Water Efficiency Watch - March 2023

In this issue...

  • 2023 Water Efficiency & Conservation Symposium
  • Policy Updates
  • AWE 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!

Presenting at the Symposium: Call for Abstracts 

AWE welcomes abstract proposals on a variety of topics to create a rich program, including sessions with panels, roundtables, small breakout discussions, minds-on brainstorming, co-creation sessions, lightning sessions, as well as traditional presentations.   

To apply, please fill out the abstract submission form, and indicate the topic or idea you would like to present on. The submission window is open now through Friday, March 31, 2023, at 5 pm CST. The goal is to notify program contributors by April 30, 2023, and to release the full Symposium program in June 2023. For questions, please email Liesel Hans, AWE's Director of Programs. 

Click here to learn more about the Symposium and the abstract submission process.

Symposium Sponsorships Available 

There is a range of sponsorship opportunities available, including Presenting, Gold, Silver, and Bronze sponsorship packages as well as 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.

Policy Updates

AWE has been working hard for its members and water-efficient policies on multiple levels – U.S. Congress, the Executive Branch, and State Legislatures. We’ve posted AWE’s 2023 policy priorities on our website, and we ask any interested members and partners with ideas on these policy priorities, additional priorities, or how to accomplish them, please reach out to our new Senior Manager of Policy and Programs, Andrew Morris, who is supporting this work.

So far in 2023, AWE has:

Urged Reclamation to Make Drought Funding Available to Urban Water Efficiency Projects

AWE has also been urging and coordinating with the Bureau of Reclamation to ensure a portion of the $4 billion drought relief funding from the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 is available for mid- and long-term municipal water efficiency projects, in addition to the temporary fallowing of farm fields. After coordinating a sign-on letter with 35 partner organizations in September 2022, AWE has continued to correspond and meet with the Bureau of Reclamation on this topic. Specifically, AWE has requested that these funds be made available for state and local non-functional turf replacement programs, legacy plumbing fixture replacement programs, and utility water loss auditing and control programs.

Supported the Inclusion of WaterSense Requirements in Proposed State Fixture Efficiency Laws

We have been monitoring state plumbing fixture efficiency bills in several states and providing comments to state-level stakeholders and legislative committees for the adoption of requirements that plumbing fixtures sold in-state have WaterSense labels. You can follow this work here- https://www.allianceforwaterefficiency.org/resources/topic/state-fixture-standards-matrix.  

Engaged with WaterSense, and Started Process with DOE, on Water Efficient Products

AWE worked with interested members of its WaterSense-Water Efficient Products Committee to develop and submit comments supporting WaterSense’s notice of intent to develop a specification for spray sprinkler nozzles. AWE is also ramping up an effort for interested members to review and provide comments on DOE’s notice of proposed rulemaking to revise its standard for residential clothes washes, which presents an opportunity for substantial water efficiency gains. Please reach out to Andrew Morris if you are interested in joining this discussion. We will be working towards DOE’s comment submission deadline of May 2, 2023.  

AWE Updates

2022 State Policy Scorecard for Water Efficiency & Sustainability Released 

The Alliance for Water Efficiency’s 2022 U.S. State Policy Scorecard for Water Efficiency and Sustainability (Scorecard) was released in January 2023.  It evaluates and ranks each U.S. state based on the adoption of laws and policies that advance water efficiency, conservation, sustainability, and affordability. California was the top-ranked state followed by Texas, Arizona, Washington, Georgia, New York, Nevada, New Hampshire, Colorado, and Minnesota to round out the top ten.  

While some states improved since AWE’s previous Scorecard was released in 2017, the analysis found little progress overall, even as droughts and other climate change impacts increasingly undermine affordable, reliable water services. The average state score was only 23 out of 89 possible points.

“Providing sustainable water services is increasingly costly and complicated because of climate change and other factors,” said Ron Burke, President and CEO of AWE. “It’s important that states, as well as the federal government, support local efforts to reduce water use with financial assistance, policies that drive best practices, and planning that facilitates cooperation across watersheds.”

The 2022 State Policy Scorecard for Water Efficiency & Conservation Full Report, Executive Summary, and Individual State Scorecards are available here

AWE Releases AMI Report 

AWE’s latest Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) effort is encapsulated in the report Evaluation of AMI-enabled Proactive Leak Notification Programs. To learn more about the report, join us on March 29th at 11:00 AM CST for a webinar where we will summarize the findings from this report, including how many homes typically have leaks, how notifications affect how long leaks last, and how often they occur. Get the latest snapshot of what over 100 other utilities are doing related to customer portals, AMI-enabled leak notifications, high usage notifications, leak adjustment policies, leak inspection services, and more. This webinar will include a facilitated Q&A session with utilities, plus a chance for you to get your questions answered. Register here.

Webinar panelists will include :

  • Liesel Hans, Director of Programs, Alliance for Water Efficiency
  • Greg Bundesen, Water Conservation and Communications Supervisor, Sacramento Suburban Water District
  • Kevin Galvin, Water Conservation Administrator, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission
  • William Granger, Water Conservation Coordinator, City of Sacramento

If you're interested in getting more involved, we invite you to join the ongoing conversation in the CAMI group (Conservation + AMI), a group of utility enthusiasts that meets quarterly to share results, lessons, and tips related to all things AMI – reach out to Liesel Hans to get on the distribution list.

Recent and Upcoming AWE Webinars

Planting Trees for the Future | March 30, 2023 

AWE and EPA WaterSense are co-hosting a webinar with Amos Arber and Carlos Bustos, of Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority (ABCWUA), to highlight ABCWUA’s “Treebate” program, as well as incentives, education, partnerships, and irrigation guidelines that ABCWUA has implemented to support the restoration of the urban forest in Albuquerque.

 In 2012, the U.S. Forest Service published the results of an urban forest assessment that identified Albuquerque, New Mexico, as one of the worst areas for urban tree loss in the United States. In response, the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority (ABCWUA) launched the “Treebate” program to promote tree care, proper watering, and tree planting among its customers. Register today for this webinar here

Emerging Trends in Non-Functional Turf | February 22, 2023

AWE partnered with CalWEP and Eagle Aerial to host a webinar sharing emerging trends, highlighting strategies to identify NFT, and providing insights to help folks develop local NFT programs.

Across the Western U.S., non-functional turf (NFT) has become a hot topic. From statewide regulations banning the irrigation of NFT to potential state legislative actions to local ordinances, many water agency staff are now being tasked with both identifying and developing programs to address NFT. A recording of the webinar is available here

2022 State Policy Scorecard | February 2, 2023

In January, the five-year update to AWE's State Policy Scorecard for Water Efficiency and Sustainability was released. This webinar addressed changes in state-level laws pertaining to efficiency and conservation. It also covered national trends and observations from the research, state-specific highlights, and perspectives from state-level officials. A recording of the webinar is available here

News from Members and Partners

In Memoriam of Thomas Pape

We recently learned that our colleague, AWE Technical Advisor, and dear friend Thomas Pape passed away after a long illness. It is a tragic loss to the national water conservation community. Below is an excerpt of a memorial post in Tom’s honor, penned by former AWE President, Mary Ann Dickinson, and Pete DeMarco of IAPMO, former AWE Board Chair.

"Tom dedicated his life to supporting the cause of efficiency. He managed hundreds of projects and participated in simplifying dozens of codes and standards. The United States and, indeed the world owe Tom deep gratitude for his tireless efforts to ensure built-in efficiency in water and energy-using products and appliances, which will benefit us all for many decades to come. Tom was a good friend, colleague, and one-of-a-kind, larger-than-life human being. We already sorely miss him."

The full post and a link to Tom’s obituary can be found here.


Member Spotlights

Santa Rosa Transforms Grass Into Water-Saving Landscapes 

Congratulations to the city of Santa Rosa, which, since 2007, has transformed over 4 million square feet of grass into beautiful, water-saving landscapes with efficient irrigation systems, like drip irrigation, through the Cash for Grass rebate program and technical support.

More than 3,800 Santa Rosa Water customers have participated in the Cash for Grass rebate program managed by Santa Rosa’s Water-Use Efficiency Team. To achieve this significant milestone, the team assisted customers with replacing more than 1.3 million square feet of commercial and 2.7 million square feet of residential grass with estimated water savings of one billion gallons over the lifetime of the projects.

“Santa Rosa Water is very proud of its long-standing commitment to providing our customers with the tools they need to eliminate water waste and use water efficiently,” said Jennifer Burke, Director of Santa Rosa Water. Since 1990, Santa Rosa Water has invested over $21 million into WaterSmart programs. The result is 2.3 billion gallons of sustained reductions in water use, which is a 14% reduction in total water demand, despite a 53% population increase.
Visit SRCity.org/WaterSmart to learn more.

Doug Bennett Retires from SNWA & Awarded Joseph Kneidinger Sustainability Award

Excerpt from the Fall 2022 IAPMO Official Magazine, reposted with permission:

“Doug Bennett's water career launched more than 40 years ago as a high school student digging ditches and assembling PVC irrigation piping for a landscape company. At the time, he had no idea this grueling job was his first step on a lifelong career path in water management.

In 2000, Bennet became conservation manager for the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA), the regional water agency for the Las Vegas metro area. At the time, the city's principal water supply, the Colorado River, was in a period of abundance. As Bennet pulled his U-haul trailer across Hoover Dam, the water was just a dozen feet from spilling over. Within 24 months, however, all that would change. 

In 2002, the Colorado River flowed at just one-fourth of normal, forcing Southern Nevada to make radical changes in water use. Bennett implemented water use compliance measures and established the nation's most aggressive landscape conversion program. He developed the nation's first large-scale program to develop water-efficient homes to help address the rapidly growing community's need for housing. 

For continually advancing the fact that preserving the environment is indeed an integral aspect of the public health and safety we are dedicated to protecting, IAPMO thanks Doug Bennett by honoring him as the 2022 recipient of the Joseph Kneidinger Sustainability Professional of the Year Award.”

News Briefs

Scorecard Finds that Most States Are Responding Slowly to Escalating Water Supply Challenges. Read More 
Water Conservation Remains a Huge Concern in the West, Colorado College Poll Shows. Read More
Great Salt Lake Going Dry. Read More
Water Matters: How Santa Fe is Fulfilling a New Regional Water Conservation Agreement. Read More
Millions of Californians Struggle to Pay for Water. Read More
Three Reasons Why California's Drought Isn't Really Over, Despite all the Rain. Read More