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WaterSense: Meets EPA Critera WaterSense Seal An EPA Partnership Program

The WaterSense Current Spring 2010

In This Issue XIV, Spring 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:

Earth Day Turns 40; WaterSense Turning 4

Earth day

On April 22, 1970, an estimated 20 million Americans—1 of every 10 citizens—celebrated the first Earth Day, a grassroots demonstration for the environment that quickly gained political momentum, ushering in the creation of EPA and landmark legislation such as the Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water Acts.

Not only does 2010 mark the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, but in June, it also marks the fourth anniversary of the WaterSense program. To celebrate, here are four key ways you can honor both occasions by saving water at home:

  • Revisit your morning routine with water-conscious habits. Turn off the tap when you brush your teeth or shave, and scrape the breakfast dishes instead of rinsing before putting them in the dishwasher. Learn more tips.
  • Remember to change your outdoor watering schedule when the seasons change. Contact your local utility or irrigation contractor for information on appropriate watering schedules. If you have an irrigation system, avoid operating it during spring rain showers, or better yet, install a rain sensor or consider a WaterSense irrigation partner to help you find the right technology to do the thinking for you.
  • Repair easy-to-fix household water leaks. On average, a household loses more than 10,000 gallons each year to seemingly innocuous drips and leaks. Learn how to find and fix them.
  • Remodel your bathroom with a WaterSense makeover. Replacing older fixtures with a WaterSense labeled toilet, faucet, and showerhead can save your household more than 7,000 gallons and $60 in utility bills annually. In fact, labeled fixtures can pay for themselves in as few as 2.5 years. Search for products.

Learn more about the history of Earth DayExit EPA Disclaimer, EPA, and WaterSense.

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April Showers Have Arrived

Water droplets logo

Starting this spring, the WaterSense label now can be found on showerheads in home improvement stores near you. Installing a WaterSense labeled showerhead can save the average household more than 2,300 gallons of water per year and $50 in utility bills, and you won't notice a difference in shower performance. How's that for a reason to sing in the shower? Learn more about WaterSense labeled showerheads.

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Fix a Leak Week 2010 Recap

Flo the water hero helps kids learn about the importance of fixing leaks and saving water.

They came, they saw, they conquered. And the leaks didn't have a fighting chance. Participants in the second-annual WaterSense Fix a Leak Week, from March 15 to 21, used elbow grease and creativity to get out in the community and into their own bathrooms, kitchens, and yards to fix common water leaks.

Dozens of WaterSense partners and other organizations helped spread the word, hosting dozens of events, including:

  • Free repair or water audit clinics in Greeley, CO; Clarksburg, WV; and Tampa, FL.
  • Elementary school lessons on fixing leaks and saving water in Milwaukee, WI.
  • 100,000 leak detection kits mailed to residents around Puget Sound, WA.
  • Door-to-door leak detection offered by utility workers and high school students in Redding, CA.
  • Renovations of bathrooms at an Angels' Arms foster home in St. Louis County, MO; a Ronald McDonald House in Scranton, PA; and the Battleship New Jersey in Camden.

In Texas, an effort dubbed the Great Dallas Fix a Leak Week Roundup went off with a bang. Dallas Water Utilities, in partnership with EPA, ramped up an existing plumbing repair and retrofit program for qualified, low-income residential water customers, many of whom are elderly and unable to make the repairs themselves. Dallas estimates the repairs and renovations made during the roundup will save more than 2 million gallons annually.

One customer's toilet had been leaking for a decade. She watched as her water bill rose from $25 to $40 per month, consuming a larger and larger portion of her fixed income. "Isn't it nice that the water company that sells water is trying to help me lower my water bill?" she commented in an interview with ABC affiliate WFAA-TVExit EPA Disclaimer.

See more about Fix a Leak Week 2010 on the WaterSense Facebook page.

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Major Home Builder Joins WaterSense


KB Home, a Fortune 500 building company, has announced its intention to become the first national home builder to construct WaterSense labeled new homes, which save buyers more than 10,000 gallons of water per year.

KB Home already includes WaterSense labeled faucets as a standard feature in its homes, but in partnering with WaterSense, KB will include additional water-efficient products and practices inside and outside of the homes built to the WaterSense new home specification.

By living in a WaterSense labeled new home, homeowners can save enough water each year to wash up to 400 loads of laundry and enough energy by heating less water to power a television for four years. These water and energy savings can lower utility costs by more than $100 each year.

KB Home, like other builders, recognizes the benefit of building green in today's market. According to McGraw-Hill Construction's SmartMarket Report, 40 percent of builders agreed "green" makes it easier to sell homes in a down economy. By partnering with WaterSense, KB Home has positioned itself well for when the market rebounds and consumers are demanding greener homes.

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Hotels Check in to Water Savings

Hotel bell

Hotels traditionally saved water by asking guests to keep the same towels and linens for the duration of their stay. Now, more and more hotels are replacing plumbing fixtures with more water-efficient models to save millions of gallons each year.

Hotels making the switch are not only realizing water savings, but also significant time saved from making fewer repairs. The Hilton Palacio del Rio in San Antonio, Texas, for example, replaced every toilet in the 480-room hotel with WaterSense labeled models and saved 6 million gallons of water in eight months. Even better, the hotel realized a 90 percent decrease in guest complaints about plumbing problems and an 80 percent decrease in plumbing repairs.

After San Francisco's Parc 55 Union Square Hotel replaced its more than 1,000 toilets with WaterSense labeled models, Kohler Co. and Veritec Consulting conducted a study that found the hotel reduced its water use by 1 million gallons of water per month and saved $170,000 on water and sewer charges per year after the retrofit.

Hotels find "greening" of facilities as a business opportunity too. A 2008 Deloitte survey (PDF) (12 pp, 839K, About PDF)Exit EPA Disclaimerof 1,000 business travelers found that guests not only are willing to pay for greener lodging, but they expect these environmentally friendly measures from hotels. Forty percent of those surveyed said they would pay more for hotels with green amenities, and 95 percent said they think the industry needs to become more sustainable.

In addition to WaterSense labeled toilets, hotels can complete the suite by retrofitting with WaterSense labeled bathroom faucets and showerheads. Another branch of Hilton—the new "Homes2Suites" design—is also including WaterSense labeled plumbing fixtures to increase sustainability measures for the extended stay hotel.

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Partner Profile: Lowe's

Lowe's logo

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

Lowe's is making it easier for you—and 15 million other weekly customers—to find WaterSense labeled products online and on the shelves of its more than 1,700 home improvement stores. The chain has one of the largest selections of in‑stock WaterSense labeled products nationwide.

Considering that last October EPA named Lowe's as the 2009 WaterSense Retail Partner of the Year, perhaps this should come as no surprise.

"We value transparency for our customers," said Mary Henderson, environmental marketing manager for Lowe's. "There are so many messages in the marketplace right now regarding products that save water or are 'environmentally friendly' that it can be difficult to know what to trust and where to start. By partnering with WaterSense, we can deliver a transparent message from a trusted third-party authority."

Lowe's had been involved with ENERGY STAR® and encouraged shoppers to buy energy-efficient products for nearly a decade before the company decided to take the plunge into water efficiency. After becoming a WaterSense partner in 2008, Lowe's shifted its marketing strategy from focusing on energy efficiency to the broader "efficient home," emphasizing the connection between saving water and saving energy. As a result, you can explore the Lowe's Efficient HomeExit EPA DisclaimerWeb site for ideas on home improvement projects that save both resources.

As the weather warms up this spring and summer, keep your eyes open for events and promotions about water efficiency at your local Lowe's.

"To receive an award for something that is near and dear to the hearts of our company was really a way of encouraging us and getting us excited to do more," Henderson said of the WaterSense Partner of the Year award. "We have a lot upcoming projects and initiatives we want to go after in 2010 and 2011." 

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Don't Just Say Efficiency, Spray Efficiently


Researching Water Efficiency in Commercial Kitchens

Unless you paid your dues doing dishes in a school cafeteria or back of a restaurant, you may never have heard of a pre-rinse spray valve. Dishwashers use these handheld spray devices to remove food from dishes and utensils before they enter the commercial dishwashing machine. Pre-rinse spray valves use nearly half of the total amount of water used in commercial dish washing.

WaterSense is rolling up its sleeves to conduct a study that could result in a joint specification with ENERGY STAR to help commercial kitchens reduce water and energy used in dish washing, one of their most water-intensive tasks. The study is testing certain pre-rinse spray valves for their water and energy savings potential, as well as performance.

The current federal standard for the flow rate of pre-rinse spray valves is 1.6 gallons per minute, but half of the estimated 1.35 million sprayers in the commercial industry are older, inefficient models. In facilities with these older models, replacing the existing pre-rinse spray valve with a high-efficiency one could save more than 25,000 gallons of water, 4,500 kilowatt hours of electricity, and about $600 per year.

Eight institutions with commercial kitchens are participating in the 12-week study, in which EPA is evaluating the existing pre-rinse spray valve compared to three water-efficient models. WaterSense wants to ensure that a high-efficiency pre-rinse spray valve doesn't require more time to clean dishes, thus negating the intended water savings.

"I was interested in participating in this EPA study because I try to be socially responsible in how I run my business," said Jim Solomon, owner of The Fireplace restaurant. "As the first green certified restaurant in Boston, I try to help further research of green products and practices when I can."

If the study proves successful, EPA will develop efficiency and performance criteria for pre-rinse spray valves to be independently tested and certified to earn the WaterSense label. In the future, helping restaurant owners and kitchen managers to save water, energy, and money on utility bills could be as easy as looking for the labels: WaterSense and ENERGY STAR.

Learn more about EPA's pre-rinse spray valve study.


  • Boston College (Chestnut Hill, MA)
  • Harvard University (Cambridge, MA)
  • Buckingham Browne & Nichols School (Cambridge, MA)
  • The Fireplace Restaurant (Brookline, MA)
  • Mario's Italian Grill (Lexington, MA)
  • Jimmy's Steer House Restaurant (Arlington, MA)
  • Founding Farmers Restaurant (Washington, DC)
  • Farmers & Fishers Restaurant (Washington, DC)

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Join the Wave

Become a fan of WaterSense on Facebook!Exit EPA DisclaimerOn the WaterSense Facebook page you will find:

  • Water-saving facts
  • Photo galleries
  • Video clips
  • Event updates

Check it out!

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