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The WaterSense Current Fall 2010

In This Issue XVI, Fall 2010:

WaterSense, a partnership program sponsored by EPA, seeks to protect the future of our nation's water supply by offering people a simple way to use less water.The WaterSense Current is a quarterly update dedicated to news and events relatedto WaterSense.  

In This Issue:

2010 WaterSense Partners of the Year Soar to New Heights

Supper hero

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, and sometimes from the most unexpected places. WaterSense strives to recognize the heroes whose everyday dedication to water efficiency is saving water for future generations.

With more than 2,000 WaterSense partners across the country, narrowing down the field to four winners was a difficult task, but EPA is pleased to recognize the following:

  • Manufacturer Partner of the Year: Moen Incorporated. Every single bathroom faucet model produced by this global plumbing manufacturer has received the WaterSense label–all 267 of them–allowing consumers to find labeled faucets in a range of price points. Moen shared the importance of water efficiency on a jam-packed media tour, including on the nationally syndicated radio show The Money Pit.
  • Retailer Partner of the Year: Lowe's Company's, Inc. Winning this award for the second year in a row, Lowe's continues to be a leader in water efficiency among home improvement retailers. Last year, the company launched a "Build Your Savings" program to help customers select products that save energy, water, and money in its 1,700 stores nationwide.
  • Promotional Partner of the Year: Cascade Water Alliance. This wholesale water provider in King County, Washington, collaborated with dozens of retailers and plumbers to promote water efficiency in the Puget Sound region and rebate more than 3,000 WaterSense labeled toilets for households and local businesses.
  • Irrigation Partner of the Year: Judy Benson. As president of Clearwater Products and Services, Inc., a central Florida-based irrigation consulting company, Ms. Benson educated businesses and consumers on outdoor water efficiency and encouraged other irrigation professionals to partner with WaterSense.

Learn more about this year's four overall WaterSense Partners of the Year, announced at the WaterSmart Innovations Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, on October 6, as well as several other outstanding WaterSense partners who received Excellence Awards in a specific category.

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Save a Few Gallons, Save a Buck

Water costs are rising across much of the United States—more than 10 percent in two years, according to the American Water Works Association's (AWWA's) 2008 Water and Wastewater Rate Survey. So boosting your home's water efficiency is an increasingly smart financial decision.

Why are costs on the rise now? As you know, water and wastewater are typically some of the least expensive utility bills, and generally speaking this phenomenon hasn't changed. But water infrastructure throughout the country is aging and will soon be in need of attention. As AWWA explains on its DrinkTap.org website:Exit EPA Disclaimer

  • The oldest cast iron pipes laid in the late 1800s usually last 120 years.
  • Pipes laid in the 1920s must be replaced after 100 years.
  • Pipes from the post-World War II boom wear out after 75 years.

Estimates for repairing and replacing this infrastructure in the coming years range from $280 billion to nearly $500 billion, and eventually those capital expenses could trickle down to ratepayers. (Learn more about the true cost of water and rate structures from a previous WaterSense Current issue.)

So what can you do to trim your water bill today and in the future?

Some online sleuthing is a great start. A recent study found that only 9 percent of customers participate in utility rebate programs, but 60 percent said they would participate if they knew about them. EPA makes your detective work easy with the WaterSense Rebate Finder, which lists rebates offered for WaterSense labeled fixtures that help you conserve water without sacrificing performance.

The Rebate Finder isn't exhaustive, however, so if you don't see your utility listed, visit the company's website to confirm whether it offers any incentives for upgrading to more efficient products.

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Flo Is on the Go With We're for Water

Collage 4

This summer Flo, the WaterSense "spokesgallon," crisscrossed the country as part of the We're for Water campaign to raise awareness about simple ways to save water at home. From coast to cost, she stopped at tourist attractions and water-efficiency events to promote three important steps:

  1. Check for silent leaks that may be wasting water.
  2. Twist on a faucet aerator to save at the sink without a noticeable difference in flow.
  3. Replace your old, inefficient showerhead with a WaterSense labeled model and still shower with power.

She and the WaterSense team handed out 500 WaterSense labeled faucet aerators during the road trip; if everyone who received an aerator installs it, more than 140,000 gallons of water could be saved annually. Media coverage helped spread the We're for Water message even wider to more than 25 million readers and viewers.

Which We're for Water stop was your favorite?

For more photos and videos from this summer's We're for Water road trip, visit the WaterSense Facebook page.Exit EPA Disclaimer

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Partner Profile: Cascade Water Alliance

The WaterSense Current periodically profiles outstanding WaterSense partners and their achievements in advancing water efficiency and water-efficient products and practices.

Cascade Water Alliance, a wholesale water provider serving 400,000 residents and 22,000 businesses in King County, Washington, focuses on innovative ways to educate its customers about water efficiency. With only one full-time staff member overseeing water conservation, Cascade has developed a reputation for having a wide reach on a lean budget and was just named the 2010 WaterSense Promotional Partner of the Year.

Surprisingly, the Puget Sound region isn't as rainy as you might think: in the past two decades, the region has weathered a half dozen droughts and outdoor water use advisories or restrictions.

"We're using the resource carefully so we avoid the prospect of running out of water or prematurely developing an expensive new source," said Michael Brent, Cascade's Water Resources Manager. "By promoting water efficiency, we'll ensure a reliable supply and push out the time when we need to develop new supplies."

Besides giving away free showerheads and WaterSense promotional items, Cascade also ran a WaterSense labeled toilet rebate program for its eight member utilities. In 2009, Cascade processed 2,154 rebates for single-family residences that upgraded to WaterSense labeled toilets. Cascade closes the loop by offering free recycling of old toilets.

Cascade has partnered with nearly 100 plumbers and retailers, including The Home Depot, Lowe's, Costco, McLendon Hardware, and Ace Hardware to help educate sales staff. Cascade visited each retailer several times during the year to train sales staff about WaterSense, provide promotional materials, and catch up on trends.

Cascade is always on the lookout for new ways to help its customers conserve water. Recently, it launched a new program to install free rain sensors on residential and commercial irrigation systems. Earlier this year, Cascade developed a Web page where customers can order items such as high-efficiency showerheads, aerators, shower timers, and rain gauges at no charge beyond postage. And this summer, Cascade produced a video to teach homeowners how to manage their irrigation systems that is available on DVD free to customers, with future plans to add a series of "webisodes" and workshops that empower customers to fix leaks, install drip irrigation, and more.

"I think we're on the verge of a major paradigm shift. Customers are making the connection between their actions and broader issues like never before—water, energy, climate change, sustainability—it's all coming together," Brent said.

Learn more about Cascade Water Alliance.Exit EPA Disclaimer

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Filling the sink with a few gallons of wash water and rinsing dishes at the end saves 10 gallons compared to running the tap continuously. If every U.S. household reduced water use by 10 gallons on Thanksgiving, it would save more than 1 billion gallons of water--enough for 1 million households with dishwashers to wash their dishes for a year.

Water-Wise Landscaping Tips for Fall

With autumn in the air, consider taking the following steps in your yard and garden to prepare for a more water-efficient winter, spring, and summer:

  • Compost. Soil that is enhanced with compost holds moisture better and reduces runoff, which can help you save on irrigation next summer. Add a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost to the top of the soil and dig it into the top 6 to 12 inches of the planting bed. Or simply layer it on top of the bed, a technique called "topdressing," and let the earthworms do the heavy lifting for you.
  • Mulch. Mulches such as shredded bark spread evenly over the surface of the soil reduce the amount of moisture that soil loses through evaporation and plant transpiration. Mulching also helps keep down the weeds. Spread a 2- to 4-inch layer on all open soil, but keep mulch away from the trunk or stem of plants.
  • Adjust. Remember to readjust your irrigation system schedule to reflect the changing seasons and precipitation, or turn it off when it is no longer needed.
  • Winterize. Having your pipes freeze and burst not only wastes water, but it can cause a lot of damage. Before the first frost, remember to unscrew hoses, drain outdoor spigots, and either turn off their water supply or use an insulating cover to protect them from freezing.
  • Consider your plant palette during the cold winter months. When you start planning your garden for spring, try to incorporate locally adapted or native plants that are already accustomed to the soil and weather patterns in your area.

    For more ideas on environmentally friendly landscaping, see EPA's GreenScapes page or the WaterSense outdoor page.

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