Water Efficiency Watch - March 2020

In this issue of Water Efficiency Watch...

  • WaterWays Platform launched as New AWE Member Benefit
  • Fix-a-Leak Week
  • World Water Day
  • Lake Mead Rising
  • Are Our Water Efficiency Standards Still in Jeopardy?
  • AWE Op-ed in Resilience Matters: Action in an Age of Uncertainty
  • Next Webinar on April 16 in AWE’s Exemplary Programs Series
  • Brave Blue World Movie Coming Out
  • Whirlpool's Water Efficiency Research
  • Member Interview: Amy Talbot, Regional Water Authority
  • SWAT 2020 Awards
  • AWE Coronavirus Update
  • Member Updates
  • News Briefs/Web Links

WaterWays Platform Launched as New AWE Member Benefit

AWE launched a fabulous brand-new member benefit in February: discounted access to the AIQUEOUS WaterWays® Rebate Management Platform. Built on the industry-leading Salesforce.com Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, WaterWays is a cloud-based solution for water efficiency program delivery and management, which features online rebate applications for customers and management of those rebate applications, as well as reporting summaries for the utility in a convenient dashboard format. AWE members can license WaterWays (and also WaterRebates.com if desired) at a discounted annual rate of only $3,600 per year. Click here to learn more about this exciting opportunity to better deliver water efficiency rebates to your customers. Click here to view AWE’s webinar demonstrating how the platform works and how members can take advantage of this amazing benefit.

Fix-a-Leak Week

EPA’s WaterSense Program is once again launching Fix-a-Leak Week from March 16-22, and WaterSense partners from across the country are kicking off the week by tweeting #FixaLeak. You can join everyone by chirping in your own Fix a Leak Week plans or promotions. On March 18, 2020 sign up for the Joint WaterSense and ENERGY STAR Webinar: “Fix-a-Leak With WaterSense and Beat Water Waste.”

Annual household leaks waste 1 trillion gallons of water nationwide, which is equivalent to annual water use in 11 million homes. Common types of leaks found in the home are worn toilet flappers, dripping faucets, and other leaking valves. These types of leaks are often easy to fix, requiring only a few tools and hardware that can pay for themselves in water savings. Here are some great resources to help you hunt down the drips:

  • AWE members can order copies of the Practical Plumbing Handbook, which provides basic instruction on how to repair and perform preventative maintenance on the fixtures in your home—a terrific resource for utilities to distribute to customers in their service area.
  • Arizona Municipal Water User's Association has a great Smart Home Water Guide .
  • Thornton Water in Colorado provides tips and tricks to find hidden water waste  indoors and outdoors.
  • The EPA WaterSense website offers more information on how you can get involved with Fix a Leak Week .

World Water Day

World Water Day is March 22! This year’s theme is about water and climate change, and how the two are inextricably linked. Learn more here about what is being done globally to adapt to the water effects of climate change, and how you can get involved in raising awareness about this important topic. AWE will be doing social media postings that day with a special infographic. Watch for it!

Lake Mead Rising

Lake Mead has reached its highest level in six years after successful efforts to slash water use and the welcome addition of snow. The increase in water supply is crucial because Lake Mead, which is fed by the Colorado River, provides water to more than 40 million people in seven states in the fast-growing Southwest. Conservation programs from utilities in the region, including AWE partners the Southern Nevada Water Authority, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and the Irvine Ranch Water District, are largely responsible for the turnaround. However, water managers caution that measures such as greater use of groundwater will be needed when the reservoir likely resumes its decline in the coming decades amid population growth and a warming climate. Learn more here.

Are Our Water Efficiency Standards Still in Jeopardy?

In our last newsletter we reported on the President’s public attacks on water efficiency standards and what AWE plans to undertake in the event of any definitive action being taken at the federal level. Read our analysis of the situation here.

At this point there is no news to report, as issues such as impeachment and coronavirus have dominated the President’s attention. But we are remaining vigilant. We understand that there may be a Federal Register notice published soon that will ask for public commentary on the efficiency and performance of water efficient plumbing fixtures, clothes washers and dishwashers. Once that notice is published, we will rally the troops to provide supportive comments. Stay tuned. And watch for an analysis of what the President can actually legally do, prepared by our attorney friends at the Environmental Law Institute. We will post that analysis soon.

AWE Op-ed in Resilience Matters: Action in an Age of Uncertainty

AWE’s President and CEO, Mary Ann Dickinson, has been featured in a new e-book compilation from Island Press titled, Resilience Matters: Action in an Age of Uncertainty. The book includes Mary Ann’s op-ed, “The Water Resource Right Outside your Window,” which provides an overview of AWE’s 2019 Landscape Transformation Study and outlines how outdoor water-use efficiency provides a mostly untapped strategy to stretch existing water supplies. Click here to view Mary Ann’s op-ed. Click here to download the full book from Island Press.

Next Webinar on April 16 in AWE’s Exemplary Programs Series

AWE’s Exemplary Programs series showcases creative solutions to water utility conservation programs. On Thursday April 16 at 11 a.m. CDT we will feature two utility programs: 1) The Municipal Water District of Orange County and its regional water loss management program where MWDOC’s shared services provide their retail water suppliers flexible and cost effective access to specific water loss control technologies and expertise to improve water loss within their systems; and 2) the Southern Nevada Water Authority with its fire pumping simulator program, which recirculates the pumped water used in fire training exercises. Instead of using up to 300,000 gallons per training day, they use less than 2,000 gallons. This will be a great webinar, so watch for the registration notice.

Brave Blue World Movie Coming Out

A new documentary film, Brave Blue World, explores how humanity is adopting new technologies and innovations to rethink how we manage water. The film reveals an optimistic future as it tells the stories of water pioneers who are implementing groundbreaking solutions to address global water and sanitation challenges. Click here  to learn more about Brave Blue World, to watch the trailer, and to arrange a screening in your area.

Whirlpool's Water Efficiency Research Shows Interesting Results

AWE partner Whirlpool has completed two studies on water conservation and water quality which they are willing to share with AWE members. The first study explores the savings and water quality issues associated with the ReNEWW House at Purdue, showing that water quality can vary by room and by the season. Click here  to learn more. The second study examines which uses more water: hand washing or dishwashing? The Study was conducted by the University of Michigan. Click here  to learn more.

Member Interview: Amy Talbot, Regional Water Authority

Amy Talbot is the Water Efficiency Program Manager for Regional Water Authority in the Sacramento, California region. She sits on the Board of Directors for the California Water Efficiency Partnership and the Alliance for Water Efficiency.

How long have you worked in water, and what brought you here?

I received my undergraduate degree in Geography at the University of Texas - Austin in 2005, then almost 15 years later I received my master’s degree in Geography at University of California – Davis in 2019. My thesis focused on drought response in the Sacramento region from the 2014-2016 drought and related state legislation and regulation. Professionally, I started out as a regional environmental planner at the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) . In the beginning, I worked on a variety of topics including green building policy and helped facilitate public meetings. Later in my time at CMAP, a state-issued Executive Order directed our agency to develop one of the state’s first regional water supply plans, and I was assigned to the staff team to lead the demand management plan chapter. Although I had some environmental background, it wasn’t specifically in water efficiency so I needed to learn a lot of new information quickly. During that process, I connected with Mary Ann Dickinson, President and CEO of AWE, who recommended I read Amy Vickers’s Handbook of Water Use and Conservation . I started reading Amy’s book and anything else I could get my hands on about water efficiency. I also started calling up people in the broader world of water efficiency, asking how they approached regional water supply planning and how they incorporated water efficiency into their plans. After nearly three years, we finished and released our plan, Water 2050 . I wrote the chapter on demand management, which included water efficiency and also calculated potential water and energy savings at the 11-county regional level. The plan was published in March 2010 and I’ve been hooked on water efficiency ever since.

As part of plan implementation, we linked our water related activities to a larger, newly created program at CMAP to do direct technical assistance for local municipalities. I developed two water conservation plans for the Village of Oak Park and City of Evanston. I was able to continue to develop expertise in water loss, water efficiency, watershed planning, and model ordinances over the next several years. Chicago’s long and ice-cold winters prompted me to look for jobs elsewhere, which is how I ended up in California. Mary Ann forwarded me a job posting at Regional Water Authority (RWA) . I applied the day before it closed and interviewed on the phone a week later. A week after that, they flew me out for an in-person interview and two months after that, I was in California ready to start my first day at RWA. I’ve been there ever since managing our regional water efficiency program. It’s been 7 and a half years and I still love it. After my experience in planning at CMAP, I wanted to experience the implementation side, especially because implementing programs would give me a more informed background to make policy recommendations.

With your academic, planning, and implementation backgrounds, what do you see as some trends in the field of water efficiency?

A trend I see on the implementation side is targeted efficiency programs and consumer-facing water data tools to communicate real-time water data. Water agencies have been doing efficiency for decades and are largely done with the low-hanging fruit, like general rebate offerings. Now they want to target and reach out directly to high water users. Utilities can tailor efficiency programs to customer type, as opposed to a toilet rebate open to everyone. Making things easier on customers is also a trend. Most people don’t want to fill out paper rebate forms to save a few bucks anymore. Utilities can create one-stop shop websites where customer can go online, purchase a discounted controller, agree to an in-person check-up from water agency staff, and move on. We’re moving towards more customer- and staff-friendly programs. Time and resources are limited so we want to do more with less resources.

What do you enjoy doing in your time outside of work?

I love to be outside. In the winter, I snowboard at Sugar Bowl Resort every weekend. It’s like a getting a front row seat to how that year’s snowpack will be. In the summer, I like lounging and hiking at the Yuba River. I also kayak and I’m trained as a whitewater rafting guide. Basically, I like enjoying all sorts of the water related fun that northern California has to offer.

Do you have any pieces of advice for early career water conservation professionals?

I used to think I needed to be technically proficient above all else - be up to date with all the latest and greatest technology. But now I realize what’s been most helpful in my career has been developing skills on the people side of things. My one piece of advice is to be good with people—learn your own style of working with people and master it. I do much less technical work now; it’s all about relationships, getting to know your colleagues and working together, identifying strengths in others and bringing them out for the good of the group or purpose. You need to have a balance of technical and people skills. Another important thing is to just listen. Listen to people who know more than you do and ask a lot of questions.

SWAT 2020 Awards

Has your city, county or utility actively promoted outdoor water-use efficiency? If so, nominate your utility for a Smart Water Application Technologies (SWAT) award! These awards recognize water providers committed to promoting outdoor water use efficiency by building partnerships with landscape and irrigation professionals and engaging with end users. The application deadline is March 31, 2020. Click here to learn more and apply! Awards will be presented at the WaterSmart Innovations Conference in Las Vegas this October.

AWE Coronavirus Update

AWE is concerned about the safety of its employees, so in accordance with CDC guidance on this we have closed the Chicago office and will be working remotely until the crisis abates. We ask our loyal and valuable members to email us with any needs that you have rather than calling the office on the phone. Email us at maryann@a4we.org or office@a4we.org and we will be happy to take care of you.

Member Updates

  • Kane County, IL has adopted several goals related to waste reduction, water efficiency, renewable energy, and other environmental issues. Thanks to a program called LEED for Cities and Communities, Kane County will be able to better track the effectiveness of their sustainability initiatives. Learn more here .
  • West Basin Municipal Water District relaunches its “Cash for Kitchens” program with additional water savings devices. Learn more here .
  • Rezatec and Isoil Industria won a contract to provide innovative satellite data analytics to Italian multi-utility, HERA Group. Learn more here . Rezatec also joined forces with Black & Veatch to bring a new perspective to the management of utility infrastructure. Learn more here .

News Briefs/Web Links

  • California is back in a drought, a new report shows. Learn more here .
  • Researchers from Pennsylvania State University and Cranfield University (U.K.) are developing a toilet surface coating that may reduce water demands by up to 90%. Learn more here .
  • Understanding Coronavirus Exposure for Plumbing Professionals - AWE Board Chair Pete DeMarco offers advice on dealing with the pandemic to those in the plumbing industry. Learn more here .
  • Climate Change Threatens Colorado River and the Water Supply for 40 million people. Learn more here .