Water Efficiency Watch - November 2019

In this issue of Water Efficiency Watch…

  • Water Efficiency in Congress!
  • AWE Signs Multiple Showerhead MOU with PMI
  • AMI Project Update and November 21 Webinar
  • AWE Water Star Award winner:  Kathy Nguyen
  • Revising the AWE Tracking Tool
  • Update on AWE’s Cooling Technology Study
  • Member Interview: Carl Yates, President of Yates Water Management, former GM of Halifax Water
  • Member Spotlight: Dynamic Water Technologies’ Water Treatment Solution Reduces Water Use in Cooling Towers
  • AWE Website- Member Access
  • CalWEP Plenary on December 11 in Santa Barbara, California
  • AWE Member News
  • News Briefs and Web Links
  • How to Submit Content for Water Efficiency Watch

Water Efficiency in Congress!

AWE has been working very hard on your behalf on two water efficiency issues in Congress. Here is an update:

  1. WaterSense® - Both the House and Senate have passed appropriations bills to fund the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for fiscal year 2020, which actually began on Oct. 1.  Good news:  Both measures include report language instructing EPA to continue funding the WaterSense® program at least year’s levels.  Bad news: The two chambers are currently deadlocked over how to allocate the overall federal budget, and it appears that this stalemate will lead to a government-wide “continuing resolution” that will direct funding of all government departments and agencies through February or March at current spending levels.  Since WaterSense® is currently being funded under existing appropriations measures, it will continue to be funded under such a continuing resolution.  And because the House and Senate spending bills for fiscal year 2020 direct EPA to fund WaterSense®, that will be the case once Congress eventually enacts EPA appropriations.  We continue to closely monitor this situation and to work toward specific line-item funding rather than congressional instructions to fund WaterSense® in future spending bills.  But this will take time.
  2. Tax-Free Water Conservation Rebates - We continue to work toward inclusion of H.R. 2313, the Water Conservation Rebate Tax Parity Act sponsored by Rep. Jared Huffman, D-CA.  This legislation would make rebates for water conservation and storm-water runoff efforts exempt from federal taxes, just as energy conservation rebates have been for many years.  Because of the difficulty in passing any new, stand-alone tax legislation at this time, we are working to get H.R. 2313 attached to a so-called “green tax bill” comprised of several energy tax breaks, including biofuel and efficiency incentives, that have expired or will lapse by the end of this year.  As with all legislative activity in Congress, however, the stalemate between the House and Senate over spending measures and the focus on the House impeachment probe have severely restricted opportunities to move bills toward passage in both chambers.  It appears that consideration of any “green tax bill” will be pushed into next year.

We will keep you posted on developments on both issues.

AWE Signs Multiple Showerhead MOU with PMI

For some time, AWE has been concerned about the issue of multiple showerheads in single shower stalls, and particularly how the subject is treated in green stretch codes that stress water efficiency.  After some negotiation, on November 7th AWE and the Plumbing Manufacturers International (PMI) came to an agreement and signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to deal with this issue. AWE had been concerned that differing provisions were being considered at many green codes and standards venues: IAPMO’s Water Efficiency and Sanitation Standard (WE-Stand); ASHRAE’s Standard 189.1 Standard for the Design of High-Performance Green Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings; the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED); the WaterSense® Homes specification; and other such forums.  At issue was whether these green codes would potentially allow multiple showerheads that flow in excess of 2.0 gpm in shower compartments designed for only one person.  The agreement reached between AWE and PMI will work to ensure water efficiency in green homes and buildings, and also work to provide harmonization of requirements in green codes and standards on this important issue.

The agreement limits the combined flows of multiple showerheads serving a one-person shower compartment to a maximum of 2.0 gpm, and stipulates that shower compartments designed for two persons be constructed using two separate shower valves which are installed no less than 96 inches apart measured horizontally, ensuring that such shower compartments are indeed designed for two people.  Both organizations agree to support this provisions at all green code and standard venues.  Signing the agreement are Kerry Stackpole, CEO of PMI, and Pete DeMarco, Chair of the AWE Board.

AMI Project Update and November 21 Webinar

Together with the California Water Efficiency Partnership (CalWEP), AWE has been working on a project to enable better purchasing and implementation of Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) by water utilities across North America.  Released earlier this year is a template RFP for bidding AMI systems, stressing the need for interoperability between AMI products.  The RFP is available in an editable MW Word version.  Also completed is a Guidance Manual which will cover best practices on implementing AMI systems, written by Don Schlenger and distilled from some forty years of experience in this area. It provides a practical structure for thinking about and managing AMI projects, as well as tools and examples to guide water utilities.  The Manual is offered at a 20% discount to AWE and CalWEP members.  To purchase the manual, click here. Both of these products will be discussed in a webinar on November 21, which will be free to AWE members.  Join us for it!  Register here

2019 AWE Water Star Award Winner: Kathy Nguyen

Each year, AWE presents The Water Star Award in recognition for individual excellence in water efficiency and to celebrate the “unsung hero” who makes a significant impact by their quiet dedication, passion, and progressive approaches to move water efficiency and conservation forward.

At the WaterSmart Innovations Conference in October, AWE presented the 2019 Water Star Award to Kathy Nguyen of the Cobb County Water System in Marietta, Georgia. Nguyen was presented the award for her extraordinary contribution to her utility’s water efficiency goals, for her tireless commitment to the highest standards of program effectiveness, and for her selfless dedication to helping others be successful in the water industry in her state.

Some of Kathy’s many accomplishments include:

  • Awarded the Communicator of the Year Award from the Georgia Green Industry in 2008.
  • Chaired the Irrigation Association SWAT Promotional Working Group from 2013-2016.
  • Chaired the Alliance for Water Efficiency’s Education and Outreach Committee from 2013-2018.
  • Chaired the Georgia water Wise Council from 2007-2010.
  • Chaired the Georgia Section of American Water Works from 2013-2014.
  • Implemented and trained Georgia Water utilities on Water Loss auditing for the State of Georgia and managed the Qualified Water Loss Auditing training process for Georgia from 2016-2019.

Revising the AWE Water Conservation Tracking Tool

The AWE Water Conservation Tracking Tool is an Excel-based planning model that AWE members can use to evaluate the water savings, costs, and benefits of conservation programs.  Using information entered into the Tracking Tool from a utility’s system, it provides a standardized methodology for water savings and benefit-cost accounting, and includes a library of pre-defined conservation activities from which users can build conservation programs.

The Tracking Tool is widely used by over 300 AWE members, and many utilities in California rely on it for their conservation planning to meet state requirements.  Different versions of the Tracking Tool have been developed for unique state regulatory environments.  For example, one version is specific to the plumbing codes, appliance standards, and landscape requirements in California.  However, California is currently in the process of making significant changes to these regulations.  To continue providing effective water conservation planning support to California urban water suppliers, the California version of the Tracking Tool is being updated, and those updates will benefit all AWE Members.

The project is underway, and the contemplated updates and modifications to the Tracking Tool include:

  • Improved indoor and outdoor water use accounting and GPCD target tracking;
  • New functionality to evaluate costs and benefits of CII mixed-use meter conversion;
  • New functionality to assess water savings and cost-effectiveness of CII water use audits and management reports for different types and sizes of commercial and industrial water users;
  • New functionality for tracking costs and water savings of water loss auditing, reporting, and leak detection and repair activities;
  • Updates to the Tracking Tool Library to incorporate the most current information on implementation costs and water savings for conservation activities aimed at reducing residential indoor, landscape, and CII water uses;
  • Updates to the Tracking Tool Library to incorporate the most current information on implementation costs and water savings for utility leak detection and repair activities.

AWE Member utilities wishing to be involved in designing these Tracking Tool revisions should contact Mary Ann Dickinson 

Update on AWE’s Cooling Technology Study

You have probably heard about AWE’s exciting Cooling Technology study that has been underway since January.  Why is it exciting?  For the most part, cooling towers are a poorly understood end use of water, and they represent a huge water savings opportunity.  AWE is generating tools and resources to help its members tap into this potential and to enable utilities to take their conservation programs to the next level. 

AWE is working with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and eleven AWE members to create an Excel-based tool and guide to help utilities start to build a cooling tower inventory, estimate conservation savings potential in cooling towers, evaluate alterative cooling technologies, and generate guides and resources to create effective water utility cooling tower programs.

Where are we now?  The team is currently working toward finalizing an Excel-based tool and guide to help water providers start to build a cooling tower inventory.  This resource will help build the foundation of a cooling tower program and will estimate the number of cooling towers in a service area, the cooling tonnage, and water used for cooling.  This is the first-of-its-kind resource and represents a critical step in improving cooling tower efficiency.

This is the largest project ever taken on by AWE, and funding is still needed to reach the finish line.  Funders providing $10,000 USD or more gain a seat on the Project Advisory Committee (PAC).  This provides the opportunity to be part of the process, and to gain early access to resources.  Now is a great time to join, as the PAC will be beta testing the Excel-based inventory tool soon!  To learn more please contact AWE Director of Programs, Bill Christiansen

Member Interview:

Carl Yates, President of Yates Water Management, former GM of Halifax Water

AWE’s Lacey Smith spoke with Carl Yates, President of Yates Water Management Inc to get his unique perspective on water efficiency after he led Halifax Water in its ground-breaking programs to control water loss. Yates is the former General Manager of Halifax Water, and currently serves on the Board of Directors of AWE. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

You’ve had a recent career shift! Can you tell me about your previous position?

I was general manager of Halifax Water. I was with the utility for 31 years overall, 25 of them as general manager, so I’ve seen a lot of change. It’s all been progressive change: good for the utility and good for our customers. I grew up in a small town in Newfoundland, in Deer Lake, and we were literally surrounded by water: lakes, rivers, or manmade canals, so water was always flowing through me. I started my career as a geotechnical engineer so I was heavily involved in building canals and dams, and generally getting to understand things below the ground. I worked in consulting for five years and then joined Halifax Water in 1988. After 31 years, I finally said “that’s enough” and retired from Halifax Water this past July. I went on vacation for two months and now I’m back in the consulting business – I opened Yates Water Management to promote and support municipalities and utilities pursuing sustainable management of water.

What are some of the highlights of your career so far?

In particular there are two big highlights for me: I had the privilege to lead two significant mergers as the utility’s mandate expanded. In 1996, we went from a utility that was strictly providing drinking water to the City of Halifax to a regional mandate. We actually had a forced municipal amalgamation which we affectionately refer to it as a “shotgun wedding”: we were told we were getting married and that was that. Four municipal units came together with all water assets transferred to Halifax Water. That was certainly a cornerstone in my career. We accomplished great things as a result, including improving infrastructure for all in the region and becoming leaders in water loss control.

In 2007, we were given the opportunity again to expand our mandate. The municipality knew that federal wastewater effluent regulations were becoming an issue and their infrastructure was in rough shape. A common theme we’re seeing in North America is that people don’t look after things if they can’t see them. The municipality at least had the courage to look at it and decided they needed to do something different. They started talking about behaving more like a utility and adopting best practices, like Halifax Water. One councilor said, “Let’s not bother to behave like Halifax Water, why don’t we turn the whole system over to them?” So that’s what happened. In 2007, the municipality’s wastewater and stormwater assets were transferred to Halifax Water with a mandate to clean the place up. We went from grossly out of compliance to full compliance with regulations, and at the same time made significant investments above and below the ground in the renewal of infrastructure.

You gave a great AWE webinar on water loss control and Halifax’s story – will you talk a bit about water loss control?

In 1998, we had a real issue with one of our systems in Dartmouth. We were building a brand new treatment plant and one of the issues that we faced right away was how big to make the plant. We took a close look at the distribution system and realized it was leaking like a sieve. That’s when we started looking at water loss control. We were determined to size the plant appropriately. At the time, we were looking at a plant with a capacity of 16 MGD, but many people thought we should make it bigger because we were putting out 14 and a half MGD. This is the only time I’ll use percentages because I don’t like them, but easily 35 percent of the water was never reaching customer taps.  As a result, we built the plant at 16 MGD average day capacity, then we had to go find the lost water and recover it. We adopted the International Water Association methodology, which later became the AWWA methodology as portrayed in the M36 Manual. We were successful using that methodology in Dartmouth then went to Halifax to tackle the leakage problem there. Over time, we went from an Infrastructure Leakage Index of 9 down to around 2.6, which represents roughly 10 MGD of leakage recovery and savings of $650,000 on an annual basis. So I told you that plant was previously putting out 14 and a half MGD – what do you think it puts out now on an average day?

How much?

It was doing 14 and a half MGD in 1996 and today it does about 7 and a half. We recognize that some of that comes from people being more efficient with water use but the bigger part was curtailing leakage. We adopted a methodology with a strong technical approach as well as a strong change management approach – we had to do things radically different than in the past. We had to cut out the witchcraft that was around water loss control. A lot of people were making a lot of assumptions and practicing unsound methodologies.

In adopting this new methodology and trying to overcome the old ways, how did you get people on board?

We showed them the problem, first of all. Identify the problem, put your methodology in place, set targets, and reward good performance and modify behavior. We banned the term “unaccounted-for-water”, set up strong performance measures and we enforced that behavior with individual performance and corporate awards. Simple things, like throwing a barbecue when we reached an ILI of 4 – that was very exciting. It’s one thing to have the methodological approach, but the rank and file people want to be motivated to be a part of this. And in the end we got everybody on board. I couldn’t stop water loss control at Halifax Water if I tried, it’s so embedded now. It’s part of the culture.

That’s where we need to be everywhere. Still working on that.

There are some success stories. I love what Knoxville is doing. They’ve got a very similar story to us: they’ve got one of the few distribution systems that’s fully segregated into permanent District Metered Areas. I know it’s going to catch on. As the climate crisis is becoming front and center, these types of initiatives are going to be critical.  As such, the water loss control initiative is a highlight of my career and something I still feel great about and continue to promote.

I’d love to hear about some of your non-work activities. Do you have any hobbies you’re doing more of, now that you’re retired?

After I retired, my wife and I took off for a couple months of vacation with our two Jack Russell Terriers. We’re big campers and hikers so we visited several national parks in Canada in our truck camper. We were also able to coordinate our summer travels to be there for the birth of our third grandchild in Montréal. I’m also an avid runner. It’s a great sport because no matter where you go, you can run. I still want to be running in my 80s, if I can.

Do you have any advice for other water conservation professionals?

We can talk about technical solutions all day, but the most important thing we can all do is make sure we connect with our society in a way they can understand. Let’s watch out for our technical jargon, let’s bring it down to earth so people understand what we’re talking about, and hopefully find ways that we can connect with them emotionally to get them to change their behaviors. If we can get people to change their behavior, we will be very successful. The climate crisis is a good context for change: if people understand that this is critical for their survival, then all these new efficiency trends can be adopted and adapted and we can make some progress. We’ve really got to find solutions that people can relate to.

Member Spotlight: 

Dynamic Water Technologies’ Water Treatment Solution Reduces Water Use in Cooling Towers

As discussed above, AWE is currently undertaking a multi-objective study on cooling technologies to help water providers identify water cooled facilities in urban areas, determine the conservation potential for these systems, and develop practical guides to create incentive and outreach programs for cooling tower systems.  It is clear that there is an opportunity for water efficiency gains by focusing on cooling:  cooling and heating use 28 percent of water in office buildings, 20 percent in hospitals, and 12 percent in hotels in the United States (EPA, and certain technologies already exist to help make water conservation a priority in cooling systems.

AWE member Dynamic Water Technologies (DWT) offers an electrochemical process water treatment shown to reduce water use and chemicals. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) study on two 150-ton cooling towers using the DWT solution at the GSA Juliette Gordon Low Building in Savannah, Georgia resulted in 32 percent water savings, and 100 percent chemical savings. According to DWT, the technology works by removing unstable minerals in water to allow for high cycle rates, while limiting scale, corrosion, and bio-contamination. The reactors create biocides from the chlorides in the water providing protection from bio-contaminants, and high pH to prevent corrosion.

NREL’s latest study features DWT’s system at Los Angeles City Hall East. The system resulted in 20 percent annual water savings, and NREL reported in Testing and Evaluation of a Chemical Free Cooling Tower Water Treatment Technology  that water quality including pH, hardness, and biological growth met all site-specific standards.

Dynamic Water Technologies’ immersion in the cooling industry goes beyond the electrochemical water treatment product. Since no technology can be effective without proper operation, the company has invested in training clients and operations staff on preventative maintenance and industry standards. Mike Boyko, Principal of DWT comments on the future of the cooling industry, “It is now starting to be very public and obligations can’t be neglected. Water is becoming more stressed, population density is increasing, the consumer price index of water is increasing faster than any other utility, and there are higher standards for sanitation.”

Success in reducing cooling tower water consumption will require collaboration and a combination of strategies, such as innovative technologies such as those provided by DWT, smart financing, and the right knowledge and insight to be able to create effective incentive and outreach programs to properly educate facility operators. Boyko offers general advice to water managers looking to target inefficient water use facilities with cooling towers: “It is important to provide as much marketing exposure of real-world solutions because people want to see them. Due to misused solutions and failures, many alternative treatments are now being independently evaluated.”

Click here to learn more about Dynamic Water Technologies

Note:  To get a current update on AWE’s Cooling Technology Study, see the article on the study in this newsletter.  If you like to talk to the AWE team further about this work or to join the project, please contact Bill Christiansen

CalWEP Plenary on December 11 in Santa Barbara, California

California has been plagued with an extraordinary number of wildfires this fall, causing much damage and hardship.  Strategies are being sought to help communities create defensible space landscaping to help curb wildfire damage.  CalWEP’s Winter Plenary on December 11 in Santa Barbara will address this issue. Trathen Heckman, Founder and Director of Daily Acts Organization, will present the Keynote: Fire Survivor Garden Installations. In partnership with the Sonoma County Water Agency and the City of Santa Rosa, Daily Acts developed eight templates for scalable water/fire/resource resilient landscape designs. These designs are intended to expedite permit approval installation of new landscaping in areas impacted by the fire.

Check out the complete agenda  below and register here

AWE Website Feedback

AWE recently launched a new website, in which members get access to member-only content and resources when they are logged into the member portal. If you are having any trouble accessing the member content, or have any other questions or feedback, please contact us

Here are a few helpful links:

AWE Member News 

  • AMWUA launches Plants for the Arizona Desert website to help people plan their yard. Read more here
  • AWE Board Member Maureen Westbrook becomes first woman president of Connecticut Water. Read more here
  • AMWUA comments on recently completed study of water augmentation options for regions of Arizona. Read more here
  • The Northwest Water & Energy Education Institute at Lane Community College was interviewed on KCST twice earlier this month on their work to develop a water efficiency training program.  Listen to it here
  • Rezatec, based in the UK, published a case study of their pipeline risk monitoring solution with Utilities Kingston in Ontario, Canada. Read more here
  • LAist provides feedback for the revamped Metropolitan Water District’s turf replacement rebate program. Read it here
  • St. Johns River Water Management District launches a year long “Water Less” campaign focusing on outdoor water conservation and efficiency. Read more here

News Briefs and Web Links 

  • The Georgia Environmental Protection Division has declared a Level 1 Drought Response in 103 out of 159 counties. This entails circulating drought and conservation messaging, and adhering to an outdoor water use schedule with certain exceptions. Read more here
  • Nevada Assemblyman Howard Watts, discusses water in Nevada and how the Nevada Legislature passed AB 163—which improves water efficiency and conservation plans in Nevada in Las Vegas Sun op-ed. Watts introduced the bill which focuses on water loss, and revises the minimum standards for plumbing fixtures going forward. Read it here
  • Circle of Blue reporter Brett Walton had a conversation with Patrick Breysse, Director of CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry at the 2019 Legionella Conference. The conversation covers the focus on Legionella at the CDC and what the CDC is doing. Read it here
  • The seven-state agreement to save the shrinking Colorado River, signed earlier this year, is already having a positive impact, with Lake Mead measuring 22 feet higher than expected. Now, officials are working on how to protect water supplies beyond 2026, when the existing guidelines expire. Read more here
  • Phoenix and Tucson have built a strong water conservation ethos which has allowed them to thrive despite an unaccommodating climate. Read more here
  • In a changing water climate, new and improved water systems that are resilient and adaptable are essential. Water reuse is a possible solution. To make water reuse a useful opportunity for people living in Canada, the Water & Resource Recovery Lab (University of Alberta) want to understand people's perspectives on water reuse. Click here  to take a 15-20 minute survey to contribute your thoughts. Results will be used to develop guidelines for water reuse.

How to Submit Content for Water Efficiency Watch 

Water Efficiency Watch welcomes submission of articles, photos, stories, commentary, new technologies, web links, etc.  Please email your submission to Liam McCarthy

DISCLAIMER: The Alliance for Water Efficiency reports on research and information as a service. This should not be considered an explicit or implicit endorsement of any product, service, research effort, analysis, etc. unless specifically so indicated.