Water Efficiency Watch - October 2023

In this issue...

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

2023 Water Efficiency & Conservation Symposium



Thank you to everyone who attended AWE's inaugural Symposium! The event was an incredible three days of professional development, relationship building, and hands-on learning opportunities for the 150+ attendees who participated in the conferences from across North America, representing water and wastewater utilities, government agencies, and business and industry partners.

The Symposium featured presentations, panels, and roundtables, primarily focusing on actionable research and resources and peer-to-peer learning for water efficiency and sustainability professionals. A range of topics were covered in the Symposium’s two-track program agenda, including sessions such as “Future Visions for Conservation Programs: New Development & Long-term Planning”, Water Efficiency: Exploring Equitable and Effective Solutions to Address Affordability”, and “State Perspectives on Water Conservation, Drought, & Climate Change”.

The event was a success, and the energy from attendees was palpable, from laughter echoing throughout Chicago’s iconic Navy Pier at the Welcome Reception on night one, the buzz of classroom sessions where participants broke into small group discussions, and heated debates taking place over Poll EV on some of the most pressing issues facing water conservation practitioners. Our AWE staff and Board of Directors are hopeful that the dialogue sparked in Chicago will have positive ripple effects across North America as attendees return home with fresh ideas, new questions, and hopeful best practices to implement in their communities.

Congratulations to our 2023 AWE Member Awardees

- Excellence in Equity Award: Colorado Springs Utilities
- Business Innovation Award: Flume
- Utility Innovation Award: San Diego County Water Authority
- Up & Comer Award: Chris Garcia, Environmental Resources Planner | Inland Empire Utilities Agency
- Water Star Award: Christine Chavez, Water Conservation Manager | City of Santa Fe, New Mexico
- Affiliate Member of the Year: International Association of Plumbing & Mechanical Officials
- Business & Industry Member of the Year: The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company
- Water Supplier Member of the Year: Metropolitan Water District of Southern California 
- Volunteer of the Year Award: Jill Greiner, Water Efficiency Program Coordinator | City of Charlottesville, VA

Learn more about our awardees here.

Thank you to our 2023 Symposium Sponsors

Help us Shape the Program for the 2024 Symposium

Our AWE staff is eager to begin planning for our 2nd annual event! Join us Tuesday, October 17th, from 2:00 – 3:30 pm Central for a kick-off of the 2024 Symposium Program Advisory Committee.

The invitation is open to all members. This group will help provide feedback and inform the development of the 2024 Symposium program – everything from deciding on a theme for next year’s gathering, deciding on priority session topics, shaping the abstract process, exploring field trips, and more!

Click here to sign up for the first planning meeting.

Policy Updates

Congressional Overview

AWE’s policy team has continued advocating for greater water efficiency consistent with AWE’s 2023 policy priorities. In Congress, AWE has been a vocal supporter of the Water Efficiency, Conservation, and Sustainability Act of 2023, and you can find AWE’s President and CEO speaking to the need for this legislation in Senator Padilla’s press release. AWE continues to advocate for federal legislation to be reintroduced this Congress that would make water efficiency rebates and subsidies federal income tax-free to customers, and AWE is hopeful that this legislation will be reintroduced this spring. This legislation was most recently introduced in the prior Congress as the Water Conservation Rebate Tax Parity Act. 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 submitted comments on the WaterSense® Notice of Intent to Revise the Specification for Tank Type Toilets supporting for dual flush toilets the elimination of the 2:1 effective flush volume, and the establishment of a max flush volume of 1.28 gpf.

Executive Branch Overview

In September, the Alliance for Water Efficiency, alongside home appliance manufacturers and consumer, climate, and energy and water efficiency advocates, agreed to a consensus plan to improve the efficiency standards for refrigerators and freezers, beverage and wine chillers, clothes washers, clothes dryers, dishwashers, and cooking products. This plan relates to the ongoing efforts of the Department of Energy (DOE) to update the efficiency standards for these appliances. If adopted by DOE, the proposed standards for residential clothes washers and dishwashers would save more than 2 trillion gallons of water over 30 years. To put that in perspective, this is the same amount of water that 1.33 million average U.S. homes would use over 30 years. These water-related savings are in addition to the overall estimated energy savings of more than 9 quadrillion Btu from the range of appliances being considered.

The work on the consensus plan follows AWE’s recent work submitting comments to DOE in support of greater water efficiency related to residential dishwashers submitted in July 2023 and residential clothes washers submitted in May 2023.

State Legislative Overview

In preparation for the 2024 state legislative sessions, AWE continues to focus much of its efforts on supporting members in the Colorado River Basin. AWE is actively supporting members as they consider state and local policy related to limiting and replacing non-functional turf. AWE is collaborating with the Appliance Standards Awareness Project to update its model legislation to provide for more water efficiency, and requirements related to WaterSense irrigation controllers are currently under consideration.

AWE Research Updates

CII Landscapes Report Released

AWE collaborated with Regional Water Authority (RWA) to prepare a report titled "Water and Energy Savings Estimates for CII Landscapes Upgrade Projects".  RWA is a joint powers authority representing water providers and affiliates in the Sacramento region of California. This report evaluates ten project sites from RWA's Commercial, Industrial, and Institutional (CII) Landscape Upgrades Program that received incentives to upgrade their landscape plant material, irrigation systems and equipment, or both.  

Using a water budget approach to estimate water savings post-installation from these CII landscape projects, significant water savings are expected across these sites, with some noteworthy variations from site to site. The ten projects, four landscape transformations, and six irrigation technology upgrades, are estimated to save about 251 million gallons in total over a projected 15-year period, estimated water savings were calculated using an AWE customized version of the EPA WaterSense Water Budget Tool, which is often used to help builders, landscape professionals, and irrigation professionals to meet the requirements of the WaterSense labeled homes program. These upgrades are also expected to result in meaningful energy savings and avoided greenhouse gas reductions, which were calculated using AWE's Water Conservation Tracking Tool

This project was funded by the Bonneville Environmental Foundation and Procter & Gamble. RWA also partnered with WaterWise Consulting, Inc. on the pre-and post-installation inspections and with California Water Efficiency Partnership on providing customers with site maintenance training. 

The upgrades to these CII landscapes were completed in 2022, and in the future, RWA plans to revisit the project sites by evaluating their water savings over time and comparing the savings with the estimates. Learn more here.

Advanced Metering Infrastructure Primer Project 
Earlier this summer, our staff launched the Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) Primer project in June 2023. This resource will highlight how utilities can leverage and implement advanced metering infrastructure for water conservation and efficiency efforts.

AWE Begins Next Phase of Outdoor Water Research Initiative
In September, the AWE team launched the next AWE Outdoor Water Research Initiative phase. This work focuses on understanding water savings, multiple benefits, market readiness, and common challenges from utility programs focused on landscapes beyond the single-family home, including commercial, multi-family, and neighborhood common spaces and more.  

Recent & Upcoming AWE Webinars

Residential End Uses of Water, Version 3 | September 5, 2023

Alliance for Water Efficiency and the Water Research Foundation (WRF) hosted a recent webinar promoting the WRF’s RFP for Residential End Uses of Water, Version 3 (REU).

The REU version 2, published in 2016, has been the water sector’s go-to resource for residential water use data and statistics. The next version will build on the prior single-family residential water use data and be expanded to include multifamily residential water use. In this 30-minute webinar, you will learn more about the RFP and how your organization can participate by submitting a proposal or agreeing to be a utility participant in the study.

WRF is actively looking for water providers to volunteer to be a part of this important project. For further details and to learn more about getting involved, please email WRF Research Program Manager Sydney Samples (ssamples@waterrf.org).

Bringing Water Savings to Your Community with WaterSense Labeled Homes | October 18, 2023

On Wednesday, October 18, at 1:00 p.m. Central, AWE will host a webinar with EPA WaterSense to highlight how changes to the program open new opportunities for builders and communities looking to meet the demand for water and sustain growth in their communities. We will share an overview of the WaterSense labeled homes certification process, how WaterSense-labeled homes use less water outdoors, and local governments' incentives for water-efficient homes.

Register for the webinar here.

News from Our Members & Partners

Tohono O’odham Nation and Surprise, AZ Partner Together for an Innovative Plumbing Project

The Tohono O’odam Nation recently awarded $30,000 to the City of Surprise, Arizona’s Water Resource Management Department for an innovative plumbing project for lower-income, high-water use customers. Over the years, utility billing technicians noticed a disturbing trend where customers with confirmed leaks stated they couldn’t afford to hire a plumber. Some of these same customers also had delinquent accounts which only exacerbated their problems. The grant funding will support quarterly “Community Day of Service Events” which will connect customers with plumbers who will provide up to $750 worth of leak related plumbing repairs to help them curtail their water bill and save our precious water resources. This is a win-win-win scenario for the customers, the plumbers, and our water resources.

Daughter of AWE Member Featured in a Water Wise Tips for Kids News Segment

Earlier this summer, eight-year-old Hazel, (daughter of AWE Member and Program Manager for the Regional Water Providers Consortium, Bonny Cushman) shared her best tips for conserving household water with Portland, Oregon’s news team KATU. In this clip, water warrior Hazel highlights everything from the importance of turning off the faucet when you brush your teeth to showing viewers how to check for a toilet leak using food dye. She was named KXL FM News 101’s “Everyday Hero” for her passionate advocacy!

Way to go, Hazel, we appreciate your commitment to stewarding water and practicing conservation as a way of life!

Athens-Clarke County Hosts 14th Annual Water Fest

Congratulations to the Athens-Clarke County Water Conservation Office for hosting another successful festival! The Athens Water Festival is a local event highlighting the importance and value of water in a fun, family-friendly environment. Over 1,000 residents attended Water Fest this year, whose 2023 theme was Elemental, based on the new Disney and Pixar movie about fire, water, air, and earth. Attendees made a splash learning about how these elements shape their lives. This year’s festival boasted 20 interactive games, displays, and activities all about water. Attendees had the chance to break gems out of solid ice, find all the elements on Wade's Water Scavenger Hunt, and dissect pitcher plants to determine what they have been eating.

The Athens Water Festival is a collaborative community event bringing together government agencies, non-profit organizations, student groups, and families, all in the name of water. This year, 26 organizations attended the event, providing hands-on, engaging activities for all ages. Older kids looked through microscopes to observe zooplankton while the younger learners built pipes and made play dough clouds in the “Lil Squirts” zone.

Congrats, ACC Water Conservation Office, on another great event!

WaterSmart Innovation Kicks off on Tuesday!

The annual WaterSmart Innovations (WSI) conference, hosted in Las Vegas, Nevada, will occur between October 3-5, 2023. The focus of this year’s convening is “The world of water is finite. Find new ways to protect and conserve.” WSI sessions will cover everything from advancing the adoption of efficient products to expanding the use of AMI, alternate water supplies, stakeholder engagement, and more. The exhibit hall will feature pioneering creators of advanced water products, services, and strategies.

To learn more and register, click here.

News Briefs

Five Takeaways from the New York Times Investigation of America’s Groundwater Crisis. Read More
California is Moving to Outlaw Watering Some Water That’s Purely Decorative . Read More 
Environmental Groups Sue Utah Over Failure to Protect Great Salt Lake from Brink of Collapse. Read More
Idalia Rapidly Intensified in Extremely Warm Gulf of Mexico. Read More
The Toxic Aftermath of the Maui Fires Could Last for Years. Read More
Colorado River Basin Has Lost Enough Water to Fill Lake Mead. Read More
Water Bills Are Rising, Here’s What to Do About it. Read More
A Florida City Famous for Its Water Worries It Might Run Out. Read More