Water Efficiency Watch - July 2022

In this issue...

  • Thank you Water Efficiency Professionals
  • Legislative Update
  • AWE Updates
  • News from Members and Partners
  • Member Spotlights
  • News Briefs

Thank You Water Efficiency Professionals

Much of North America and the world are grappling with a warmer, drier climate that results in less water being available to meet basic human needs, support businesses, sustain ecosystems, and grow food. The Colorado River Basin, with Lake Mead approaching “dead pool” status, is a conspicuous example of how dramatically the water supply math is changing because of climate change and population growth. But water scarcity is not limited to the southwestern U.S. Scientists warn  that much of North America is on pace to experience water shortages if we don’t manage water better. 

The situation is daunting, but it could be much worse if not for the forward-thinking and dedication of policymakers and the community of water efficiency and conservation professionals. They have championed strategies like plumbing efficiency standards, water conservation programs, and improved agriculture efficiency methods that have gradually decreased water use even as the population grew significantly. (See Figure 1, right) 

AWE's President and CEO, Ron Burke, wrote a blog post thanking water professionals--unsung heroes in the fight against drought and climate change--for their dedication to keeping water supplies sustainable and affordable. Join us in saying thanks on Twitter with #WaterEfficiency and give a shout-out to water pros doing great work!

Click here to view the full blog post.

Legislative Update

Water Efficiency, Conservation, and Sustainability Act of 2022 Introduced

With support and advice from AWE, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and Representative Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.-09) introduced the Water Efficiency, Conservation, and Sustainability Act of 2022, legislation to create a nationwide grant program with $110 million/year grant program to incentivize water-efficiency upgrades, prevent water loss, and upgrade plumbing codes especially in areas experiencing severe drought and in low-income communities.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamations’ WaterSmart grant program is currently the only federal grant program focused on saving water. Funding is inadequate to meet the need, and it is restricted to western states. You can track the progress of this and other pending water efficiency legislation on AWE's Legislative Watch page.

$43.2 Million Awarded for Water Efficiency Projects in Western States; Applications due by 7/28 for Next Round of Funding

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) awarded $43.2 million in May and June to 36 projects in western states as part of the WaterSMART Water and Energy Efficiency Grant (WEEG) program. The funding will help local communities improve water use efficiency by lining canals, upgrading water meters, installing automated gates to control water flow, and making other infrastructure improvements. The projects are anticipated to save more than 12 billion gallons of water annually through reductions in residential water use and improvements to increase irrigation efficiency.

$25.5 million of these dollars are additional from the Infrastructure Bill that passed last year. The following AWE members were awarded funding:

  • City of Fresno (CA) - Smart Irrigation Timers Direct Install Project, $379,380
  • Moulton Niguel Water District - Low Resolution Meter Replacement Project (Phase I), $444,490
  • Otay Water District - Advanced Metering Infratructure Upgrade and Customer Engagement Project (Phase I) $234,645
  • City of Santa Ana - Generation of Solar Power at Garthe and West Pump Station Facilities Project, $500,000
  • City of Santa Cruz - Advanced Metering Infrastructure Replacement Project, $500,000
  • West Basin Municipal Water District - Residential and Commercial Grass Replacement Program, $385,000
  • Southern Nevada Water Authority - Water Smart Landscapes Rebate Program, $2 million
  • City of Corona (CA) - Advanced Metering Infrastructure Program, $2 million
  • Metropolitan Water District of Southern California - Regional Public Agency Turf Replacement Program, $2 million
  • Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency (CA) - Automated Metering Infrastructure Project (Phase 1), $2 million
  • City of Greeley (CO) - Greeley AMI Meter Installation Project, $2 million

Applications for the next round of WEEG funds are due July 28, 2022. Click here  to visit the USBR website for more details. AWE held a webinar with USBR earlier this year about applying for WaterSmart grants. Click here to access a recording of the webinar. 

Colorado Legislation Provides $2 Million for Water-Wise Landscaping

A new Colorado law provides $2 million for the voluntary replacement of irrigated turf with water-wise landscaping. Local governments, certain districts, Native American tribes, and nonprofit organizations may apply for funds to finance their irrigated turf replacement programs. The bill defines water-wise landscaping as a water- and plant-management practice that emphasizes using plants with lower water needs. Earlier this year, Utah approved $5 million for a similar program.

The following Colorado AWE members had established Irrigated Turf Replacement programs before the law passed, and their success helped make the case for this state funding:

  • City of Aurora
  • City of Boulder
  • Castle Pines North
  • Castle Rock Water
  • Centennial Water District
  • Colorado Springs Utilities
  • City of Fort Collins
  • City of Greeley
  • Inverness Water & Sanitation District
  • City of Longmont
  • Northern Water
  • City of Thornton
  • City of Westminster

AWE Updates

Five Regional Member Meetings Held in Spring 2022

The Alliance for Water Efficiency held a series of regional member meetings to address common challenges. Meetings were held for:

  • Canada
  • Southeastern U.S.
  • Southwestern U.S.
  • Northeastern U.S. & Great Lakes
  • Northwestern U.S.

Southeastern and Southwestern participants heard a presentation from WaterDM’s Peter Mayer about mitigating water use and demand during population growth, while the other meetings heard from AWE’s Director of Programs, Liesel Hans, about why water conservation matters, even when supplies are abundant (or perceived to be abundant).

Initial feedback from the meetings has been overwhelmingly positive. Participants found great value in networking and collaboratively brainstorming with fellow AWE members in their region. Topics under consideration for future regional meetings include:

  • Using software and data to encourage water conservation 
  • How to transition away from long-term rebates
  • Coping with changing precipitation patterns

Unable to attend the meetings and want to view a recording? Or, have any feedback or suggestions for future topics? Email AWE’s Development Manager, Rachel Austin-DeBruin.  

WaterView added to AWE member-only offerings

AWE members can now access a 10% discount on WaterView™ from Eagle Aerial Solutions. WaterView™ combines multiple data sets (daily local ET readings, parcel data, demographic data, irrigated landscape square footage, household size, etc.) to allow precise, targeted conservation efforts at the district, group, and customer levels. Currently, over 50 water agencies are using WaterView™ to analyze total water allocation at the parcel level, help spot water use trends, and track and manage over-allocation users within each district. Click here to learn more about WaterView™. Click here to email Liam at AWE to learn more about this discount opportunity.

Report features Learning Landscape Projects that Teach Children about Water Efficiency

AWE and The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation released a report detailing the projects funded by the Learning Landscape Grant Program. The grants, funded by the Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation, support building or improving educational outdoor spaces at schools, botanical gardens, and community locations that allow school-age children to experience hands-on learning about water efficiency in outdoor landscapes.

After a competitive application process, AWE awarded grants of $5,000 to the following eight schools and organizations whose project proposals offered the highest educational value and water efficiency benefits:

  • Amigos de Los Rios, Altadena, CA
  • City of Houston, Houston, TX
  • Ciudad Soil and Water Conservation District, Albuquerque, NM
  • Denver Urban Gardens/Bradley International School, Denver, CO
  • Edwards Aquifer Conservancy, San Antonio, TX
  • Oak Grove School District #68, Bartonville, IL
  • Pala Environmental Department, Pala Band of Mission Indians, Pala, CA
  • Riverside-Corona Resource Conservation District, Riverside, CA

The report features six of these projects that were completed in 2021. two projects remain underway. Congratulations to all of the grantees! Click here to view the report.

AWE also released an updated version of its Learning Landscapes Lessons, featuring a new lesson titled, "Soils: The Dirt on Dirt." This is the fourth lesson in the curriculum designed to teach students in grades 3-8 about the importance of outdoor water use efficiency. The lessons align with Next Generation Science Standards. Click here to access the lessons.

Recent and Upcoming AWE Webinars

Increasing the Value of Water Efficiency with Stacked Incentive Programs

Stacked incentive programs are designed to save water and achieve other specific benefits, and they may be funded by more than one agency. For example, a partnership between the County of San Diego and the San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA) offers various rebates for actions that save water and keep waterways clean. The SDCWA joined AWE and the City of Austin, TX on July 14 for a webinar looking at the benefits of stacked incentive programs. Click here to see a recording.

Water and Planning Network Webinar

Join AWE and the Water and Planning Network on July 27 at 11 a.m. CDT for an informative webinar on the new report published by the National Wildlife Federation on Ensuring One Water Works for All: Opportunities for Realizing Water Reuse in Affordable Housing . This report concludes that strategic integration of onsite water reuse can provide lasting financial and quality-of-life benefits to affordable housing residents and owners, and that inclusion of onsite reuse can also help spread a degree of climate resilience to urban populations that are often passed-over in commercial water reuse and green infrastructure initiatives Click here to learn more and to register. 

AWE Annual Meeting at WSI

Registration is now open for the WaterSmart Innovations Conference  in Las Vegas, October 5 and 6, 2022. The day before the conference begins, October 4, join AWE for our day of committee meetings, and spend the evening at our Annual Member Meeting to enjoy drinks, appetizers, and opportunities to network with fellow water efficiency professionals. Sponsorship opportunities are available for the Annual Member Meeting! Contact AWE’s Development Manager, Rachel Austin-DeBruin to learn more. 

Please take AMI Leak Notification Survey 

We need your help! Leak notification programs are increasingly popular and touted as a key motivation to install Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), but there is little documentation about them. This survey will gather real-world experience and data from experts like you. The more responses, the bigger the impact. We recognize that your time is valuable; as a thank you, we’ll share summary of the results with all respondents, even those who are not AWE members. Survey results will be part of a larger report released later this year. Please set aside an hour before Thursday July 21, 2022 to take the survey here. Have questions or want a pdf of the survey to gather responses ahead of submitting online? Email Liesel Hans.

News from Members and Partners

Smart Irrigation Month

July is Smart Irrigation Month, an initiative from the Irrigation Association to promote smart irrigation practices, technologies, and businesses. This year’s theme is: “Proud of our past, focused on our future.” Click here  to learn more about how you can participate through events and social media activity, and how you can make your company or organization a smart irrigation leader.

Member Spotlights

P&G Unveils Strategy to Help Address Global Water Crisis

AWE partner Procter & Gamble announced a comprehensive strategy that focuses on restoring water in 18 water-stressed areas around the world, responding to water challenges through innovation and partnerships, and reducing water in the company's operations. Click here  to learn more.

Sacramento Gives Money Back for Saving Water

AWE partner City of Sacramento is asking residents to reduce their water use by 20%, and offering rebates and reimbursements for water efficient upgrades. Customers can get rebates for a WaterSense-labeled smart irrigation controller, drought-tolerant landscaping, rain barrel, and more. Click here  to learn more.

News briefs

Western states turn to homeowners to deflect drought. Learn more here .

Blog Post on Water Reuse and Housing Equity by AWE Board member Jennifer Walker. Learn more here .

Kids can help California save water in the drought. Try making a game out of it. Learn more here 

Saving water also saves energy. Learn more here .

California bans watering of "non-functional" ornamental grass at commercial and industrial buildings. Learn more here .

94% of Texas is Currently Experiencing some form of Drought Conditions. Learn more here 

'Flash drought' conditions reported as far east as Massachusetts amid a record-breaking hot summer. Learn more here .