Water Efficiency Watch - July 2023

In this issue...

  • 2023 Water Efficiency & Conservation Symposium
  • Policy Updates
  • AWE Research Updates
  • News from Members and Partners
  • Member Spotlights
  • News Briefs

Water Efficiency & Conservation Symposium

We are excited to host our first annual AWE Symposium, August 2-3, 2023, in Chicago, Illinois, including a pre-symposium workshop and social event on August 1st!  The in-person Symposium will feature a mix of presentations, panels,  roundtables, and networking, with a primary focus on actionable research and resources and peer-to-peer learning for water efficiency and sustainability professionals. Register today!

Don’t Forget to Reserve a Room with AWE’s Hotel Black

We have reserved a block of hotel rooms at the Crowne Plaza: West Chicago Loop for the evenings of Tuesday, August 1st, and Wednesday, August 2nd. To reserve a room in our block, please use this link here or let the hotel know that you are interested in a room within the Alliance for Water Efficiency's hotel block. The discounted rate is $187 per night (there is no additionally discounted rate for government employees). 

Hotel Address: Crowne Plaza: Chicago West Loop
                          25 South Halsted Street
                          Chicago, IL

Hotel Phone Number:  (312) 829-5000

Symposium Sponsorships Available 

A range of sponsorship opportunities 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 would like to explore the right sponsorship level for your company or organization, please email Rachel Austin DeBruin.

Thank You to our Inaugural Symposium Sponsors 

Policy Updates

National Legislative Overview

AWE’s policy team is hard at work advocating for greater water efficiency consistent with AWE’s 2023 policy priorities. In Congress, AWE continues to meet with legislators to discuss the possible creation of new, nationwide grant programs dedicated to municipal water efficiency projects and utility water loss auditing and control. Additionally, AWE continues to advocate for federal legislation that would make water efficiency rebates and subsidies tax-free to customers. 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.

In recent executive branch activity, AWE has been urging the Bureau of Reclamation to include municipal water efficiency and water loss in more of its grant programs. Reclamation has included these water efficiency projects in its recently announced Lower Colorado River Basin Conservation and Efficiency Program RFP. Applications are due July 19th, and AWE is available to discuss this opportunity with members in AZ, CA, and NV.

State Legislative Overview

In the 2023 state legislative sessions, AWE focused much of its efforts on supporting members in the Colorado River Basin. For example, AWE supported and contributed to the New Mexico Water Conservation Alliance’s efforts to pass legislation (HB 352) that would have prohibited the installation of non-functional turf starting in 2025 and limited watering of non-functional turf starting in 2030. HB 352 failed to pass out of committee by one vote, and we understand our local partners are considering their options for the future. We are also monitoring Governor Hobbs’ Water Policy Council in Arizona and meeting with some of its members. The council is tasked with modernizing the Arizona Groundwater Management Act, and AWE wants to ensure water efficiency is front and center.

Some other recent state activities that AWE is following include recent efforts in Colorado and Utah to provide or increase funding for turf replacement programs. In Colorado, it was House Bill 1151, which passed in 2022, and in Utah, it was SB 188, which passed in 2023. AWE is following a bill in New Jersey on water loss auditing and control. Senate Bill 278 would require an AWWA water loss audit and validation for systems serving more than 3,300 customers. The bill has been favorably reported out of committee and still has the potential to be passed into law in 2023.

AWE Research Updates

AWE is excited to be launching several impactful and timely research projects with numerous AWE members participating. Together, we can advance knowledge and drive meaningful change across the industry and our communities. We invite you to share any known literature or experience on these topics; review below and reach out if you have something to contribute. liesel@a4we.org

Mobile Homes Study: Partnership with three utilities in Colorado to provide retrofit and repair services for mobile home parks/manufactured housing parks. This project will also include broader research on water conservation potential for this customer type and explore issues like submetering, billing practices, and more. This project started in April and we hope to launch the retrofit and repair efforts by the end of the summer. Have you run any programs for or studies on water use in mobile homes or manufactured housing?

AMI Primer: This resource will highlight the many ways utilities can and do use AMI for conservation and efficiency. This project had a soft kick-off in June, and there’s still time to join if your organization has been on the fence. Do you have any examples to share of how your organization is using AMI for conservation and efficiency?

Next Phase of AWE’S Outdoor Research Initiative: Large Landscapes: This project will assess water savings from non-residential landscape transformation and irrigation optimization strategies across multiple utilities. We are finalizing project participants this summer, and the project will launch in the fall. Do you know of any literature or research out there? Do you know of any experts or stakeholders we should incorporate into our engagement plan?

Peak Demands: This project is still in the recruiting and fundraising phase as we focus on launching the other projects. The goal is to assess trends in peak demands across multiple utilities and geographies and assess water demand management strategies aimed at reducing peak demand. Has your organization been successful in lowering peak demands? Or is peak demand an increasing problem? Reach out to discuss a possible partnership on this project.

An Assessment of Water Affordability & Conservation Potential in Houston, Texas, Released

AWE’s report, An Assessment of Water Affordability and Conservation Potential in Houston, Texas, evaluates water affordability in Houston and the extent to which water efficiency and conservation can help families, particularly disadvantaged families, lower their water and sewer bills. The analysis in this report revealed that the most impacted households will go from paying about 13 percent of yearly income on water in and sewer bills in 2019 to over 21 percent projected in 2025. AWE highlighted that water efficiency and conservation strategies can lower ongoing water use and bills and improve affordability for customers. The measures assessed are estimated to achieve an average of 15 percent bill savings, though some strategies could save up to 34 percent.

AWE hosted a webinar on this topic, “All of the Above: Local and National Water Affordability Strategies” on May 23, 2023 (see below).

Recent AWE Webinars

AWE/Flume Household Water Use Index | April 20, 2023 

AWE and Flume Data Labs hosted a webinar focused on indoor and outdoor residential water use trends for the largest 15 Metropolitan Service Areas, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Washington DC, Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Phoenix, Boston, San Francisco Bay Area, Riverside, Detroit, and Seattle. The webinar also featured Flume data and drew upon AWE’s 2022 State Policy Scorecard for Water Efficiency and Sustainability, with commentary on how state fixture standards may be affecting water use. Watch the webinar here.

All of the Above: Local & National Water Affordability Strategies | May 23, 2023 

Utility affordability challenges are affecting more households as the cost to provide water services increases due to regulations, aging infrastructure, changes in population and economies, and addressing climate resiliency. Water rates are rising faster than inflation and all other utility costs, and in many areas, bills are rising at a faster rate than incomes. Helping households reduce their water use is one of multiple effective affordability strategies. Join this webinar for both a local and national lens on water affordability issues and the range of possible solutions, with a facilitated panel conversation. You’ll hear about AWE’s latest report assessing affordability and the impacts of water conservation in the City of Houston, plus hear from the authors of an April 2023 report demonstrating the need for a permanent Federal Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program. Watch the webinar here.

Membership Spotlights

Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District Achieves Platinum G480 Status

Congratulations to Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District for achieving the highest level of recognition under the ANSI-AWWA G480 Standard.  To achieve Platinum Status, a water department must come into one hundred percent compliance with the requirements of the G480-20 Standard. This means it must demonstrate that conservation and efficiency have been incorporated into the most critical aspects of its 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 examples of elements required under the G480-20 Standard—each of which requires significant resources, staff time, and staff time and planning. Addressing these elements, as well as the others required under the standard, is truly an accomplishment.   

We are honored to receive the AWE Platinum Award," said EVMWD Board President Andy Morris. "Receiving the next level of recognition is a testament to the dedication of our customers to water savings and the hard work of our staff in ensuring long-term water sustainability."

The Alliance for Water Efficiency is proud to provide free G480 reviews to all of its members and is happy to see members like EVMWD taking the initiative to meet this voluntary but important standard. In achieving Platinum Status, EVMWD has shown a commitment to conservation and efficiency, securing its community’s public health and safety, and protecting the environment. Thank you for serving as an example to the water community by way of your commitment to conservation.   

Groovy, Water-Wise Garden Debuts at the County Fair

Debby Dunn, the Water Resources Specialist for the San Diego County Water Authority, recently created her own “Groovy Garden” at the San Diego County Fair, which was brimming with water-wise flowers and greenery.  

Debby planted pollinators to invite birds, bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds into her landscape. The goal of her garden was to educate fairgoers about sustainable, water-wise gardens through color, entertainment, and humor. Her display included upcycled furniture and yard art surrounded by informative signs about irrigation, rainwater capture, mulch, and more. Debby was thrilled and honored to win the fair’s Educational Merit Award. Congratulations Debby!

Gary Klein & Associates on a Recent Podcast Episode

Check out the latest Appetite for Construction podcast episode featuring AWE member Gary Klein of Gary Klein & Associates. The episode, which was released on April 25th,  features an hour-long discussion on efficiency, codes, Hunter Curves, and more. Listen to the “Getting Into Hot Water with Gary Klein”  podcast episode here.

News Briefs

Nevada Considers Capping Water Use for Homes in Vegas. Read More 
Biden-Harris Administration Announces $233 Million in Water Conservation Funding for Gila River Indian Community. Read More
As Sea Levels Rise, the East Coast is Also Sinking. Read More
Saudi Company Draws Unlimited Arizona Ground Water to Grow Alfalfa, Amidst Drought. Read More
Lake Mead Water Level Stalls as Lake Powell Continues Strong Rise. Read More
Arizona Restricts Some New Development Over Groundwater Concerns. Read More