Water Efficiency Watch - July 2019

In this issue of Water Efficiency Watch...

  • AWE Releases Sustainable Landscapes: A Utility Program Guide, and Announces July 24 Webinar  
  • Nevada Passes Conservation Legislation in Response to AWE Scorecard 
  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce Supports WaterSense Funding and Tax-Exempt Rebates 
  • Peter Mayer Retires as Newsletter Editor After 18 Years 
  • Thinking About AMI? AWE’s Model RFP Navigates the Tech Forest 
  • AWE Leads Effort to Eliminate Taxation of Efficiency Rebates 
  • Green Globes 2019 Released as a Revised Commercial Building Standard  
  • AWE Member Spotlight: City of Sacramento Expands its Outreach During Smart Irrigation Month  
  • AWE Member News  
  • News Briefs and Web Links 
  • How to Submit Content for Water Efficiency Watch  

AWE Releases Sustainable Landscapes: A Utility Program Guide, and Announces July 24 Webinar 

AWE’s Landscape Transformation Study found that consumers are ready for sustainable, water-efficient landscapes—but they need help from their water providers. AWE’s new publication, Sustainable Landscapes: A Utility Program Guide, leverages the insights, lessons, and considerations gathered in the Landscape Transformation Study to provide actionable information for utilities beginning or enhancing outdoor water efficiency programs. This guide will support utilities as they design effective programs that encourage sustainable water use in their communities.

The first part of the guide discusses general considerations for utility landscape programs, like outreach, staffing, and financial considerations. These are not specific to one type of program but are broadly applicable to a wide array of programs. The second part of the guide presents four utility program types—turf replacement, rebates/incentives, free materials, and customer education—and offers advice and guidance for each. Examples of each program type were analyzed in AWE’s Landscape Transformation Study and all were found to achieve water savings. 

Additionally, appearing throughout the guide are Featured Programs: in-depth case studies of successful sustainable landscape programs from Southern Nevada Water Authority, San Antonio Water System, Sonoma County Water Agency, and Municipal Water District of Orange County. These water efficiency leaders volunteered valuable information and data about their outdoor programs, including program design, implementation, financing, and overall water savings, so that other utilities can learn from their efforts. These case studies are unique to this guide and can’t be found anywhere else. 

Sustainable Landscapes: A Utility Program Guide is an AWE member-only benefit: to access, please click here. AWE and CalWEP members will also be receiving a hard copy of the guide in the mail, so keep an eye out for that coming soon! 

Finally, AWE and CalWEP are holding a members-only webinar launching the guide on July 24th at 1 pm Central/11 am Pacific. Please join us for “Sustainable Landscape Programs: Utility Considerations and Perspectives,” with speakers Karen Guz of San Antonio Water System and Rachel Waite of Municipal Water District of Orange County. They’ll each discuss their utility’s featured outdoor efficiency programs and what other utilities can learn from their experience. Tune in for exciting discussion and guidance on how to move your community towards sustainable landscapes through robust and effective outdoor programs. Register here  

Nevada Passes Conservation Legislation in Response to AWE Scorecard 

Nevada has enacted far-reaching conservation legislation updating planning rules, requiring water loss audits and reporting, making progress towards savings goals, and establishing WaterSense-rated fixtures for new installations and remodels. The legislation - AB 163 - was at least partially spurred by the Alliance for Water Efficiency’s State Water Efficiency and Conservation Scorecard, and the desire to improve Nevada’s ranking in that Scorecard. Governor Steve Sisolak signed AB 163 into law on June 3, 2019.

In Nevada, water conservation plans must be updated every five years. The new law, AB 163, adds in requirements for water loss audits, validation of audit results, and an analysis of progress towards water loss reduction goals. The legislation also establishes a final product specification for a type of toilet, shower apparatus, faucet or urinal, new construction, expansions, and renovations on these structures must install toilets, shower apparatuses, faucets and urinals that have been certified under the WaterSense program.

AWE has information about Nevada’s new conservation legislation on the Legislative Watch page.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Supports WaterSense Funding and Tax-Exempt Rebates 

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has incorporated AWE's issues of full WaterSense funding and tax-exempt water efficiency rebates as needed national water policy in a new policy priorities statement released this month.

Under “Priorities and Proposals”, the U.S. Chamber statement notes, “Support full funding for the WaterSense program -- Congress should fund this effort promoting water conservation technologies and products and incentivizing consumer adoption.”

Additional listed priorities include, “Encourage the use of effective utility management,including full-cost accounting,” and “Ensure the equal treatment of water efficiency rebates under tax law.”

“It is terrific to have the U.S. Chamber of Commerce putting their support behind AWE’s legislative agenda,” said Mary Ann Dickinson, President and CEO of the Alliance for Water Efficiency. “Full funding for WaterSense and equal treatment of water efficiency rebates under the tax law are two of the issues we are focused on.”

Download the statement for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce here

Peter Mayer Retires as Newsletter Editor After 18 Years 

This will be the final issue of the Water Efficiency Watch newsletter produced by long-time editor, Peter Mayer. Since 2001, Mayer has edited the bi-monthly newsletter of the Alliance for Water Efficiency (2007 - present) and before that AWWA’s WaterWiser (2001 - 2007). Over that time, Mayer has edited approximately 125 issues of the newsletter. For the final issue, Mayer sat down for a wide-ranging interview about the newsletter and the industry.

AWE: You have been at this a long time. Why did you start producing the newsletter in 2001?

Peter Mayer: I started the newsletter for the AWWA WaterWiser web site in 2001 when I saw the need to have regular information on the world of water demand management shared among professionals. WaterWiser was a clearinghouse for publications, but there wasn’t any regular updates with current information. The need was clear. One of my first jobs out of college was as a reporter and editor of the weekly Calvert Independent newspaper out of Prince Frederick, MD, southeast of Washington, DC.

The newsletter became a way for me to use my newspaper skills to benefit the water industry. From the beginning, I adopted a short article format and news briefs, all with links for the reader to follow for more info if desired. Occasionally I’ve tackled longer articles when summarizing research projects, but for the most part I tried to create the type of newsletter people might actually enjoy browsing, and I’ve followed the USA Today model of a tasty headline followed by a brief but informative story.

AWE: It started as a volunteer gig?

PM: Yes. For the first six years, I produced the newsletter for AWWA and their WaterWiser conservation clearinghouse website (now defunct) on a volunteer basis. It was only when AWE was formed in 2007 that I was formally “hired” and paid for the production work, and I happily agreed to produce the newsletter for AWE. I am deeply grateful to Mary Ann Dickinson and the Alliance for Water Efficiency for recognizing the value of the newsletter and bringing it over to AWE. Mary Ann has also edited all 81 issues I have prepared since 2007 and provided many of the most significant articles and quotes. Operating quietly and effectively in the background has been Jeffrey Hughes, who cleans up the messy web pages I prepare. We have operated as an effective on-line news production team over the past 12 years.

AWE: What are some of the biggest changes you have observed in the industry since 2001?

PM: The biggest change since the early days of my career is the acceptance that efficiency and conservation actually works. That was not always the case, and these issues have been hard fought. Demand management in various shapes and forms has emerged as the most important water policy/program to emerge since 1990. The success of intentional water efficiency policies and programs at reducing water demand nationwide was an untold story in the water industry until we started writing about it about it and publishing articles and research through AWWA, the Water Research Foundation, and AWE.

In 2001, the field of demand management and water efficiency was still struggling with issues of proof and recognition. The 1999 Residential End Uses of Water study documented changes in water use patterns, but the industry was still smarting from problems associated with poor quality toilets sold in the mid-1990s in the wake of the Energy Policy Act. It took a long time to get over that black eye, and it wasn’t really until Maximum Performance Testing and WaterSense came along that fixtures have improved to the point that complaints have dissipated.

Today, water conservation and efficiency programs are closely integrated into the fabric of most large and many mid-sized and small water utilities, and nationwide our public sector water withdrawals have declined for more than a decade -- as documented by the USGS -- which is remarkable to see.

AWE: Why does the water efficiency community need a newsletter?

PM: The newsletter is a vehicle for informing anyone who is interested in the issues and events that matter in the world of water conservation, water efficiency, and demand management. Water professionals have long understood the need for communication and information sharing. The AWE newsletter has been a no-nonsense way to share research and happenings. For almost 20 years, the Water Efficiency Watch newsletter has covered topics like the fight to maintain the 1992 EPAct fixture standards, the creation of the EPA Water Sense program and its tremendous success, the heightened importance of water loss control, major research such as the Residential End Uses of Water studies and USGS Water Use in the US, and AWE research such as the recent avoided cost studies and landscape transformation studies. I always worked hard to keep it newsy and non-promotional, because there were so many advertisements hiding as newsletters circulating out there. I also tried to avoid using exclamation points, something Mary Ann Dickinson has always loved to do, so that has been perhaps the biggest challenge.

AWE: Why are you retiring from editing the AWE newsletter?

PM: (smiling) It is time to give someone else a turn. I have had a good run with the newsletter and it has given me a wonderful opportunity to keep up with major events, but it is the right time to step away. The AWE website is undergoing an overhaul and the newsletter will have a new editor to go along with a fresh new look and perspective in the coming months. I intend to continue serving AWE as Senior Technical Adviser on research projects such as the Landscape Transformation and Drought Water Savings study. It has been a privilege and an honor to produce the Water Efficiency Watch and Wiser Watch newsletters. I appreciate everyone who sent articles, story leads and other contributions, serious and otherwise. I always envisioned the newsletter as a team information gathering effort. I hope that spirit will endure. I can always be reached at peter.mayer@waterdm.com

Thinking About AMI? AWE’s Model RFP Helps Navigate Through the Tech Forest 

Selecting an Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) system is an expensive decision that commits a water utility for years into the future. A team lead by AWE and the California Water Efficiency Partnership has developed a model request for proposals (RFP) to help utilities specify AMI systems that will last into the future and maintain interoperability.

Prepared by metering expert Don Schlenger, the RFP promotes the establishment and use of standards for Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) and Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) systems. The highest priority in the RFP was to include language on the interoperability between AMR/AMI systems, monitors and valves that may be connected to them, communication and programming devices, as well as data formatting. The RFP is a living document, which can be used by water utilities and customized to suit their needs.

Contact AWE to receive a copy of the RFP

AWE Leads Effort to Eliminate Taxation of Efficiency Rebates 

H.R. 2313 has been introduced in Congress to make clear that rebates provided by water utilities for water conservation and water runoff management improvements should not be subject to federal income taxation, just as energy efficiency rebates are.

AWE is leading the effort to support this legislation. Learn more about H.R. 2313 on AWE's Legislative Watch page. Sign on to this letter and show your support. Contact Liam at AWE to add your organization's name to the letter. 

Green Globes 2019 Released as a Revised Commercial Building Standard 

As concern grows in the water efficiency, building, and planning community over the proliferation of green codes, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has approved ANSI-GBI 01-2019: Green Globes Assessment Protocol for Commercial Buildings as a consensus document and American National Standard.

The Standard’s updated content includes such criteria as resilience, life cycle cost analysis, moisture control analysis, health and effectiveness, and piggy backs on other recent market advances, such as WaterSense and EnergySTAR.

The final approved Standard as well as proposals for changes to the Standard, which can be submitted at any time using forms provided on GBI’s website, can be found at https://www.thegbi.org/ansi.  The schedule for review of proposals is also published on the website.

AWE Member Spotlight 

Check this section for the latest news from AWE’s network! Interested in seeing your news here? Email Gursharan at AWE.

City of Sacramento Expands its Outreach During Smart Irrigation Month 

AWE’s recently released Landscape Transformation Study concluded that the City of Sacramento’s turf removal and replacement program reduced participant water use by an average of 29.6 percent. Now that the city had proof of savings, the next challenge was to increase participation in the rebate program. Sacramento conservation staff have since made some modifications to their program, including increasing the incentive per square-foot, loosening restrictions, and increasing and diversifying their outreach methods. 

As an example, the City of Sacramento recently placed a greater emphasis on organizing its own outreach events for conservation.

“This year we are stepping it up a notch. We’ve participated in farmers markets, and Earth Day events in the past, but we decided to do something bigger,” said William Granger, City of Sacramento Water Conservation Administrator.

For Smart Irrigation Month, the conservation staff are organizing a dedicated community event called Sacramento Water Wise Garden Showcase, planned for July 27 from 10:30 am to 12 pm.

While they are working to finalize planning and details for the event, the conservation staff have focused on a few key goals. They have defined a minimum attendee number to consider the event successful, but going beyond the numbers they want to see excitement during the event, and receive feedback from attendees that can help improve their initiatives.

“Success would be a buzz in the room, with people saying things like, ‘Wow, I didn’t know about that,’ but also, having to tell people the event is over” said William Granger.

In order to meet the goals for this type of event, planning includes a number of factors such as determining the venue, gaining commitment from vendors and participating organizations, marketing the event, and of course, orchestrating all the components on the day of the event. For the Sacramento Water Wise Garden Event, the City of Sacramento has recruited about 10 participating organizations including manufacturers and distributors of outdoor products like Rain Bird and Ewing, and relevant community organizations like The Sacramento Tree Foundation, The Native Plant Society, Association of Professional Landscape Designers, and local nurseries. To make the event engaging and educational for the attendees, conservation staff have asked each participating organization to donate a prize for a raffle held during the event, and to make their booths as interactive as possible.

Branding the event was also an important consideration—initially the city was planning to include “smart irrigation” in the name but decided it was better to broaden the focus to entice more people to attend. In addition to utilizing its own customer email list and reach on social media, the city has partnered with other organizations that have a presence in the community to cross-promote the event.

An event like the Sacramento Water Wise Garden Showcase, which is designed to bring awareness to technology, plant information, design resources, and rebates, can play an important role in shifting outdoor water use habits and help remove barriers to the adoption of sustainable landscapes and irrigation practices in a community.

Learn more about the City of Sacramento’s conservation efforts, at their website

If you are an AWE member, you can access resources and assistance for your initiatives through AWE’s Smart Irrigation Marketplace. Plus, check out AWE’s Sustainable Landscapes: A Utility Program Guide—designed to help you create the right program for your community.

AWE Member News 

News Briefs and Web Links 

  • Boring reduction as CA Delta tunnels project shrinks to one - Earlier in 2019, California Gov. Gavin Newsom's Administration announced the advancement of a single-tunnel conveyance solution in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, rather than the twin-tunnel concept supported by the previous Brown administration. A key partner in the project, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California shook off the change and restated its commitment to working with the administration to advance a project that meets the water reliability needs of the state and minimize impacts to the Delta communities and environment. "New conveyance is essential. The current system is already outdated and vulnerable; climate change will further stress it with a future of sea level rise and increasingly intense floods and droughts," said Metropolitan General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger
  • Skydrop smart irrigation controller company goes dark - Skydrop, a Utah-based smart irrigation controller manufacturer, has ceased operations. Earlier in 2019, they notified customers they would begin charging a monthly service fee to continue to receive smart functionality.  As of June, they notified customers they have ceased operations, but have retained one staff member to look at opportunities to continue to provide basic service.
  • To stay ahead of climate change, conservation must accelerate - We will need to double down on water conservation in cities and on farms according to a new article from Brian Richter
  • “Flushable” wipes are not so flushable - Arizona Municipal Water Users Association Director Warren Tenney reviews the basics ​ of what can and cannot be safely flushed.
  • Water affordability innovations are explored by the NC Environmental Finance Center - Exploring novel interventions for nonpayment reduction

How to Submit Content for Water Efficiency Watch 

Water Efficiency Watch welcomes submission of articles, photos, stories, commentary, new technologies, web links, etc.  Please email your submission to Liam McCarthy

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.