Water Efficiency Watch - March 2021

In this Issue of Water Efficiency Watch:

  • AWE Hires Ron Burke as President and CEO
  • AWE Releases Cooling Tower Estimating Model and Guide
  • Ron Voglewede Appointed to Michigan Council on Climate Solutions
  • WSI 2021
  • Legal Appeal of DOE Rulemakings
  • AWWA Releases New G480 Standard
  • New EPA Specifications
  • Fix a Leak Week
  • Tax-Exempt Rebates in GREEN Act
  • Upcoming Webinars
  • AWE Corporate Advisory Council
  • News Briefs

AWE Hires Ron Burke as President and CEO

The Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE) is excited to announce the hiring of Ron Burke as its new President and CEO. After spending the first twenty years of his career working on environmental policy and programs for nonprofits, the U.S.  Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Illinois EPA, Ron has devoted the last decade to leading a sustainable transportation nonprofit and, more recently, working in the private sector with Lyft Bikes and Scooters.

“I am excited to return to nonprofit, environmental work, and believe this opportunity is an especially good fit given my personal passion for AWE’s efficient and sustainable water mission,” said Burke.

After founding President and CEO Mary Ann Dickinson announced her plans to retire, the AWE Board began a comprehensive national search for a new leader, considering dozens of resumes and conducting several rounds of interviews before selecting Ron for the position.  

“Ron will be a superb addition to AWE”, said AWE Board Chair Pete DeMarco.  “During his career, he has helped to elevate the impact of nonprofit organizations through increased fundraising, improved internal and external collaboration, strategic communications, updating and implementing strategic plans, and a commitment to making change happen through collaboration and business savvy.  We look forward to having him apply his skills to help AWE grow.” 

Ron’s career has included time as Deputy Executive Director of the American Lung Association of Metropolitan Chicago’s Programs and Policy Division, Associate Director for the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, Midwest Office Director for Union of Concerned Scientists, and Executive Director at the Active Transportation Alliance.  Prior to accepting the job as AWE’s President and CEO, Ron served as the Head of Micromobility Policy, Central U.S., for Lyft Transit, Bikes, and Scooters. This included developing and implementing Public Private Partnerships, contract terms, equity programs, operations, data sharing, and legislation.

The AWE Board is confident that Ron’s unique combination of experience and passion for environmental sustainability make him a great fit to advance AWE’s mission and expand the organization’s impact. Ron will take over as President and CEO on March 22, 2021.  In her retirement Mary Ann will remain a Technical Advisor to AWE.

AWE Releases Cooling Tower Estimating Model and Guide

AWE has released its highly-anticipated Cooling Tower Estimating Model (CTEM) and the accompanying guide titled, Taking Inventory: A Guide for Identifying Cooling Towers and Estimating Water Use. The AWE Cooling Tower Estimating Model (CTEM) is an Excel-based tool that provides an estimated range of the number of water-cooled facilities, number of cooling towers, total cooling capacity, water use, and water conservation potential for a utility service area based on a minimal amount of input data. CTEM can also be used to develop a cooling tower inventory, a critical first step in creating or refining a cooling tower water efficiency program. 

Base features of CTEM can be used with the following data inputs:

  • Country (United States or Canada)
  • State or Province
  • County (for U.S. locations)
  • Service Population
  • Water Quality (measured in total dissolved solids (TDS) or conductivity)

Taking Inventory: A Guide for Identifying Cooling Towers and Estimating Water Use is a companion to CTEM, providing instruction on how to use the model, identify cooling towers, and initiate a cooling tower inventory.

The development of CTEM and this guide is a key step to increasing the effectiveness of incentive and outreach programs for the efficient use of cooling water. With CTEM estimates, suppliers can begin to understand the conservation potential in cooling towers, develop marketing and conservation efforts, and record facility participation.   

A webinar will be held with the project team on Thursday, April 8. Click here to register.

Member-Only Benefit

The Cooling Tower Estimating Model is available free of charge to AWE members, as a member-only benefit, but it is subject to your agreement to the Cooling Tower Estimating Model Terms of Use. If you have not already requested the model, sign-in here to gain access to the Terms of Use form. Not a current member? Join now! 

Ron Voglewede Appointed to Michigan Council on Climate Solutions

AWE Board Vice-Chair Ron Voglewede, Global Sustainability Director at Whirlpool Corporation, is one of 14 Michigan experts appointed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer to the state’s new Council on Climate Solutions. The Council was created in September, 2020 and acts in an advisory capacity to Governor Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) to formulate and oversee the implementation of the Michigan Healthy Climate Plan, which will serve as the action plan for this state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and transition toward economywide carbon neutrality.

“I fully believe that these appointees will help us fully implement the MI Healthy Climate Plan and will be laser-focused when it comes to combating the direct threat of climate change,” Governor Whitmer said. Ron Voglewede is appointed for a term commencing February 3, 2021 and expiring February 3, 2024. Click here  to learn more and to view the full list of appointees.

WSI 2021

Save the dates for the WaterSmart Innovations Conference and Exposition (WSI) in Las Vegas, October 6-7, 2021. Presented by the Southern Nevada Water Authority and numerous forward-thinking organizations, WSI is the largest urban water-efficiency conference of its kind in the world.

Water-efficiency professionals and others from across the United States and around the globe are invited to participate in a full slate of comprehensive professional sessions and an expo hall highlighting the latest in water-efficient products and services. On the Tuesday before the conference begins, AWE will hold its three advisory committee meetings and its Annual Member Meeting with the traditional Music Night in the evening.

Click here  to learn more.

Legal Appeal of DOE Rulemakings

The Alliance for Water Efficiency, Environment America  and U.S. PIRG  filed two appeals to protect federal efficiency standards for showerheads clothes washers, and dryers . The appeals challenge two Department of Energy rules enacted in the final months of the Trump Administration.

Up until now, showerheads could not be sold or installed in the United States if they released more than 2.5 gallons per minute of water as a total shower flow. The Department of Energy’s new rule changes that regulation so that each nozzle on a multi-headed showerhead could meet that standard. That means showerheads with multiple nozzles have the potential to expel far more water and consume more energy (which is required to heat the water) than previously allowed.

The clothes washers and dryers rule creates a separate class of “short-cycle” machines that do not have any underlying federal water or energy efficiency standards.

The Alliance for Water Efficiency submitted detailed comments  signed by 60 water utilities and other organizations to the Department of Energy about the showerhead rule, and submitted a comment letter with 58 signatures about the clothes washer rule.

“We are pleased to participate in this appeal of these two rules.  We are especially concerned about the impact of the showerhead rule,” said Mary Ann Dickinson, president and CEO of the Alliance for Water Efficiency. “This misguided rule would waste billions of gallons of water and significantly raise consumers’ water bills. It would also severely compromise water supply availability for many water utilities, especially in the arid West.  The dishwasher new product class rule would have impacts as well.”

The legal appeals were filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Keep an eye on AWE’s news page for further updates.

AWWA Releases New G480 Standard

The American Water Works Association released an update to its voluntary G480 Standard in February.  The standard titled, Water Conservation and Efficiency Program Operation and Management, can be purchased here . AWE will start accepting applications for verification to the updated standard later this year.

This standard describes the critical elements of an effective water conservation and efficiency program. It encompasses activities undertaken by a utility within its own operations to improve water use on the supply side upstream of customer meters through distribution system management, and on the demand side downstream of customer meters through customer billing and education practices. A program meeting this standard has the potential to impact all water users.

Click here to learn more about AWE's verification process and to view the Leaderboard of verified utilities. 

New EPA Specifications

Soil Moisture Sensors

After more than a decade of research and collaboration with industry and other stakeholders, The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released performance criteria for products that effectively tailor irrigation schedules to meet landscape water needs based on measurements of moisture in the soil.

Soil moisture-based irrigation controllers, also referred to as soil moisture sensors (SMSs), reduce water waste outdoors and promote plant health. Manufacturers of SMSs are now able to partner with WaterSense and have their products tested and certified to earn the WaterSense label.

Now that SMSs can earn the WaterSense label, WaterSense is providing consumers with multiple paths for landscape water savings. Click here  to view the full WaterSense Specification for Soil Moisture-Based Irrigation Controllers and learn more about this exciting development.

WaterSense labeled homes

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the final WaterSense® Labeled Homes Program, Version 2. This update will enhance and modernize the WaterSense labeled homes program that EPA began in 2009.

The WaterSense Labeled Homes Program, Version 2:

Improves collaboration between WaterSense and other green building certification programs and stakeholders.

Increases flexibility in meeting WaterSense’s technical requirements without compromising on overall water efficiency or performance.

Allows for easier implementation and certification of WaterSense labeled homes.

The updated program will make it easier for industry stakeholders to participate in the WaterSense labeled homes program and also allow homeowners to continue enjoying the high performance and water efficiency they have come to expect from WaterSense labeled homes.

Click here  to learn more about WaterSense Home Specifications.

Fix a Leak Week

Save the dates for the annual EPA WaterSense Fix a Leak Week, March 15-21, 2021. WaterSense created new tools to assist with planning and implementing remote outreach efforts:

  • Plan a virtual 5k race for runners, walkers, and kids that promotes finding and fixing leaks.
  • If you usually hold in-person leak detection workshops, WaterSense offers best practices for hosting a virtual workshop.
  • Promote an online campaign or social media contest with Take the 10-Minute Challenge .
  • Join the EPA WaterSense Twitter Party on March 15 at 1 p.m. EDT and exchange ideas about tracking down leaks.

AWE partners Houston Public Works, Dallas Water Utilities and Fort Worth Water will host a virtual class line-up featuring some of the leaders in the leak repair industry providing comprehensive information about repairing simple water leaks inside and outside the home. Click here  to learn more and to register for these not-to-be-missed workshops.

  • Part 1: Indoor Leak Repair will be held Tuesday, March 16 from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. CDT.
  • Part 2: Outdoor Irrigation Leak Repair and Cold Weather Pipe Protection will be held Thursday, March 18 from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. CDT.

Click here  to learn more about how you and your community can participate in Fix a Leak Week!

Tax-Exempt Rebates in GREEN Act

AWE’s long battle to make water conservation and storm water management rebates free of federal taxation took another major step forward in early February when all 34 Democrats on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee signed on to The GREEN Act—a bill that would make those changes in the federal tax code.

The GREEN Act would provide tax incentives for renewable energy and energy efficiency, including tax-free rebates and other credits for water conservation and stormwater management. It remains to be seen whether such a focused tax measure can advance on its own without being added to a larger piece of legislation. Last year’s H.R 2—the first instance of the House or Senate passing such changes to the tax law—was a massive $6 billion package of infrastructure improvements.

AWE will continue to work with the Coalition to Promote Water Conservation (CPWC), the partnership of utilities and water groups that we helped to organize, in urging House and Senate tax writers to include tax-free water conservation rebates in any tax plan that emerges in the new Congress next year. Check AWE's Legislative Watch page for further updates.

Upcoming Webinars

In addition to the webinar about CTEM on April 8, AWE is excited to host the following webinars:

AWE/EPA WaterSense Outdoor Water Webinar - Benefits of Soil Moisture Sensors

Join AWE and EPA WaterSense March 11 at 1 p.m. CDT to hear Michael Dukes from the University of Florida discuss best practices for soil moisture sensors (SMSs) and Evelyn Reyes from the San Gabriel Valley (California) Municipal Water District discuss lessons learned from developing an SMS rebate program. WaterSense will also offer an overview of its newly released final SMS specification and AWE will discuss its Learning Landscapes Grant program. Click here to register.

Water and Planning Network: Water and Comprehensive Planning - Theory to Practice

Join AWE and the Water and Planning Network on March 25 at 1 p.m. CDT. Erin Rugland of the Babbitt Center for Land and Water Policy will walk through the logistics of integrating water into a plan, drawing on knowledge from several Southwest states. Manohar Patole (LLM, MUP), New York University, and Rachelle Sanderson (CC-P), Capital Region Planning Commission of Louisiana, will describe the work currently underway by the Capital Region Planning Commission on the development and implementation of a governance model for basin management and planning of Watershed 7 of the Louisiana Watershed Initiative (an initiative towards managing future flood risk in Louisiana through watershed-based solutions). Melissa Dickens, AICP, of the Hillsborough County Planning Commission in Tampa Bay will showcase the Hillsborough County One Water Chapter and how to develop implementable water resources comprehensive plan language in coordination with technical experts. Click here  to register.

AWE Corporate Advisory Council

AWE has established a Corporate Advisory Council with representation from nine of its Business and Industry members. This council will serve as an advisory body on water efficiency issues affecting AWE’s business partners. The CAC may suggest useful products and services AWE could develop, provide feedback on current and planned AWE initiatives that may impact businesses, and generally keep AWE abreast of trends and issues affecting industry. Here are the inaugural members of the Corporate Advisory Council:

  • Econics (Kirk Stinchcombe, Managing Director)
  • Hunter Industries (Warren Gorowitz, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility)
  • Jacobs (Susan Butler, Global Technology Leader, Water Resource Management)
  • LIXIL Water Technology Americas (Troy Benavidez, Vice-President of Public Affairs)
  • Procter & Gamble (Shannon Quinn, Global Water Stewardship Leader)
  • Scotts Miracle-Gro Company (Carol Kauffman-Nowlin, Manager of Corporate Social Responsibility)
  • Sloan Valve Company (Patrick Boyle, Director of Sustainability)
  • TOTO USA (Fernando Fernandez, Director of Codes and Standards)
  • Water Management, Inc. (Russ Horner, President)

The first meeting of the council will take place on April 1, 2021.

News in Brief

Largest-Ever Climate Poll: 64% Say Climate Change Is a Global Emergency. Learn more here

Plumbing Manufacturers International Optimistic About Biden Administration’s Priorities. Learn more here

Metrus Energy Announces New Project with Daimler Trucks North America. Learn more here

Op-ed: Water Utilities Need to Completely Reset Their Business Models. Learn more here

USBR investing $15.4 million to help communities mitigate drought and climate change impacts in Western United States. Learn more here

Canada to establish Canada Water Agency to coordinate national efforts to protect water resources. Learn more more

New study suggests humans evolved to run on less water than our closest primate relatives. Learn more here

Flume hosts a webinar exploring water use trends in 2020. View the webinar here

EPA WaterSense has created a new tool, Remote Possibilities: WaterSense Partners Find Creative Ways to Promote Savings. Learn more here (Partner login required)