Water Efficiency Watch - July 2020

In this issue of Water Efficiency Watch:

  • AWE Releases Report on Water Affordability in Detroit
  • Congress Passes HR 2—Includes Tax Exemption for Water Conservation Rebates
  • Smart Irrigation Month; Upcoming Conferences
  • Texas Water Conservation Scorecard
  • Still Time to Support WaterSense
  • US Bureau of Reclamation provides $3.3 million to 52 WaterSMART Small-Scale Water Efficiency Projects
  • Tom Ash, Tireless Water Conservation Missionary
  • Business Member Spotlight: ConserveTrack
  • New Briefs and Web Links

AWE Releases Report on Water Affordability in Detroit

The Alliance for Water Efficiency envisions a future with reliable and sustainable water resources, healthy ecosystems, and economically strong communities. This future is not possible in a system that does not serve all people equitably. AWE supports all those working towards a more just and inclusive society today and every day.

In keeping with the values statement above, the Alliance for Water Efficiency has released its report, An Assessment of Water Affordability and Conservation Potential in Detroit, Michigan, which evaluates water affordability and water conservation potential at the census tract level. Water affordability is an incredibly important issue, and the Alliance for Water Efficiency is dedicated to advancing the conversation by applying and evaluating measures of affordability and quantifying the benefits of water conservation. Through our efforts we aim to better understand and define the problem, and work toward solutions to help communities that are disproportionately impacted by water and sewer bills.

The assessment demonstrates:

  • There is a clear need for assistance in Detroit as the cost of water and sewer service is characterized as a high burden.
  • There is large potential for water conservation savings.
  • There is a meaningful role for water conservation to empower customers to lower water and sewer bills.
  • There is value in conducting an affordability assessment at higher resolutions than at the city or service-area level.

This work was made possible by generous funding provided by Kohler Co. Click here to learn more and to access the full report.

Congress Passes HR 2—Includes Tax Exemption for Water Conservation Rebates

The House of Representatives has passed H.R. 2 – INVEST in America (now called the Moving Forward Act), which seeks to authorize funds for infrastructure improvements and other purposes, including tax-free treatment of rebates for water conservation and stormwater management efforts. AWE has been leading the effort to make water conservation rebates tax-exempt, the same way energy efficiency rebates have been for decades. This legislation will now face a vote in the Senate. AWE is asking our partners and all supporters of water efficiency to contact their senators to express support for this bill.

AWE’s Legislative Watch Page tracks the latest water related bills working their way through Congress. We will be closely monitoring the progress of this bill. Click here to view the full Legislative Watch page.

Smart Irrigation Month

July is Smart Irrigation Month, a time to call attention to the importance of water efficiency in food production and sustainable landscapes. This initiative from AWE’s partner The Irrigation Association promotes the social, economic, and environmental benefits of efficient irrigation technologies, products, and services in landscape, turf, and agriculture.

Click here to access resources from AWE and our partners to help you participate in Smart Irrigation Month. Check out AWE’s reports Landscape Transformation: Assessment of Water Utility Programs and Market Readiness Evaluation and Sustainable Landscapes: A Utility Program Guide, webinars and factsheets from the Center for Water Efficient Landscaping (CWEL) at Utah State University, the California Water Efficiency Partnership’s report, Lessons Learned; Dedicated Irrigation Meter Management for CII Accounts, and much more!

Click here to view additional resources from the Irrigation Association.

Upcoming Conferences

Southern California Water Conference – Join the Building Industry Association (BIA) of Southern California for an exciting conference on August 14, 2020 at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario, CA. The conference provides a forum for agencies, local government, private industry, and the public to collaborate on issues facing Southern California regarding the ability to deliver safe, clean water to residents and businesses. Click here to learn more and to register.  The conference is likely to also switch to a virtual format.

WateReuse Symposium – The 2020 WateReuse Symposium will launch online September 14-16, 2020 using virtual event software to offer attendees, sponsors, exhibitors and presenters an experience very close to the experience of a live event. Click here to learn more and to register.

CalWEP Fall Plenary – Join the Moulton Niguel Water District and the California Water Efficiency Partnership (CalWEP) for a virtual plenary meeting on September 24, 2020. Click here to learn more.

Texas Water Conservation Scorecard

The Texas Living Waters Project conducted an analysis of water conservation practices and policies of over 350 water utilities across Texas and published the results in the 2020 Texas Water Conservation Scorecard, an update to the 2016 report. The study found that while there has been some meaningful progress on a number of the evaluation criteria in the last four years, overall Texas water utilities as a group have not significantly improved their efforts on water conservation. Click here to learn more and view the full scorecard.

Still Time to Support WaterSense

Thank you to everyone who has signed on to AWE’s letter in support of the EPA WaterSense program, and to everyone who has submitted positive comments independently. The deadline to respond to the Federal Register notice has been extended to July 24, 2020, so we encourage all of our members and partners who have not yet voiced their support do so in the next couple of weeks.

As a reminder, EPA is seeking to measure consumer satisfaction with WaterSense labeled products as a possible factor to be considered in future changes to WaterSense specifications. On April 10, 2020, EPA published a notice in the Federal Register seeking public comment on this issue. AWE believes customer satisfaction criteria do NOT belong in WaterSense product specifications themselves, but there are reasonable uses for customer satisfaction information within WaterSense. Including a vague, non-scientific concept such as customer satisfaction criteria could introduce uncertainty and bias into what has until now been a fair and scientific process for setting WaterSense specifications.

Click here to view AWE’s Call to Action web page to download AWE’s letter, and to access more information and resources to help you submit positive comments of your own.  Let us know by July 22 if you wish to sign on to AWE’s letter.

US Bureau of Reclamation provides $3.3 million to 52 WaterSMART Small-Scale Water Efficiency Projects

The Bureau of Reclamation has selected 52 projects in 13 states in the West to share $3.3 million in WaterSMART grants for small-scale water efficiency improvements. The selected projects—which include installation of flow measurement or automation in a specific part of a water delivery system, lining of a section of a canal to address seepage or other similar small-scale projects—received up to $75,000. The selected entities must provide at least a 50% cost-share. Click here to view all of the selected projects and programs.

For more than 100 years, Reclamation and its partners have worked to develop a sustainable water and power future for the West. This program is part of the Department of the Interior's WaterSMART Program, which focuses on improving water conservation and reliability while helping water resource managers make sound decisions about water use. Click here to find out more information about Reclamation's WaterSMART program. 

Tom Ash, Tireless Water Conservation Missionary

The water efficiency community lost a very valuable partner in April of this year. For over three decades, Tom Ash has devoted his life and energy to the cause of water conservation and water budget-based rates. A horticulturalist by training with a degree from Cal Poly Pomona, Tom started his conservation career at the Irvine Ranch Water District in 1991, and during his 12 years there he pioneered the concept of water budget-based rates at his agency and became the most devoted advocate in the country on its benefits. Like a true missionary, he worked with countless other water utilities on their landscape water efficiency programs and water budget-based rates over the course of his career. For 8 years he also worked with Hydropoint to promote smart weather-based irrigation controllers. He appeared before dozens of water district boards and city councils. He spoke at many water conservation gatherings, like this California Water Efficiency Partnership “Peer to Peer” conference in Anaheim in 2019. He wrote two books on water efficiency.  He gave a memorable Tedx Talk on his favorite subject.

His passing is mourned by a host of water efficiency leaders, all of whom relied on his deep knowledge, his enthusiasm, and his friendship over the decades. Because Tom passed away during the COVID pandemic, his family is hoping to hold a memorial service when his colleagues and friends are able to attend and pay their respects in person. The family is also asking that donations be made to International Sanctuary in his name.

  • Martha Davis, former Assistant General Manager/Executive Manager for Policy, Inland Empire Utilities Agency: “Tom was brilliant, passionate, relentlessly optimistic, good-hearted, generous and gentle. When talking about budget-based water rate structures he was irrepressible, absolutely impossible to contain, as I remember moderating numerous panel discussions where Tom would say, "oh, and just one more thing." But what Tom shared was truly important: a pathway for water agencies to generate reliable revenue while significantly reducing water waste and rewarding the most efficient water users–frequently low-income households–with the lowest water rates. Those agencies who had the courage to work with him and changed their rate structures now sing his praises. Like MWD's Mike Moynihan before him, Tom offered our water world a transformational vision for how we can better serve our communities.”
  • Sarah Foley and Tia Lebherz, Co-Executive Directors of the California Water Efficiency Partnership: “Tom’s commitment to water use efficiency, his vision for what’s possible, and his enthusiasm to share his extensive knowledge and build leadership in the profession will be deeply missed by the entire CalWEP community. We can only hope to honor his legacy as we strive to reach new goals and expand our impact in the Golden State.”
  • Mary Ann Dickinson, President and CEO of the Alliance for Water Efficiency: "Tom was a personal as well as professional inspiration to me. When I moved to California from Connecticut in 1992, Tom noticed the new kid on the block and took me under his wing. Over the many ensuing years, he continually shared his marvelous wisdom and joie de vivre with me–and with many others–who greatly benefited by knowing and working with him. He is sorely missed in the water conservation and efficiency world."   
  • Tim Barr, Deputy General Manager, Western Municipal Water District: “Tom was passionate about many things–his family, horticulture, and budget-based water rates. He routinely joked that he was a one-trick pony relentlessly pitching the benefits of budget-based water rates. In knowing Tom for nearly 3 decades, I know this not to be true. Tom’s greatest “trick” was his natural ability to make real connections with people. He was honest, approachable and kind. I first worked with Tom in the early 90’s at Western MWD’s landscape demonstration garden, where Tom was the garden director. I was a student intern simply working to make ends meet. He gave public tours, conducted homeowner and industry workshops, promoted water efficiency, and generally relished the opportunity to inform and help others. His infectious enthusiasm and ability to relate to his audience quickly earned him the trust of others. He freely and frequently preached the wonders of water conservation. He was a secret weapon that the public couldn’t resist. The audiences appreciated his candor and wit. He simplified the message and ensured clarity. He was a passionate advocate for water efficiency, a mentor, a coach and supporter of many in the water and green industry, as well as a kind-hearted friend to many. He made an indelible impression in the industry and will be missed.”
  • Fran Spivy-Weber, past Vice Chair of the California Water Resources Board: “Tom could be relied on to do his homework. Whether it was favorable or not, we appreciated his focus on science and the numbers.”
  • Joe Berg, Director of Water Use Efficiency at the Municipal Water District of Orange County: “I personally worked with Tom for more than 25 years.  He was one of the most enthusiastic, passionate, positive, and funny people I’ve had the opportunity to work with.”
  • Chris Manchuck, co-founder of Hydropoint: “He could talk shop with a CEO minutes after finishing a field training session for 20 workers. He had that range of knowledge and infectious enthusiasm.”

Business Member Spotlight: ConserveTrack

ConserveTrack is a powerful, versatile water conservation management system that allows you to manage and report on all conservation programs, of any type, with all their history, in one 24/7 cloud database accessible from the office, home or the field.  Piecemeal Excel files, databases and paper can be replaced, and wasted time and headaches eliminated with this professional management system specifically designed for water conservation.

ConserveTrack has been used at dozens of water utilities for over 15 years.  It is being constantly enhanced and expanded with new technology and the newest water conservation methods.  Many types of programs are included off the shelf and new ones can be configured quickly by ConserveTrack staff.  Programs include:  Rebates of all types, Device Giveaways, Direct Install, Vouchers, High User Alerts, Indoor and Outdoor Audits, Surveys, Commercial programs, AMI Integration, Retrofit on Sale, Water Demand Offset, Xeriscape Rebates, Turf Removal, Watering Restrictions and Fines, Leak Alerts, Water Budgets and much more.  For example: quickly find the top 5% water users, which are Commercial properties, in a specific zip code, which have never had a toilet rebate, and are older than 20 years. Then send them all an email and schedule a visit with a follow-up in 3 months.

Remote Access for the Pandemic
ConserveTrack can be remotely accessed by your entire team working remotely, allowing the sharing of current data on all cases, accounts, contacts, water use history, applications etc.  Data can be processed from home just as in the office. The data is held securely in the cloud and accessible from anywhere only by your team.

Water Customer Portal – Electronic Applications
Customers can self-register, sign up for programs, apply for rebates, communicate with utility staff and more.  ConserveTrack’s portals use the same graphical style as your utility’s web sites. Single sign-on means our portal can be merged with your existing Portals.

Reporting, Dashboards and Graphics
ConserveTrack can generate weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual reports instantly. Available reports include case counts, device counts, water savings, pivot grids, and graphic charts of all types.

Call 831-426-4397 or click here to email for a demonstration and references.

News Briefs and Member Updates

EPA releases new tool to help water utilities assess the financial impact of COVID-19 on operations. Learn more here.

House Democrats unveil green tax package. Learn more here.

NASA is tracking water sources. Learn more here.

Stagnant plumbing systems in emptied commercial buildings could put returning employees at risk of Legionnaires’ and other illnesses. Learn more here.

NSF Grants Put Lane Community College Programs Ahead of the Curve. Learn more here.

Vertexone Acquires WaterSmart. Learn more here.

A Little Nudging Goes a Long Way When It Comes to Water Efficiency - tips for encouraging conservation from AWE parnter Waterless, Co. Learn more here