Why did EPA create WaterSense?
EPA realized that managing water supplies was becoming an increasingly important issue to local markets around the country. Through this national program, local water utilities, product manufacturers, and retailers will work with EPA to encourage the use of water-efficient products and practices among consumer and commercial audiences.
Why does the United States need a water-efficiency program?
Water is a finite resource. Between 70 and 75 percent of the Earth's surface is covered with water, but only 1 percent of that is available for human use. While both population and demand on freshwater resources are increasing, supply remains constantthere is the same amount of water now as there was 2 billion years ago. Water efficiency helps preserve our water supply for future generations.
What is the goal of WaterSense?
The main goal of the program is to decrease indoor and outdoor nonagricultural water use through more efficient products, equipment, and programs. With its recognizable label, WaterSense helps consumers easily identify water-efficient products in the marketplace while ensuring product performance and encouraging innovation in manufacturing.
How will success be measured?
EPA will estimate gallons of water saved by individuals and organizations purchasing water-efficient products instead of those that use more water. EPA will also examine the savings that result from using irrigation professionals that are certified in water-efficient installation and maintenance practices and the increase in awareness of water-efficient products and practices.
What products will be included in the WaterSense program?
Irrigation professionals and residential plumbing products are among the first categories in the program. EPA plans to research several options to expand product areas in the future, including additional indoor and outdoor home products, as well as commercial products.
How will water-efficient products and programs be labeled/recognized?
EPA developed the WaterSense label to differentiate products in the marketplace that meet EPA criteria for efficiency and performance, as well as programs that meet EPA criteria for water efficiency. The label will appear on product cartons and packaging, be adhered directly to the product, be featured on in-store displays, and be found in manufacturer literature and Web sites. EPA also maintains a registry of labeled products on the WaterSense Web site.
How can I find more information about product certification and labeling?
Products bearing the WaterSense label are certified to conform with the relevant specification by an EPA licensed certifying body. Manufacturers apply directly to the licensed certifying body for certification and to obtain the WaterSense label.
There are several key steps involved with using the WaterSense label. Please review the Product Certification and Labeling Frequent Questions or the WaterSense Product Certification and Labeling fact sheet, or visit the WaterSense product certification page for more information.
What are the WaterSense label and logos?
WaterSense has two different labels and two different logos that have specific purposes. For more information, please visit the What are the WaterSense Label and Logos? page.
How are specifications for products determined?
For each product under consideration, EPA conducts extensive market research to analyze potential specifications. EPA develops specifications with stakeholder input and prepares draft efficiency and performance criteria as an open process, soliciting input from stakeholders to ensure that the most appropriate criteria for each product category is included. Once EPA finalizes the draft specification, it is available for public comment. EPA will refine the draft specifications based on the comments and feedback, and then release them again in either draft or final form. The number of rounds of public review will depend on the product schedule, and the nature and extent of comments on the prior draft.
How does EPA ensure that products meet the criteria?
Products are independently certified by a third party to confirm that they meet EPA's criteria for efficiency and performance. Before a product receives the WaterSense label, an EPA-licensed certifying body must certify that it conforms to the relevant WaterSense product specification. Labeled products are also subject to ongoing surveillance to ensure that they continue to conform to the relevant WaterSense specification.
Effective as of April 2009, EPA has instituted its own product certification system. This system specifies the requirements for the product certification process and establishes a mechanism for EPA-approved accreditation organizations to approve and oversee WaterSense-related product certifications in accordance with international guidelines.
Why did EPA choose third-party certification instead of self-certification?
EPA chose independent certification by a third party to confirm that the product meets the WaterSense efficiency and performance criteria.
Is there an opportunity for public comments on proposed specifications?
Yes. The program will strive to use a process similar to ENERGY STAR to solicit public comments on proposed specifications. There will be an open workshop 4-6 weeks after the draft specification is released to receive comments. EPA will also receive written comments from those unable to attend to meeting.
How does EPA coordinate with local water utilities?
Local water utilities have been very supportive in the development of the program. Many utilities already have efforts in place to increase the water efficiency of residential and commercial irrigation systems. Utilities are encouraged to incorporate WaterSense into their local water-efficiency and conservation efforts.
How is WaterSense similar to ENERGY STAR®? How is WaterSense different from ENERGY STAR?
WaterSense is similar to ENERGY STAR in that both programs work toward market enhancement and public recognition through the labeling of products and programs. One of the main differences between these two programs is that WaterSense requires third-party certification of its products and services, ensuring that they comply with WaterSense's specifications. Another major difference is that WaterSense focuses on water-using products and services that don't require energy to run, solely focusing on their water-efficient properties. ENERGY STAR includes water-using products that conserve energy.
What more can I do to save water for future generations?
EPA conducts a number of activities to encourage consumers and organizations to use less water. Information on how to use water efficiently is posted on our Web site and available on our fact sheets and other publications. This new program adds the product focus to our ongoing activities.
Is water supply an issue everywhere in the United States?
There are many markets in the United States that already face water shortages, and the number of markets facing this issue is projected to grow in the future. A Government Accountability Office survey of water managers across the country showed that 36 states were anticipating local, regional, or statewide water shortages by 2013, even under non-drought conditions. Water efficiency is a much more cost-effective tool to help local markets manage water supply issues than developing new sources.
How can water efficiency help local communities?
Water supply infrastructure is a major cost for most local markets across the United States. In 2002, an EPA report identified a $224 billion gap in planned infrastructure investment as compared to needs. Water efficiency is one key way that local communities can help manage their infrastructure needs.
Which areas of the country have the largest water supply challenges?
Water use varies greatly depending on geographic location and season, largely as a result of differences in climate. For instance, water use needs tend to be higher in the West and Southwest than in the East or Midwest. However, water and wastewater infrastructure systems across the country are being challenged by population growth and aging components. Water efficiency can lessen the stress on these systems and extend their useful life. Further complicating the issue of water supply and availability is the fact that population growth is greatest in states that have more limited water resources.