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The WaterSense Current: Fall 2020

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Issue LV

In This Issue:


Award-Winning Partners Make Water Savings Possible

Kids at a WaterSense event.Saving water is a team effort, and WaterSense has an all-star squad of more than 2,000 partners who promote water efficiency. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently presented partners with 29 awards for their leadership in helping consumers and businesses save more than an estimated 4 trillion gallons of water since the program started.

Eight MVPs in particular were honored as 2020 Partners of the Year: Promotional Partners of the Year include Big Bear Lake (California) Department of Water and Power; Irvine Ranch (California) Water District; City of Sacramento (California) Department of Utilities; Upper San Gabriel Valley (California) Municipal Water District; Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District; and Orange County (Florida) Utilities. The Professional Certifiying Organization Partner of the Year is the City of Aspen (Colorado), and the Builder Partner of the Year is Fulton Homes.

Eight partners were honored with a Sustained Excellence Award for their continued support of the WaterSense program year after year.

Athens-Clarke County (Georgia) Public Utilities Department earned their fourth Sustained Excellence Award through its many creative efforts to spread the word about water efficiency in their community. They created a “Look for WaterSense” themed gingerbread house for a local competition and gave away fortune cookies at their office with WaterSense-related fortunes.

Citrus County (Florida) Utilities earned its second Sustained Excellence Award for its numerous festival appearances and workshops where it engaged customers on how to save water indoors and outdoors. More than 300 customers took advantage of a free home audit from the “Schedule a Specialist” customer service assistance program.

The City of Charlottesville (Virginia) was presented its third Sustained Excellence Award for its numerous community engagement activities and efforts with the Charlottesville Energy and Water Management Team and city schools to spread the word about operational and behavioral practices that will advance water efficiency in public buildings and schools.

The City of Plano (Texas) earned its first Sustained Excellence Award for a range of efforts to engage consumers on how to save water indoors and outdoors. Plano’s new mascot “Owlbert” joined WaterSense spokesgallon “Flo” in providing online and social media water-saving tips, and the City’s first Sprinkler Fair provided attendees with hands-on irrigation education. The City also collaborated with The Home Depot and Lowe’s Home Improvement to save customers more than $80,000 in rebates on certain WaterSense labeled products.

Metropolitan North Georgia (Georgia) Water Planning District was presented its third Sustained Excellence Award. In addition to its annual Water Drop Dash and participation in other WaterSense campaigns, the District launched a new pilot program with its partner utilities to offer qualifying commercial properties free assessments to find potential areas for water savings.

Kohler Co. (Wisconsin) received its sixth Sustained Excellence Award. In its role as a Gold Sponsor of Habitat for Humanity’s Building Blitz, the company donated more than 750 WaterSense labeled fixtures for the 152 new homes, 61 repairs, and 16 rehabs. Kohler also developed three new rain style showerheads that can meet WaterSense efficiency and performance requirements. 

Sonoma-Marin (California) Saving Water Partnership (SMSWP) was presented its fourth Sustained Excellence Award. This professional certifying organization makes its Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper (QWEL) program available to other organizations so they can certify local irrigation professionals. In 2019, SMSWP and its 19 adopting programs certified close to 650 professionals, the highest to date, and completed a Spanish language QWEL program to further extend its reach.

KB Home (California) received its sixth Sustained Excellence Award for building 147 homes that earned the WaterSense label in 2019. KB Home also installed WaterSense labeled fixtures in other homes it built in 2019. The company estimates annual savings of more than 1.5 billion gallons of water from the more than 700,000 fixtures it has installed in both labeled and non-labeled homes.

Finally, thirteen WaterSense partners received Excellence Awards to recognize their achievements in specific Awards criteria:

  • The City of Allen (Texas), Hilton Head (South Carolina) Public Service District, and Placer County (California) Water Agency were honored for Excellence in Education and Outreach.
  • City of Durham (North Carolina) Water Management and Cobb County (Georgia) Water System received awards for Excellence in Outreach and Promoting Labeled Products.
  • The Toro Company won for Excellence in Outreach and Training.
  • City of Flagstaff (Arizona) Water Conservation Program, Municipal Water District of Orange County (California), Sonoma-Marin (California) Saving Water Partnership, and SUEZ North America were honored for Excellence in Promoting Labeled Products.
  • Santa Clarita Valley (California) Water Agency was recognized for Excellence in Multifamily Outreach and Water Score Improvement.
  • G3, Green Gardens Group of Los Angeles was recognized for Excellence in Certification Program Growth.
  • Energy Inspectors Corporation was honored for Excellence in Builder Support.

Learn more about all of the 2020 WaterSense Award winners.

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Saving Water at Home

Illustration of turning off the faucet.This year, more Americans have spent time working and schooling at home. There are many ways to save water at home. For example, while brushing your teeth or washing your hands, don’t keep the tap running. By turning the faucet off while you aren’t using it, you could save as much as 200 gallons of water a month.

Encourage kids to skip the bath and take a shower instead. A quick shower uses less water than taking a bath. Curb your outdoor water use, too! Play “leak detective” with your kids—finding and fixing drips in your home—or chase down leaks yourself. Place a few drops of food coloring into the tank at the back of your toilet and wait a few minutes. If the color shows up in the toilet bowl, you have a leak! Most commonly, toilet leaks are caused by a worn flapper. Toilet flappers are inexpensive and simple to replace. Check out this video for a simple “bath hack” to replace a flapperExit.

Wait for a full load of laundry before running the washing machine. Same goes for the dishwasher: let it do the work for your—running a full dishwasher uses less water than washing by hand. To save even more water, try scraping leftover food into the trash rather than rinsing before loading dishes into the dishwasher.

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Take the Guesswork Out of Watering

As the season changes and temperatures begin to drop, fall is a good time to take control of your irrigation system. With cooler weather, lawns and landscapes require less water to stay healthy and green. Overwatering can lead to the deterioration of the health of your landscape and unnecessarily increase your water bill. Decreasing outdoor water waste with a WaterSense labeled irrigation controller also reduces the amount of water running off landscapes and potentially carrying pollutants into local waterways.

Person adjusting an irrigation controller.Image courtesy of Rain Bird Corporation.WaterSense labeled weather-based irrigation controllers (WBICs) are designed to help ensure your system is running the right amount at the right time. Like a thermostat for your lawn, these smart devices use local weather data and landscape conditions to adapt irrigation schedules, only watering plants when they need it. These controllers can also customize irrigation times by plant zones that may have different watering needs—saving you even more time and water. Some WaterSense labeled controllers are app-based, meaning you can control your irrigation system from the convenience of your smart phone. To promote the water savings of WaterSense labeled WBICs, many utilities offer incentives for installing these products—check to see if your local utility offers rebates.

WBICs are a great tool to reduce water waste outdoors, but to completely maximize the efficiency of your irrigation system, other considerations should be made. Swapping out old or broken spray sprinkler bodies with WaterSense labeled models ensures your system is operating at the correct pressure, reducing misting, fogging, and uneven coverage. For flower beds, consider utilizing microirrigation, which slowly delivers water to the root zone of plants, preventing runoff and evaporation. Finally, when designing your landscape, try choosing native plants that are adapted to the local climate and require less supplemental watering.

Learn more about how WaterSense labeled irrigation controllers (4 pp, 1 MB, About PDFwork and find more outdoor water-saving tips.                                          

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Fulton Brings Home Its First WaterSense Builder Award

It’s not beginner’s luck that Fulton Homes Exitreceived its first WaterSense Partner of the Year Award, but rather an impressive commitment to constructing and promoting WaterSense labeled homes. Fulton installed WaterSense labeled products in almost 900 homes in 2019—30 of which completed the additional water-saving and performance requirements to earn the WaterSense label. To promote labeled homes to prospective buyers, Fulton Homes features WaterSense on its website and on display screens in its sales office. Interested customers who visited Fulton Homes’ models receive informational fliers and WaterSense stickers.

Fulton Homes WaterSense flag.At each Fulton Homes community that features labeled homes, a large banner promotes WaterSense to everyone who drives by. To further catch the eye of potential buyers and promote WaterSense, Fulton Homes sent promotional emails to 95,000 residents and 36,000 real estate agents. The builder also frequently posts information about its WaterSense labeled homes to Facebook. And to keep homebuyers informed about water savings, all sales and design staff underwent training on the features and benefits of WaterSense labeled homes.

Fulton Homes is working on housing developments where all homes are WaterSense labeled, ENERGY STAR certified, and Indoor AirPLUS certified—which will be some of the first communities in the country to have all three certifications.

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California Partner Promotes Water Savings

Big Bear Lake (California) Department of Water and Power Exit(BBLDWP) received its first WaterSense Partner of the Year Award after implementing strong outreach and education programs to promote water conservation. Its 2019 Earth Day event included demonstrations and hands-on activities with kids, using real tools to fix leaks. Participants earned stamps in a passport activity by visiting each educational booth. Once they visited all the booths, students received a free reusable cup.

BBLDWP’s Xeriscape Garden Tour BBLDWP’s Xeriscape Garden Tour provided native plant seeds and WaterSense landscaping materials to everyone who took the tour. The tour promoted the theme “Laying the Groundwork for Savings” and included seven water-efficient yards in the Big Bear Valley and the BBLDWP’s demonstration garden, which had a native plant expert on hand to answers gardeners’ questions and provide information about the utility’s free rain barrel program.

In addition to outdoor outreach, the utility also facilitated further use of WaterSense labeled plumbing products. BBLDWP provided incentives for 47 toilets and gave 16 showerheads, 75 bathroom faucet aerators, and 13 kitchen aerators to its commercial customers. For residential customers, BBLDWP distributed 153 WaterSense labeled showerheads, 335 bathroom faucet aerators, and 63 kitchen aerators during free indoor water audits.

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