great Lakes Compact. AWE will take on this project with support from the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance and H.W. (Bill) Hoffman & Associates, LLC. 

Policy Updates

Non-Functional Turf: 2023 Summary of Programs and Policies

There is growing interest in saving water by limiting what has come to be known as “non-functional turf” (NFT). This is especially true in the Western United States, where climate change and persistent drought are straining water supplies. AWE’s report, Non-Functional Turf: 2023 Summary of Programs and Policies, is a culmination of our work with water agencies from across the Colorado River Basin, who signed a joint memorandum of understanding in late 2022, committing to take additional actions to increase water efficiency to help protect and conserve water in the CRB region. Learn more and access the full report here.  

Engaging with WaterSense on Draft Specifications for Water-Efficient Products 

In partnership with our WaterSense Water-Efficient Products Advisory Committee, we developed and submitted supportive comments on WaterSense’s draft specifications for spray sprinkler nozzles and tank-type toilets. In the spray sprinkler nozzle comments, we encouraged WaterSense to explore product labeling and packaging changes to ensure predictable, significant, and cost‐effective water savings. In the tank-type toilet comments, AWE supported WaterSense finalizing the Draft Specification because it will improve the water efficiency of WaterSense labeled dual‐flush tank‐type toilets. 

Launched Policy Development Group for WaterSense Home Incentives 

We recently began convening a working group that is meeting to discuss federal, state, and local incentive policies to encourage more homebuilders to seek the WaterSense Homes label for water efficiency. The group is initially exploring creating a new federal tax credit for WaterSense Homes similar to the $2,500 federal tax credit already available for EnergyStar Homes. This group’s work will culminate later in 2024 with a policy paper, which will serve as the foundation for federal, state, and local advocacy.  

Eliminating Federal Taxes on Water Efficient Rebates 

We have continued to link arms with partners in this space to advocate for legislation excluding water efficiency rebates from income and, therefore, federal income taxes. A similar law already exists for energy efficiency, and it is time for water efficiency to receive the same treatment. We also continue to communicate with the broader public on this, like in AWE President and CEO Ron Burke’s recent article Water Efficiency Rebates Are Taxed Despite the Need to Save Water and Reduce Costs.  We will advocate for this important issue until the tax code is amended.  

Recent Webinars 

Maximizing Your Member-Only Benefits | Tuesday, March 5, 2024

In March, we hosted a webinar highlighting the exclusive discounts available to AWE members on products and services offered by some of the most sought-after companies in the industry! This hour-long webinar featured brief presentations from AIQEOUS, Eagle Aerial Solutions, Flume, Rachio, Radian Developers, Rain Bird, and Yoppify, where they shared an overview of their product or service, the exclusive discount available to AWE members and the next steps for utilities interested in exploring a partnership.

The recording is available on our YouTube channel here.

Irrigation After Landscape Conversions | Tuesday, February 20, 2024

In February, we cohosted a webinar with our partners at EPA WaterSense. Landscape transformation programs have exploded in popularity in recent years, but what does it look like to maintain a water-efficient landscape after the conversion? Tune into this webinar recording to hear from AWE member, Southern Nevada Water Authority as they trends in outdoor water use after landscape conversions and the irrigation tools they utilize to help realize water savings. 

The recording is available on our YouTube here.

AWE Member Achievements & Awards

The City of San Luis Obispo Achieves Platinum Status

Announcing the newest addition to the G480 Leaderboard: City of San Luis Obispo! We are proud to share that the City of San Luis Obispo has recently achieved Platinum Status, the highest level of recognition under the AWWA G480-20 Water Conservation and Efficiency Program Operation and Management Standard.

Platinum Status is only attained by members who have demonstrated that conservation and efficiency have been incorporated into the most critical aspects of their supply-side and demand management approach. Planning elements such as billing and rates, customer education, conservation programs, and water loss control programs are just a few elements required under the G480-20 Standard—each of which requires significant resources, staff time, and planning.

“The City of San Luis Obispo is pleased to achieve Platinum status for our water conservation program. This accomplishment reflects our ongoing commitment to responsible water management, made possible through the collective efforts of our populace. We appreciate the collaborative spirit of our community members, businesses, civic groups, and City staff in achieving this milestone, and we remain dedicated to advancing sustainable practices for the benefit of our city”. – Mayor Erica Stewart

Congratulations, City of San Luis Obispo! Want to follow in SLO's footsteps? Learn more about AWE's G480 verification for members here.

City of Westminster, CO featured in a Recent Interview

Drew Beckwith, the Senior Water Resources Analyst for the City of Westminster, Colorado, was recently featured in a dynamic conversation with Erin Christy, President of SEW, to discuss water conservation, community, and sustainability. Click here to listen to Drew share the City of Westminster's insights for cities and councils. This 25-minute interview contains a treasure trove of actionable ideas, helpful resources, and lessons learned from deploying a wide range of water conservation strategies.

Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency Releases New Report

SCV Water and the University of Southern California Dornsife Public Exchange recently published a final report on their partnership aimed at reducing residential water use in the Santa Clarita Valley. This report is full to the gills with compelling quantitative and qualitative data as well as a range of actionable recommendations that communities across North America can benefit from.

Great job to the SCV Water team for all of their hard work on this! If you joined us for the 2023 Water Efficiency and Conservation Symposium, you may have had the chance to sit in on a session with SCV Water’s own Matt Dickens and Julia Grothe, where they shared how their insights from this study are shaping their communications strategies and helping SCV Water design new programs and outreach efforts to mobilize community participation in their water conservation programs. Read the report.


Groundwater is Rapidly Depleting Worldwide, but it’s a Story of Good and Bad News. Read More.
Washington State Drinking Water, Hydropower at Risk as Snowpack Shrinks. Read More.
The United Nations Releases a Climate Dictionary. Read More.
Trillions of Gallons Leaking from Aging Drinking Water Systems. Read More.  
Another Hot, Dry Summer May Push Water Supplies in Parts of Texas to the Brink.
Read More.
Land of the Free, Home of the Inefficient: Appliance Standards as Culture War Target. Read more.
California Approves Direct Potable Water Reuse Regulations. Read More.