Water Efficiency Watch January 2024

In this issue...

  • Regional Member Roundtables & the 2024 Symposium
  • Policy Updates
  • Research Updates
  • News from Members and Partners
  • News Briefs

Upcoming In-Person & Virtual Events

Regional Member Roundtables | February 2024 

Join us in February for Regional Member Roundtables! These two-hour gatherings will allow members to connect about some of the most pressing challenges and exciting opportunities facing water efficiency practitioners. Hear what's new with AWE, participate in meaningful conversations about important topics, and connect with other members local to your region.

Register by region below:

American Southwest on Thursday, February 1, from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM MST
Topic: Landscape Transformation & Non-Functional Turf

American Northwest on Thursday, February 8, from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM PST​
Topic: Landscape Transformation & Non-Functional Turf

American Southeast on Thursday, February 15, from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM EST​
Topic: Landscape Transformation & Non-Functional Turf

American Great Lakes and Northeast on Thursday, February 22, from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM EST
Topic: The Role of Water Conservation in Managing Infrastructure and Affordability Amidst Population Decline

Canada on Thursday, February 29, from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM MST
Topic: The Role of Water Conservation in Managing Population Growth 

Meetings will be held virtually. Members are encouraged to attend their respective regional meetings but are also welcome to participate in other regional meetings based on the topic of discussion. The roundtables are free for members and $50.00 for non-members.

Save the Date: August 6-8, 2024 

You won’t want to miss the 2nd Annual Water Efficiency & Conservation Symposium taking place in Chicago from August 6 to 8, 2024, at the Chicago-Kent College of Law. 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.

Early bird registration opens on April 1st.

Symposium Sponsorship Packages

We invite you to consider joining us as a 2024 Symposium sponsor. Sponsorship allows your organization or company to network and collaborate with some of the water conservation field's most trusted leaders while also providing you with an array of marketing and exposure opportunities. Details showcasing the various sponsorship packages are available here.

A range of sponsorship packages are available, including Presenting, Gold, Silver, and Bronze sponsorship packages and 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.

Policy Updates

The policy team has been working hard to develop AWE’s 2024 policy priorities, which were finalized in December 2023 in time to ramp up policy efforts in the new year.  AWE has continued our work in Congress, the Executive Branch, and with State Legislatures.

Congressional Overview

One of our top priorities continues to be working with Congresspeople nationwide to reintroduce and pass the Water Conservation Rebate Tax Parity Act, which would exempt rebates for water efficiency from federal taxation. Energy efficiency rebates and subsidies are already tax-free and securing the same favorable treatment for water efficiency will make rebate and incentive programs easier and more cost-effective for utilities and their customers. For more background on this issue, check out this podcast featuring AWE’s Senior Manager for Policy and Programs, Andrew Morris.

We are also putting together a stakeholder group to discuss concepts for legislation on water efficiency tax credits and deductions. There are long-term federal tax credits and deductions available for energy efficiency (such as the Residential Energy Efficiency Tax Credit, the Tax Credit for Energy Efficient New Homes, and the Commercial Buildings Energy-Efficiency Tax Deduction), and the idea is to develop similar or expanded versions to provide federal tax incentives for water efficiency. AWE began its outreach efforts to partners in December. If you or your organization is interested in this discussion, please get in touch with Andrew. We plan to hold our first discussion on this topic in February 2024.

Executive Branch Overview

In the final months of 2023, WaterSense released two draft specifications for public comment – Draft Version 2.0 of the WaterSense Specification for Tank-Type Toilets (see details here) and the WaterSense Draft Specification for Spray Sprinkler Nozzles (see details here). AWE’s WaterSense-Water Efficient Products Committee has been working with staff to develop comments on these draft specifications. Final comments on these draft specifications are due in the first calendar quarter of 2024. More activity is expected from WaterSense in 2024, including the possibility of a notice of intent to develop a specification for residential leak detection devices.

State Legislative Overview

In preparation for the 2024 state legislative sessions, AWE continues to support its members in the Colorado River Basin as they consider state and local policies related to limiting and replacing non-functional turf. AWE is collaborating with the Appliance Standards Awareness Project to update its model legislation to add requirements for WaterSense irrigation controllers and to improve and harmonize the water products language with the latest codes and best practices. AWE is also supporting state-level efforts from the East Coast to the West Coast and the states in the Heartland to require AWWA water loss audit and control programs. Stay tuned for updates as the state legislative sessions progress.

Research Updates

Advanced Metering Infrastructure Primer Project

The Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) Primer will highlight the many ways utilities can and do use AMI for conservation and efficiency. The project advisory committee provided guidance on the primer and gathered for their first learning cohort event to learn from fellow AWE members Moulton Niguel Water District and San Francisco Public Utilities Commission on the topic of “AMI Algorithms and Data Analytics”. AWE is currently fleshing out the developing case studies.

Would your organization like to be highlighted as an example or case study?  Please reach out to Program Coordinator Amanda Christophe.   

Conservation + Advanced Metering Infrastructure Group

The Conservation + Advanced Metering Infrastructure (CAMI) group continues to meet virtually every quarter to share and learn from each other about all things AMI. Organizations at all points along the AMI journey are welcome to attend and participate in the group! Interested members may email Amanda to be added to the roster.  

Phase 3 of Outdoor Water Research Initiative 

This multi-utility project will assess water savings from landscape transformation and irrigation optimization strategies for customers beyond single-family homes across multiple utilities. During the last quarter, the project’s 30 participants contributed water use and project data from a wide range of landscape sites to the quantitative data analysis. Through 13 individual interviews in Q4, AWE gathered key insights on common challenges, recent wins, and best practices for programs and working with landscape and irrigation stakeholders. Participants also developed the project’s Market Readiness Assessment.  

Exploring Water Affordability in the City of Santa Barbara 

The City of Santa Barbara is AWE’s most recent partner taking the critical steps to understand and address water affordability issues in their community. This study included community engagement strategies, including an in-person workshop and a bilingual survey to bring in the many voices of the City’s residents. The final report offers recommendations across four categories: rate structure, water conservation, bill assistance, and public outreach with strategies to mitigate water affordability challenges.

Are you interested in learning more about affordability in your community? Please reach out to Liesel Hans, Director of Programs.

Peak Demands Research Initiative 

This project will assess trends in peak demands across multiple utilities and geographies and assess water demand management strategies aimed at reducing peak demand.  AWE is proud to have received funding from the Water Research Foundation and finalized utility participants. This research effort was identified as a priority for the Alliance for Water Efficiency’s Research Committee. Stay tuned for this project’s launch, which is expected in February 2024! 

Recent Webinars 

Bringing Water Savings to Your Community with WaterSense Labeled Homes | October 18, 2023

In October, we cohosted a webinar with our partners at EPA WaterSense highlighting their WaterSense-Labeled Homes program. The webinar covered how changes to the program have created new opportunities for builders and communities that are looking to meet the demand for water and sustain growth in their communities. Tune in to hear an overview of the WaterSense labeled homes certification process, how WaterSense-labeled homes use less water outdoors, and local governments' incentives for water-efficient homes.

The recording is available on our here.

AWE's Best of 2023 Webinars

Looking to kick off the year with a few hours of professional development? Consider catching up on one of our webinars that you may have missed from 2023. Last year, we hosted nearly a dozen webinars on a range of topics. The most popular webinars include the 2022 State Scorecard for Water Efficiency and Sustainability, Planting Trees for the Future, and All of the Above: Local and National Water Affordability Strategies.

Peruse the full library of AWE webinar recordings, free and available to stream anytime on our YouTube channel.

AWE Member Achievements & Awards

Toho Water Authority Achieves Platinum Status

Congratulations are in order for Toho Water Authority in attaining Platinum Status! We are excited to celebrate Toho Water Authority's achievement of earning the highest status under the ANSI-AWWA G480 Water Conservation and Efficiency Program Operation and Management Standard. Platinum Status demonstrates Toho Water Authority's steadfast commitment to water conservation and efficiency through both their supply-side and demand-side management.

"This designation recognizes Toho’s commitment to the community we serve – to ensure the availability of water that is essential for all life – humans, plants, and animals alike; therefore, if water is essential for life, then the use of water efficiently must be a way of life. The Toho water efficiency programs are a key element of our water management strategy and represent the most readily available, least expensive, and most environmentally sound water source to meet the needs of our growing, vibrant community." - Jacqueline Torbert, VP of Stakeholder Services for Toho Water Authority.

Interested in learning how AWE can support you in earning a G480 certification of your own? Learn more here.

East Bay Municipal Utility District Achieves Gold Status

Congratulations to East Bay Municipal Utility District for achieving the Gold Status under the ANSI-AWWA G480 Standard. Gold Status demonstrates that conservation and efficiency have been prioritized and integrated into supply-side and demand-side management. Planning elements such as customer education, conservation programs, and water loss control programs, are just a few examples of elements required under the G480-20 Standard—each of which requires significant resources, staff time, and planning. Addressing these elements, as well as the others required under the standard, demonstrates EBMUD’s commitment to being a leader in conservation.

“We are honored to receive the AWE Gold Verification Status," said EBMUD Manager of Water Conservation Charles Bohlig. “We have a very hard-working and dedicated team, and to have their efforts recognized with this award is really a testament to the professionalism, commitment, and exceptional quality of work they consistently deliver.”

Whirlpool Named One of America’s Greenest Companies

Congratulations to Whirlpool Corporation for being named among the 25 Greenest Companies in the Country by Newsweek at the end of 2023. Whirlpool is one of AWE’s Charter Sponsors and has been a member since 2008, in addition to receiving our Member of the Year award in 2022.

“We are honored to receive this recognition from Newsweek, which is a testament to the company's long-standing commitment to environmental sustainability. Our employees work every day to improve life at home for our consumers by delivering products that are water and energy-efficient without compromising performance,' said Pam Klyn, Whirlpool executive vice president of corporate relations and sustainability. 'We take proactive steps to ensure we're doing all we can to protect the environment in the communities where we operate and the planet as a whole.”

WaterSense 2023 Awards Winners

We had the pleasure of accepting a WaterSense Award alongside so many of our member organizations at WSI last week. Of the 47 awards presented by EPA WaterSense, 33 are AWE members including:

Athens-Clarke County Public Utilities Department Water Conservation Office, The City of Charlottesville, City of Durham Water Management, City of Plano, City of Sacramento Department of Utilities, Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District, Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District, Kohler, Harris-Galveston Subsidence District, Houston Public Works, Rancho Water, Valley Water, Tarrant Regional Water District, Vallecitos Water District, Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership, Niagara, City of Big Bear Lake Department of Water and Power, Irvine Ranch Water District, Monte Vista Water District, San Diego County Water Authority, Sacramento Suburban Water District, Cobb County Water System, Alameda County Water District; California Water Service; City of Flagstaff, Water Conservation Program; City of Tucson, Marin Water, San Dieguito Water District,  Tampa Bay Water, Hunter Industries, SCV Water, and Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.  

Congratulations to all of the awardees on a job well done. Learn more about all the 2023 Award winners by visiting the WaterSense website.

Upcoming Partner Events

California Irrigation Institute Conference

Join the California Irrigation Institute, February 26 – 27, 2024 in Sacramento, California for their 62nd Annual CII Conference, which will examine the theme “Fluid Futures: Adapting to Extremes”. Presentations will address an array of topics related to the future of agriculture and urban irrigation, including managing water supplies in an era of extreme weather and exploring the role of AI and “big data” in water resource management. Save $50 with early-bird registration if you sign up by February 9th! Visit the CII website to register and view the complete program.

Harris-Galveston Subsidence District Opens Registration for the Gulf Coast Water Conservation Symposium

Save the date for the Gulf Coast Water Conservation Symposium on February 22, 2024, in Houston, Texas. The one-day program will feature information on implementing successful water conservation programs, funding opportunities for water conservation projects, ways to engage customers effectively, and how to plan for the future. Dr. Robert Mace, Executive Director and Chief Water Policy Office for the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University, will serve as the keynote speaker for the 2024 event. Click here for more details & registration information.

WateReuse 2024 Symposium

Don’t forget to register by February 27th  to join us at the 2024 WateReuse Symposium, taking place March 11-14 in Denver, Colorado! The theme for the Symposium is Removing Barriers, Elevating Opportunities. The premier event in water recycling includes over 100 hours of sessions on the latest water reuse topics, including potable, agricultural, industrial, and onsite reuse. Don’t miss the unique keynote address from photographer, adventurer, and author Pete McBride, along with the inaugural Global Water Reuse Dialogue and Water Reuse Technology Showcase. Register now to claim a space on one of our tours of innovative water reuse projects in the region!

News Briefs

What Science Communications Can Learn from Sewer Twitter. Read more.
Arizona Nixes Lease for Water-Intense Alfalfa. Read more.
Water Managers in the D.C Region Raise Alarm Over Dipping Water Levels For the Potomac River. Read more.
The Overwhelming Majority of Disasters are Water-Related, Cites New WMO Report. Read more.
What’s Stopping Desalination from Going Mainstream? Read more.
Saving Water on Utah Farms: Agricultural Community Turns to Optimization. Read more.
Wall Street Journal Publishes a Misleading Article about Efficiency Standards. Read more.