A Year Ago on Zero Resource – September 2010

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Peter Gleick on Cash for Water Clunkers

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In his latest post in the San Francisco Chronicle’s City Brights blog, Dr. Peter Gleick (president of the Pacific Institute) calls for a “Cash for Water Clunkers program:

The US should commit $5 billion in a “Cash for Water Clunkers” program to help individuals and businesses get rid of old water-wasting appliances and processes…

These funds would help homeowners and businesses who choose to replace old water-wasting appliances and equipment, which can then be recycled. Funding could be prioritized to water-efficient appliances produced in the U.S., thereby providing a special boost to U.S. manufacturers.

The program should also be accompanied by a jobs-training program for plumbers and contractors in low-income communities, along the lines of the now-legendary partnership between the Madres del Este de Los Angeles Santa Isabel (Mothers of East Los Angeles Santa Isabel – MELASI) and several local water utilities more than a decade ago. That program helped the City of Los Angeles replace over 2 million old inefficient toilets (though many millions more remain, locally and nationally). The funds for such programs could be managed by local community groups, in conjunction with local water utilities.

Read his entire post on the San Francisco Chronicle website here.

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Assorted Links

San Francisco parks waste thousands of gallons of drinkable water each day through cracked pipes and aged irrigation systems.

California’s Green Building Standards Code – known as CalGreen – will become mandatory on January 1, 2011.

A new study reports that most heat pumps in the UK are not performing as intended.

A competition focusing on the Water-Energy Nexus is looking for start-ups that save energy in moving, treating and using water and wastewater.

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The Next Million Acre Feet of Water

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Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

The Pacific Institute has released a report on how to find the next million acre feet of water in California.  As with energy in California, which now has the “loading order”, the conclusion is that conservation and efficiency efforts can achieve water savings for less cost than building new or expanding existing supplies.

An overview of some of the water-efficient practices discussed in the report:

Water savings are available through a wide variety of water-efficient practices in the urban and agricultural sectors. In the urban sector this includes replacing old, inefficient devices with high-efficiency models, as well as lawn conversion, residential metering, and rate structures that better communicate the value of water. In the agricultural sector, best water management practices include weather-based irrigation scheduling, regulated deficit irrigation, and switching from gravity or flood irrigation to sprinkler or drip irrigation systems. Here, we focus on well documented, cost-effective approaches that are already being used in California. We emphasize efficiency improvements rather than behavioral changes because the latter are less easily quantified. Nonetheless, experience in Australia, Colorado, and California in recent years shows that changing water use behavior can also provide very fast and inexpensive savings in emergencies, with long-term benefits.

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A  full copy of the report can be found here.

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Why is DOE Regulating Showerheads?

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Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Why does the Department of Energy care what kind of showerhead you have? Well, unless you shower exclusively in cold water, the more water you use, the more energy is needed to heat that water.

The Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 (EPCA) states that a showerhead manufactured after January 1, 1994, can deliver no more than 2.5 gallons per minute at a flowing water pressure of 80 pounds per square inch. However, the term “showerhead” was interpreted by manufacturers to be a device sending water over a bather. Each device was considered to count separately and  separately needed to meet the standard.

The draft interpretive rule published by the DOE clarifies that “a showerhead is any plumbing fitting that is designed to direct water onto a bather regardless of the shape, size, placement, or number of sprays or openings that it may have.”  All nozzles would need to jointly meet the 2.5 gallon per minute standard. This primarily will affect high-end showerheads that deliver much more than 2.5 gallons per minute.

The entire draft interpretive rule can be found on the DOE website here.

At this point, the DOE is planning enforcement actions only against the manufacturers of the offending showerheads. Some of the products that manufacturers have stopped selling as a result of letters from DOE include the “Shower Rose” from Grupo Helvex, which delivered 12 gallons a minute. The Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors – National Association (PHCC-NA) is up in arms over the new interpretation of the definition and is trying to spin the new definition as having a negative impact on water conservation (though no reason is given in this article).

An article at BuildingGreen.com goes into more detail about reactions from plumbing manufacturers, the water conservation community, and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

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For readers in the East Bay, East Bay Municipal Utility District offers self-survey kits to help check flow rates and find leaks and free low-flow showerheads (2.0 gallons per minute).

Readers in San Francisco can schedule a free water use evaluation and free low-flow showerheads through the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

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