WaterSense Celebrates 10-Year Mark

Over the past decade, EPA’s WaterSense program has sparked a market transformation all across North America for irrigation products that save water, energy, and money.

The program was recently threatened by Trump administration budget cuts. (See related article, “AWE Fears WaterSense May Lose Funding.”) But that threat is on hold for now. (See box below.)

Let’s take a look at some of the program’s accomplishments in the last 10 years…

Label and Certification Milestones

Since 2007, more than 21,000 product models of plumbing fixtures and irrigation controllers have earned the WaterSense label for efficiency and performance.  More than 5,000 new models earned the label in 2016 alone. Nearly 68 million individual labeled products have been shipped to date. 

Beginning in 2006, WaterSense certification programs have focused on water-efficient techniques and technologies for certified irrigation system designers, auditors, and installation and maintenance professionals. Since then, thousands of irrigation specialists have been certified and gained an edge in the competitive marketplace.

The Three “P’s” — Products, Practices, People

In an effort to reduce the waste of outdoor water, the EPA program has promoted the three “P’s”— products, practices, and people. This includes:

  • Designing water-smart landscapes that are well-suited for the local climate
  • Installing WaterSense-labeled irrigation controllers, and
  • Hiring WaterSense-certified irrigation professionals.

Their efforts have paid off. For instance, in 2016, the number of labeled irrigation controllers increased by an impressive 63% over the previous year.  These new, web-based models allow users to adjust their irrigation systems via an app on their smartphone.

What’s Next?

In 2017, the WaterSense program is focused on product labeling for pressure-regulating sprinkler bodies. The idea is that large amounts of water can be wasted whenever spray sprinklers operate under higher-than-normal pressure. In other words, significant water savings can be realized by regulating this pressure. To this end, the program recently released a draft specification for these new pressure-regulating sprinklers.

Let’s Keep It Going

The AWE is working to ensure that the WaterSense program can continue unabated. But they need help. Which is why they are seeking signers of letters supporting their proposed legislation to keep it going. To join in this effort, click here.

Environmental Protection Agency

Alliance for Water Efficiency

Interior Appropriations Subcommittee

AWE Fears WaterSense May Lose Funding

The Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE) believes that the EPA’s WaterSense labeling program is in grave danger of losing its funding as part of Trump administration EPA budget cuts.

Which is why the AWE recently delivered a letter to EPA Administrator Pruitt to urge continued funding for the labeling program. WaterSense labeling has been proposed for elimination in the White House budget, along with the EPA’s Energy Star program.

The AWE’s letter outlines the numerous benefits of WaterSense. And it represents the support of 187 manufacturers, businesses, water providers, and other organizations.

EPA Administrator Holds Key to Funding

The 10-year-old WaterSense program was designed to help consumers save water by labeling products that use at least 20% less water, while performing as well as or better than standard models.

But the program has never been congressionally authorized and has been funded at the discretion of the EPA Administrator.

“The WaterSense program is a cornerstone of our nation’s water sustainability strategy, and has become vital to American communities, manufacturers, and service providers.”  That’s according to Mary Ann Dickinson, AWE President and CEO.

“Defunding the program will be harmful to US businesses and families.”   Mary Ann Dickinson, AWE President and CEO

She believes the Trump administration’s budget “undervalues the contribution water efficiency makes to economic growth and the benefits of efficiency for US-based manufacturing.” According to Dickinson, “Defunding the program will be harmful to US businesses and families.”

The AWE letter calls on Administrator Pruitt and Congress to maintain the $2 million budget for WaterSense, stating in part that WaterSense is “a voluntary public-private partnership that has saved American consumers more than $33 billion (in 2015 dollars) on their water and energy bills over the past decade.”

The letter goes on to state that “WaterSense has already saved more than 1.5 trillion gallons of water. That’s more than the amount of water used by all of the households in California for a year!”

Click Here to view the complete letter.

Corporate Support

The letter was supported by leading American companies and organizations such as the Irrigation Association, Hunter Industries, Rain Bird Corp, Kohler Company, and more than 183 other organizations, including water providers from around the country.

According to the AWE, the WaterSense program has more than 1,700 partner organizations that rely on the program to support their businesses or water efficiency strategies. The WaterSense standards are also the basis for legislation in four states and other local plumbing codes that reference it. In addition, the program helps consumers manage their water costs and can help American families reduce their water bills by up to $350 per year. 

Others agree that defunding the program is a bad idea. Such as Pete DeMarco, AWE Board Chair and Executive Vice President of Advocacy & Research at the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials. “Eliminating WaterSense would destabilize the marketplace for manufacturers… and irrigation professionals that market their WaterSense certification.” 

As a result, the AWE is working closely with the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials, Plumbing Manufacturers International, American Water Works Association, and the High-Performance Buildings Coalition to preserve the labeling program. They invite all organizations with a stake in water resources to join them in the effort.

Want to Get Involved? Here’s How…

The Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE) is accepting new members.

The AWE is the only non-profit organization dedicated solely to the sustainable and efficient use of water in North America.

The Alliance is carving a path to a water-efficient and water-secure world, and they invite you to join this group of leading thinkers, decision-makers and pioneers.

To Join the AWE or to Learn More…
Click Here


Alliance for Water Efficiency


It’s National Fix a Leak Week!

Did you know….

Each year, household leaks can waste more than 1 trillion gallons of water nationwide? That amount is:

  • Nine percent of the total water needed to end California’s five-year drought
  • Enough to fill 40 million swimming pools and 24 billion bathtubs
  • Almost equal to the capacity of Florida’s vast Lake Okeechobee
  • Equal to the annual household water use of more than 11 million homes

Plug Those Leaks!

The EPA’s “Fix a Leak Week” is a national effort to stop that waste. This year’s event runs from March 20 through March 26.

Much of the problem stems from leaky kitchen and bathroom faucets, malfunctioning toilets and errant sprinkler systems. Fixing some of these easily corrected household water leaks can save homeowners about 10 percent on their water bills, according to the EPA.

Karen Wirth is in charge of marketing and outreach for the EPA’s WaterSense program. In her view, most folks are clueless about the total amount of water wasted because they “see a couple of drips coming out of their shower head, or sprinkler outside, or faucet, it doesn’t seem like that much.” 

So each year, the EPA hones in on the drips during Fix a Leak Week. Special events are planned from coast to coast to teach homeowners how to find and fix household leaks. To download the EPA’s Fix a Leak fact sheet click, click here.

Easy Fixes

There’s a simple way to check for leaks in the toilet, Wirth said. “Just put a few drops of food coloring in the tank. If that shows up in the bowl, you have a leak.” This problem can often be fixed by simply replacing the flapper.

Replacing old and worn faucet washers and gaskets fixes most faucet leaks. For leaky shower heads, use pipe tape to secure the connection between the showerhead and the pipe stem.

For the EPA’s complete list of leak fixes, click here.

Leave It to the Pros

Irrigation systems can be another problem area. But this one best left to the professionals.

“An irrigation system that has a leak 1/32nd of an inch in diameter (about the thickness of a dime) can waste about 6,300 gallons of water per month,” according to the EPA.

They suggest that homeowners consult an irrigation professional certified by WaterSense to check for leaks throughout the system.



The Washington Post

Alliance for Water Efficiency

WaterSense® Program Accomplishments

U.S. EPA WaterSense® Program Accomplishments

Since the program’s inception in 2006, WaterSense has grown dramatically. Here are some of their most significant accomplishments:

  • The program has more than 1,613 organizational partners.
  • The program has helped consumers save a cumulative1 trillion gallons of water, resulting in saving over $21.7 billion in water and energy bills.
  • Through the use of labeled products, by the end of 2014 reductions of 146 billion kWh of electricity and 54 million metric tons of carbon dioxide were achieved.
  • The  labeled products program has proven to be overwhelmingly successful. Originally there were twenty-two labeled products. Today, the label is found on more than 1,600 models of showerheads, 1,900 models of tank-type toilets, 6,800 models of faucet or faucet accessory models, and 150 models of weather–based irrigation controllers.

Water Savings

  • Labeled products that are 20 percent more water-efficient and perform as well as or better than standard models.
  • Labeled faucets—or aerators that can be installed on existing bathroom faucets—are about 30 percent more efficient than standard faucets while still providing sufficient flow.
  • Labeled toilets use 20 percent less water per flush but perform as well as or better than today’s standard toilets and older toilets that use much more water.

Key Milestones

  • The launch of the Single-Family New Home Specification, and the first labeled homes entered the market in December of 2009. As of the end of 2014, the total number of  labeled homes across the country is at 449.
  • Celebrated their eight annual Partner of the Year awards in October 2015.
Lisa Jackson

Lisa Jackson

“The WaterSense® program is a great way of empowering consumers to make a difference for our environment. WaterSense continues to raise awareness about the value of smart water use and, by growing our green economy, is moving the marketplace to preserve one of our most precious resources.”

– Lisa P. Jackson, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator

2014 WaterSense Accomplishments



Program Accomplishment Sources:



EPA WaterSense® – Friend or Foe

WaterSense® – Is it Working?

As reported by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), “America’s consumption of the public water supply continues to increase.” Our use of water can be improved, and in many cases, at little or no cost. Water efficiency can be effectively achieved through education and the implementation of conservation strategies such as the use of non-potable water in the landscape.

The Need for the WaterSense Program

EPA WaterSens LogoCommercial and residential outdoor water use in the United States accounts for more than 7 billion gallons of water each day, mainly for landscape irrigation. As much as half of that is lost or wasted due to evaporation, wind, or improper irrigation design, installation, and lack of consistent maintenance.[1]

From all of the controversy centering on landscapes being a waste of water and natural resources, the EPA developed the WaterSense program to foster water conservation and the efficient use of water both indoors and out.

The program is designed to help protect the future of our nation’s water supply by promoting water efficiency and enhancing the market for water-efficient products, programs, and practices.[2]

Jeff Carowitz, an long-time industry veteran, is hopeful that the EPA’s WaterSense Program will enjoy the same success as the ENERGY STAR® Program

User Feedback on the WaterSense Program

The EPA’s WaterSense program has the potential to have a profound effect on the landscape irrigation industry.

 John Newlin, Quality Sprinkler Services, Likes the Program

John Newlin, owner of Quality Services, an irrigation contractor in Cleveland, Ohio shared his thoughts:

John Newlin, Secretary, Ohio Irrigation Association

“I like the program. The EPA has been very professional with their marketing materials. This helps me promote my business. The information and marketing materials provided by the WaterSense program are excellent. The best part is that it does not cost me anything.”

Newlin says the EPA is doing an excellent job of developing consumer awareness toward water conservation. WaterSense is helping to modify behavior without resorting to restrictive legislation.

“I am not sure I liked it when the EPA opened the door for irrigation certification to companies like Rain Bird and other associations. I think the Irrigation Association should be certifying irrigation contractors, but I like the certification requirement.”

Overall, Newlin likes the EPA’s WaterSense program. Newlin says, “By continuing to raise the standards for performance in the landscape irrigation industry, it will make the industry stronger.”


Kurt Thompson, Training & Technical Director – Irrigation for Massey Services in Florida sees both positive and negative effects of the EPA WaterSense program.

Kurt Thompson“I like the product labeling program and the professional certification program. The WaterSense program can provide good pull-through for manufacturers’ products. The certification standard helps to raise the level of professionalism in the landscape irrigation industry.”

Thompson dislikes the ‘one-size-fits all’ component of the WaterSense home program. “The data provided by the EPA does not allow for the differences in climate across the country,” says Thompson, “Because the data is based upon a fixed climatic condition, it cannot be an effective tool where those conditions are not typical. On the West coast it will do a great job. However, on the East coast it will not work as effectively.”

“I would like to see some provisions for irrigation system maintenance,” continues Thompson. “I see too many irrigation systems that have not been looked at since installation. The state of disrepair in these systems is disheartening. It is so easy to save water with a little bit of attention.”

Overall, Thompson says, “The beauty of EPA’s WaterSense program is that it is encouraging more people to be properly trained in correct irrigation practices.”

Brain Vinchesi, Owner of Irrigation Consulting, is a Proponent

Brian Vinchesi, consultant and owner of Irrigation Consulting, Inc. and winner of the EPA’s WaterSense Partner of the Year – 2009, is a proponent of the WaterSense program.

Brian VinchesiHe spends much of his time advocating for water conservation and promoting water efficiency throughout the industry. Vinchesi shares, “The public relations effort by the EPA’s WaterSense program is excellent for the industry. Generally speaking, the EPA’s attempt to look at water savings like energy savings is great.”

Vinchesi has reservations with the water budget inaccuracies in the technical data. Evapotranspiration in July is the basis for the water budget. There are wide variations in evapotranspiration rates across the country. July is not always the peak water-use month. The water budget gives too much water to drier areas of the country and not enough water to wetter areas of the country. In wetter areas, using July as the driest month will not save as much water. In wetter climates, more water savings could be achieved in other months. Additionally, in other parts of the country, Arizona for example, July is not the month with the highest level of evapotranspiration.

Vinchesi feels the WaterSense label campaign for products is working well. However, he feels that the WaterSense labeling for new homes is a little too prescriptive and the science behind some of the assumptions is lacking.

Vinchesi’s biggest concern for the future of the WaterSense program is that the limitation on funding has kept the EPA from doing more. “Overall,” Vinchesi says, “everyone at the EPA works very hard. The awards program is good and has been expanded. The EPA has done an excellent job.”

“The irrigation industry needs to see more products with the WaterSense label. The plumbing industry has more experience in working with government agencies and is more adept at consensus-based decisions. The irrigation industry is slowly learning how to work with this style of decision making.”

Vinchesi believes that in the future, the WaterSense program will need additional funding. “It is taking too long to get things done. The EPA is on-track with product labeling, but there needs to be better research and science behind the water budget and WaterSense labeling for new home construction. Commercial and institutional standards need to be developed.”

Tim Malooly – 2008 WaterSense Irrigation Partner of the Year

Tim Malooly, President of Water in Motion and 2008 WaterSense Irrigation Partner of the Tim MaloolyYear, has been involved with the EPA’s WaterSense program since its inception in 2005. He likes the program’s goal of achieving a 20% water savings without adversely affecting the lifestyle of consumers.

He feels that the premise of developing consumer awareness of our water resources through a strong educational effort is great. “It’s all about affecting behavior,” says Malooly, “There is a great deal of work to do in building consumer awareness. The consumer can have a huge impact on saving water by understanding the difference between a properly designed and installed irrigation system and a poorly installed irrigation system. Additionally, the consumer can save even more water by interacting and adjusting their irrigation controller on a regular basis.”

Malooly’s concern lies in the tendency of concentrating the agency’s efforts on developing a standard for a technological device like weather-based controllers that will reduce water usage when educating consumers can have a far greater impact.

“Picking SMART controller as the initial product for the first WaterSense labeled irrigation device was probably a mistake,” says Malooly, “There are other, more conventional devices, like rain sensors and spray heads with built-in pressure regulators, that could have been WaterSense labeled faster because of a wider level of acceptance within the landscape irrigation industry.”

Malooly is concerned that the WaterSense New Home Specification has some flaws. Developing a specification that is easily administered across the country is difficult. Malooly adds, “The water budget tool is workable but needs some refinement. There are regional differences that are vital to consider.”

“In the future, realizing that this is a living document and the specifications are subject to change is important. All of us in the landscape irrigation industry can play an important part in the development of this program,” says Malooly.

The EPA’s opinions carry a lot of weight in conservation organizations. Working with the landscape irrigation industry is important as the EPA moves forward in increasing consumer awareness of water conservation. “Hopefully, the International Code Council will assist in developing a standard for the irrigation industry,” concludes Malooly.

Judy Benson – 2010 WaterSense Irrigation Partner of the Year

Judy Benson EPA Award

Judy Benson, left, receiving the 2010 U.S. EPA WaterSense
Partner of the Year Award


Judy Benson, owner of Clear Water Products & Services and 2010 WaterSense Irrigation Partner of the Year likes the EPA’s WaterSense program. “The EPA WaterSense program is on the right track,” says Benson, “Although there is some room for improvement, this program raises the bar by requiring certification for performance standards. This helps to professionalize the industry. We need more contractors to get on-board with the program.”

While the WaterSense product labeling is a good idea, its implementation has been too slow for the irrigation industry. Benson would like to see more outdoor products with the WaterSense label, and adds, “The WaterSense New Home Specification needs some adjustment.”

Benson would also like to see a recertification program for older properties. “Too many irrigations systems are installed here in Florida and not looked at afterwards,” says Benson, “All irrigation systems require attention and maintenance to perform properly.”

“Overall, the EPA WaterSense program is on the right path. The program is more suggestive than prescriptive,” says Benson, “and that is a good thing.”

Jeff Carowitz, owner of Strategic Force Marketing, thinks the EPA’s WaterSense program is a good program. He sees a lot of changes facing the irrigation industry today, and believes the EPA’s WaterSense program raises consumer awareness. Carowitz exclaims, “In building business, it is up to the contractor to effectively use the program.”

Carowitz is hopeful that the EPA’s WaterSense program will enjoy the same success as the EPA’s ENERGY STAR program. The ENERGY STAR program, by creating a standard for energy efficiency, has helped create demand for energy efficient products. This helps consumers make more informed decisions on their purchases. Carowitz believes that the EPA’s WaterSense program can assist manufacturers, suppliers, and contractors in positively promoting water efficiency to consumers.

The U.S. EPA WaterSense Program is on the Right Track

From the interviews conducted for the landscape irrigation industry, the EPA is on the right track with the WaterSense program. Those familiar with the program appreciate the program’s ability to educate the public about water conservation and water efficiency. Concerns point to the program’s ability to create products and procedures usable in variable locations and climates, both nationally and internationally.

The EPA exerts considerable influence with the American consumer and throughout the world. With that said, the program’s product labeling campaign helps manufacturers increase product sales and gives consumers more information about a product’s water saving ability.

Most agree that water is a precious and vital resource; water conservation is readily accepted as something both consumers and industry professional must address. Creating programs that educate, standardize, and work effectively are no longer optional. The best solutions are often those that are created from a shared responsibility for a positive and effective outcome.


[1] http://www.epa.gov/WaterSense/pubs/cert_programs.html

[2] http://www.epa.gov/WaterSense/about_us/why_watersense.html

What is WaterSense®?

What is U.S. EPA WaterSense®?

EPA WaterSens LogoLaunched in June of 2006, the EPA’s WaterSense program created a goal to educate the public and consumers in the importance of water conservation. During the 2006 American Water Works Association’s Annual Conference and Exposition in San Antonio, Texas, EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson informed, “Commercial and residential outdoor water use in the United States accounts for more than seven billion gallons of water each day, mainly for landscape irrigation.” The EPA estimates over three and a half billion gallons of water are wasted every day from inefficient and ineffective landscape irrigation practices. More than fifty percent of irrigation water used in residential and commercial irrigation systems is wasted.

The EPA’s WaterSense Program is a program designed to promote water conservation and the efficient use of water through education, not regulation. There are four primary features of the program.

Consumer Education

WaterSense is working towards protecting our nation’s water supply by educating consumers and businesses in water efficient practices, programs, and products.

FixALeakWeekThe Fix a Leak Week campaign, held annually in March, is one of the ways WaterSense is bringing water conservation awareness to the public. The EPA reports that the average American home leaks over 10,000 gallons of water each year. Nationally, this represents over 1 trillion gallons of water lost.

We’re for Water” campaign was launched to encourage consumers to make simple changes to save water. The cornerstone of the campaign is a series of print public service announcements featuring Flo, the WaterSense spokesgallon. The public outreach campaign traveled the country passing out 500 WaterSense labeled aerator faucets in order to raise awareness about how easy water conservation can be at home.

We're for WaterAs part of the “We’re for Water” campaign, the “I’m for Water” program asks individuals to take a pledge and commit to checking off one or more simple tasks each month to save precious water resources. The program provides tips on how to use less water and spend less on utility bills.

Professional Certification Programs

EPA Watersense Product LogoIrrigation professionals can earn a WaterSense labeled certification by demonstrating expertise in water-efficient irrigation technology and techniques. The specifications cover three areas: irrigation system design, installation and maintenance, and system auditing.

Irrigation professionals can distinguish themselves from competitors through certification and a documented commitment to the program of water efficiency. Certified irrigation professionals are listed in WaterSense’s Directory of Certified Professionals, making it easy for consumers and businesses to find local irrigation experts.

The Irrigation Association’s certification program was the first certifying partner to be approved by the EPA. The following is a list of professional certification programs that have earned the WaterSense label[1].

Irrigation System Design

§  Certified Irrigation Designer (CID) (landscape/turf specialties only) – Offered by the Irrigation Association, available nationwide.

§ Irrigation System Installation and Maintenance

§  Certified Irrigation Contractor (CIC) – Offered by the Irrigation Association, available nationwide.

Irrigation System Audits

§  Certified Golf Irrigation Auditor (CGIA) – Offered by the Irrigation Association, nationwide.

§  Certified Landscape Irrigation Auditor (CLIA) – Offered by the Irrigation Association, available nationwide.

§  Certified Water Management Program – Offered by the California Landscape Contractors Association, available in California.

§  Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper (QWEL) – Offered by the Sonoma–Marin Saving Water Partnership, available in California, Utah, New Mexico, Florida, Wyoming. Available for adoption nationwide.

§  Texas Certified Landscape Irrigation Auditor Program (TxCLIA) – Offered by Texas A&M AgrilLife Extension Service, Texas A&M School of Irrigation, available in Texas.

§  Watershed Wise Landscape Professional (WWLP) – Offered by G3LA, LLC, available in California and west of the Rocky Mountains.

Product Labeling

Products that carry the WaterSense label generally demonstrate a 20% water savings over conventional products. WaterSense labeled products are tested by independent, third party testing and certification agencies. The certification process is rigorous, assuring consumers that a WaterSense labeled product will deliver exceptional performance and water savings.

WaterSense has issued final product specifications and technical clarifications for the following product categories[2]:

WaterSense New Home GraphicNew Home Specification

The WaterSense New Home Specification is designed to reduce residential water use, both indoors and outdoors, when compared to a conventional new home. The program focuses on hot water, as well as water use in the bathroom, kitchen, and landscaping.

American homes average 75 gallons of water use per person per day. The EPA claims that compared to an existing home, a WaterSense labeled home could save more than $200 per year on water and energy bills. The WaterSense New Home Specification works well with other green building programs like ENERGY STAR, LEED®, and the National Green Building Standard.

The water we use everyday is vital and limited. We as an industry have both an opportunity and a responsibility to increase our water conservation efforts. The EPA’s WaterSense program has proven we can increase water efficiency and develop practices that help preserve this precious resource. To find out more about the benefits of a WaterSense labeled home and the latest in program news, read the WaterSense Blueprint, a quarterly update dedicated to news and events related to WaterSense labeled new homes.

[1] http://www3.epa.gov/watersense/outdoor/cert_programs.html

[2] http://www3.epa.gov/watersense/partners/product_program_specs.html


Water Rates Go Up Three Times Faster than the Consumer Price Index

The Price of Water

Wasting Dollars Water ImageWater rates continue to rise faster than the rate of inflation. Most major U.S. cities have experienced a 25% water rate increase over the last three years. At this rate of growth, landscape and irrigation contractors throughout the U.S. will no doubt incorporate this reality in their water conservation plans on all future projects.

Click Here for the full report base on the Circle of Blue‘s annual survey of water rates for single-family residential customers.

In 2013, the increase in the water rates for residential customers averaged 6.7%.

In 2013, the increase in water rates for residential customers averaged 6.7%. This is three times higher than the Consumer Price Index of 2.1% for 2012. Surprisingly, the residential cost of water for a family of four is lower in states within arid regions than in more temperate regions of the country. In comparison: a typical family of four in Phoenix, Arizona pays about $35 per month; whereas, in Boston, Massachusetts a typical family of four pays about $65 per month for the same amount of water.

Not surprisingly, average residential water use is significantly higher in areas of low rainfall. Fresno, California, with an average water use of 200 gallons of water per person per day, has the highest per capita water use in the nation. Conversely, Boston, Massachusetts, with an average water use of less than 50 gallons of water per person per day, has the lowest per capita water use of any major city in the United States.

Water Rates & Water Conservation

Water conservation continues to be a major focus in cities where water infrastructure is at capacity. However cities with excess capacity, such as Milwaukee, Wisconsin, are encouraging water consumption. Over the last three decades Milwaukee water use has dropped over 40%. The declining use of water in Milwaukee is because of the disappearance of breweries and tanneries, both water intensive businesses, who went out of business or relocated out of the area.

Water conservation is working. Per capita water use is decreasing. Water demand throughout the United States is falling or remaining steady despite increases in population. Water use in the United States peaked around 1980. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) reported, “after 1980 water use started to decrease a bit, possibly due to the Nation making more use of water-conservation measures.”

Ohio Domestic Water Use Increases 25%

Midwest Water Rates

2010 – 2013 Water Rates Midwest Cities – Circle of Blue

In 2005, domestic water consumption in Ohio averaged 69 gallons per person per day. The average consumption rate ten years prior was 54 gallons per person per day. This represents a 25% increase in domestic water consumption within a ten-year period.

Water rates are also on the rise for many communities. Across the country water rates increased nearly 7% in thirty major U.S. cities. Columbus, Ohio water rates have increased 4% in 2013. In Chicago, water rates have increased 15%. Whereas other Midwestern cities, such as Indianapolis and Milwaukee, reported no increase in their water rates.

Water Conservation Strategies

There is more work to do in conserving outdoor water use. Newer technologies like rain sensors and ET-based controllers help; however, simpler methods are available.

Professionalism – Join your national and local irrigation association. Get certified, become an EPA WaterSense Partner and promote professionalism.

Rain Sensors – Install a rain sensor on every irrigation system.

Drip Irrigation – Use low-volume micro-irrigation or drip in shrub areas and flowerbeds.

Monthly Water Budget Adjustments – Adjust the water budget monthly during the season.

Irrigate Only When Necessary – Encourage homeowners and property managers to irrigate only when necessary.

Weather – Watch the weather forecast for upcoming rain events and turn off the irrigation controller.

Correct Sprinkler Head Spacing – Insist on head-to-head coverage fro sprinkler spacing on every job.

Nozzle correctly – Match sprinkler head precipitation rates by installing the appropriate nozzle.

EPA WaterSense Milestone Graphic

Since the program’s inception in 2006, WaterSense has helped consumers save a cumulative 487 billion gallons of water and $8.9 billion in water and energy bills.


Specifications for Soil Moisture Sensors Being Developed by EPA WaterSense

Soil Moisture Sensors – The Most Effective Way to Irrigate

Rain Bird Soil Moisture SensorSoil moisture–based control technologies water plants based on their needs by measuring the amount of moisture in the soil and tailoring irrigation schedules accordingly. Studies suggest that soil moisture sensors can result in water savings of at least 20 percent, potentially saving millions of gallons of water across the country. Soil moisture–based control technologies that earn the WaterSense label will take the guesswork out of watering and help improve irrigation system efficiency.

As an alternative to convention irrigation controllers, soil moisture-based control technologies make irrigation schedule adjustments by automatically tailoring the amount and frequency and timing of irrigation events based on the moisture content of the soil in the landscape.

WaterSense has issued its Notice of Intent to develop a specification for soil moisture–based control technologies. If you are interested in participating in developing the specification for  soil moisture-based control technology Click Here to send your comments to the EPA WaterSense Program.

Approved Weather-based Irrigation Controller Specification

Watermark Soil Moisture Control SystemSoil moisture-based control is designed to work in conjunction with the WaterSense Weather-based Irrigation Controller Specification. Replacing a standard irrigation controller with a WaterSense labeled irrigation controller can save an average home nearly 8,800 gallons of water annually. If every home in the United States with an automatic sprinkler system installed and properly operated a WaterSense labeled controller, we could save $435 million in water costs and 120 billion gallons of water across the country annually from not overwatering lawns and landscapes. That’s equal to the annual household water needs of nearly 1.3 million average American homes.

Earning the WaterSense Label

To earn the WaterSense label, landscape irrigation controllers must be able to adequately meet the watering needs of a landscape without overwatering. As with all other WaterSense labeled products, WaterSense labeled controllers will be independently certified to ensure that they meet the WaterSense criteria for efficiency and performance.

About the EPA WaterSense Program

EPA Watersense Product LogoWaterSense, a partnership program by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, seeks to protect the future of our nation’s water supply by offering people a simple way to use less water with water-efficient products, new homes, and services.

WaterSense brings together a variety of stakeholders to:

  •  Promote the value of water efficiency.
  • Provide consumers with easy ways to save water, as both a label for products and an information resource to help people use water more efficiently.
  • Encourage innovation in manufacturing.
  • Decrease water use and reduce strain on water resources and infrastructure.

The program seeks to help consumers make smart water choices that save money and maintain high environmental standards without compromising performance. Products and services that have earned the WaterSense label have been certified to be at least 20 percent more efficient without sacrificing performance.

Upgrading to more efficient WaterSense labeled products can help us to save billions of gallons of water in the country every year. Something as simple as twisting on a WaterSense labeled aerator and upgrading to a WaterSense labeled faucet could save a household 11,000 gallons over the life of the faucet. Learn more about how you can save water and help WaterSense preserve and protect our nation’s water resources.


Fix A Leak Week – March 18-24, 2013

Fix a Leak Week 2013Fix A Leak


Every Drop Counts

March 18-24, 2013

Did you know that the average American family can waste, on average, more than 11,000 gallons of water every year due to running toilets, dripping faucets, and other household leaks?

Nationwide, more than 1 trillion gallons of water leak from U.S. homes each year. That’s why WaterSense reminds Americans to check their plumbing fixtures and irrigation systems each year during Fix a Leak Week.

WaterSense is teaming up with our partners to promote the fifth annual Fix a Leak Week, March 18-24, 2013.

From New Mexico’s search for bad flappers to leak detection efforts in Texas, West Virginia and across the nation, explore our list of some of the Fix a Leak Week 2012 events. For all the latest on Fix a Leak Week events happening across the country, be sure to follow us on Facebook Exit EPA Disclaimer and Twitter


Checking for Leaks

To check for leaks in your home, first you need to determine whether you’re wasting water, then identify the source of the leak.

  • Take a look at your water usage during a colder month, such as January or February. If a family of four exceeds 12,000 gallons per month, there are serious leaks.
  • Check your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter changes at all, you probably have a leak.
  • Identify toilet leaks by placing a drop of food coloring in the toilet tank. If any color shows up in the bowl after 15 minutes, you have a leak. (Be sure to flush immediately after the experiment to avoid staining the tank.)
  • Examine faucet gaskets and pipe fittings for any water on the outside of the pipe to check for surface leaks.
  • The Regional Water Providers Consortium has a video on detecting household leaksExit EPA Disclaimerthat you may find helpful.

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Fix a Leak: Toilets

A common reason why toilets will leak is an old or worn out toilet flapper (sometimes called a “valve seal”). Flappers are inexpensive rubber parts that can build up minerals or decay over time. Replacing them can be a quick and easy fix for your water woes. To fix this leak, consult your local hardware store, home improvement retailer, or licensed plumber. Here are some online resources from WaterSense partners:

Tip: Bring the old flapper to the hardware store for comparison to make sure you buy a new flapper that fits your toilet model. You can also check the owner’s manual, if you have it, or the manufacturer’s Web site for the appropriate replacement part number for the flapper.

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Fix a Leak: Faucets

Old and worn faucet washers and gaskets frequently cause leaks in faucets. Many tutorials are available online for how to fix a wide variety of faucets. Here are a couple of examples:

Tip: Don’t forget to turn off the water line before you start!

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Fix a Leak: Showerheads

Some leaky showerheads can be fixed by making sure there is a tight connection between the showerhead and the pipe stem and by using pipe tape to secure it. Pipe tape, also called Teflon tape, is available at most hardware stores, is easy to apply, and can help tame unruly leaks. For more complicated valve leaks in showers that drip when not in use, contact an experienced handyperson or licensed plumber.

Tip: It’s also a good idea to check and, if needed, replace the washer or “o” ring inside the showerhead while making this repair.

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Fix a Leak: Outdoors

If you have an in-ground irrigation system, check it each spring before use to make sure it wasn’t damaged by frost or freezing. Or hire a WaterSense irrigation partner to inspect it for you. These professionals have passed a certification program focused on water efficiency. They will not only help you detect and correct leaks in the system, but also maximize its efficiency.

Finally, check your garden hose for leaks at its connection to the spigot. If it leaks while you run your hose, replace the nylon or rubber hose washer and ensure a tight connection to the spigot using pipe tape and a wrench.

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Leaks Still Flowing Overboard?

Have you done all that you can to try to eliminate leaks from your home but still can’t nip that drip in the bud?

If you’ve already determined you have leaks and you find these step-by-step solutions aren’t enough to stop them, it might be time to replace your leaking fixtures. If you consult with a plumbing professional, and look for the WaterSense label if you are considering a new toilet or faucet, you could increase your home’s water efficiency.

See a complete list of WaterSense labeled products.

The Facts on Leaks:

  • Leaks can account for, on average, 10,000 gallons of water wasted in the home every year, which is enough to fill a backyard swimming pool.
  • The amount of water leaked from U.S. homes could exceed more than 1 trillion gallons per year. That’s equivalent to the annual water use of Los Angeles, Chicago, and Miami combined.
  • Ten percent of homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons or more per day.
  • Common types of leaks found in the home include leaking toilet flappers, dripping faucets, and other leaking valves. All are easily correctable.
  • Fixing easily corrected household water leaks can save homeowners more than 10 percent on their water bills.
  • Keep your home leak-free by repairing dripping faucets, toilet valves, and showerheads. In most cases, fixture replacement parts don’t require a major investment and can be installed by do-it-yourselfers.
  • The vast majority of leaks can be eliminated after retrofitting a household with new WaterSense labeled fixtures and other high-efficiency appliances.

Leak Detection:

  • A good method to check for leaks is to examine your winter water usage. It’s likely that a family of four has a serious leak problem if its winter water use exceeds 12,000 gallons per month.
  • Check your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter does not read exactly the same, you probably have a leak.
  • One way to find out if you have a toilet leak is to place a drop of food coloring in the toilet tank. If the color shows up in the bowl within 15 minutes without flushing, you have a leak. Make sure to flush immediately after this experiment to avoid staining the tank.

Faucets and Showerheads:

  • A leaky faucet that drips at the rate of one drip per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons per year. A home with WaterSense labeled toilets could use that water to flush for six months!
  • Leaky faucets can be reduced by checking faucet washers and gaskets for wear and replacing them if necessary. If you are replacing a faucet, look for the WaterSense label.
  • A showerhead leaking at 10 drips per minute wastes more than 500 gallons per year. That’s enough water to wash 60 loads of dishes in your dishwasher.
  • Most leaky showerheads can be fixed by ensuring a tight connection using pipe tape and a wrench.


  • If your toilet is running constantly, you could be wasting 200 gallons of water or more every day.
  • If your toilet is leaking, the cause is most often an old, faulty toilet flapper. Over time, this inexpensive rubber part decays, or minerals build up on it. It’s usually best to replace the whole rubber flapper—a relatively easy, inexpensive do-it-yourself project that pays for itself in no time.
  • If you do need to replace the entire toilet, look for a WaterSense labeled model. If a family of four replaces its older, inefficient toilets with new WaterSense labeled ones, it could save more than 16,000 gallons per year. Retrofitting the house could save the family approximately $2,000 in water and wastewater bills over the lifetime of the toilets.


  • An irrigation system should be checked each spring before use to make sure it was not damaged by frost or freezing.
  • An irrigation system with pressure set at 60 pounds per square inch that has a leak 1/32nd of an inch in diameter (about the thickness of a dime) can waste about 6,300 gallons of water per month.
  • To ensure that your in-ground irrigation system is not leaking water, consult with a WaterSense irrigation partner who has passed a certification program focused on water efficiency; look for a WaterSense irrigation partner.
  • Check your garden hose for leaks at its connection to the spigot. If it leaks while you run your hose, replace the nylon or rubber hose washer and ensure a tight connection to the spigot using pipe tape and a wrench.


EPA WaterSense Marketing Seminar, Tuesday April 24th from 2:00 to 3:00 pm Eastern Daylight Time

EPA WaterSens LogoJoin the EPA WaterSense Team for an informative marketing seminar

Wondering how to get homeowners to stop overwatering this summer? As part of our marketing webinar series, WaterSense will tackle outdoor water attitudes, education, and outreach ideas in April. Registration is open for this month’s WaterSense/We’re for Water marketing webinar,Tuesday, April 24 from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.

Join us for an overview of upcoming WaterSense plans, as well as a look at secondary research WaterSense conducted on outdoor water use behaviors in various communities across the country. We’ll review some of the tools WaterSense and its partners have used to reduce outdoor water use in their communities; participants will also hear first-hand from a WaterSense partner with a thriving outdoor water education campaign. Learn how you, too, can apply these methods to your own program—no matter the size—and discuss your own promotional ideas for outdoor water efficiency.

If you have a communications/outreach colleague who would benefit from any of these webinars, feel free to pass this email on. If you have not yet registered for this webinar, click here to sign up and receive dial-in information for the April 24 webinar. If you have any questions regarding We’re for Water webinars, please contact the WaterSense Helpline at watersense@epa.gov or 866-WTR-SENS (987-7367).

Thank you, and we hope you’ll be joining us!


EPA’s WaterSense Team

EPA WaterSense Partner Forum – Improving Irrigation Efficiency, Thursday, May 3rd from 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm

Join us to learn more!

 EPA WaterSense Logo

The WaterSense program invites you to its next Partner Forum on Thursday, May 3, 2012, from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time to learn about strategies for reducing outdoor water use and improving irrigation efficiency.

You will hear from WaterSense promotional and irrigation partners about effective approaches to reducing outdoor water use and exciting opportunities for collaboration on outdoor water-efficiency initiatives. We will spotlight a tool to help landscape professionals sell water-efficient irrigation and landscaping practices to potential customers, a successful rebate program for weather-based irrigation controllers, and innovative efforts to install water-efficient irrigation systems. Confirmed speakers include:

  • Dan Muelrath, City of Santa Rosa, California
  • Gary Tilkian, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
  • Chris Curry, Sweeney & Associates, Inc., WaterSense 2011 Irrigation Partner of the Year

Click here to register for this webinar. If you have any questions, please contact the WaterSense Helpline at watersense@epa.gov or (866) WTR-SENS (987-7367).

We look forward to speaking with you on the call!


EPA’s WaterSense Team

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Fix a Leak Week – March 12-19th








Drip, drip, drip. It’s just about that time of year again. Grab a wrench, pipe tape—and your keyboard!—to celebrate the fourth annual Fix a Leak Week, March 12-18, 2012.

 Every Drop Counts

Did you know that an American home can waste, on average, more than 10,000 gallons of water every year due to running toilets, dripping faucets, and other household leaks?

Water Spout - Raci, Peru South AmericaNationwide, more than 1 trillion gallons of water leak from U.S. homes each year. That’s why WaterSense reminds Americans to check their plumbing fixtures and irrigation systems each year during Fix a Leak Week.

WaterSense is teaming up with their partners to promote the fourth annual Fix a Leak Week, March 12-18, 2012.

From New Mexico’s search for bad flappers to leak detection efforts in Texas, West Virginia and across the nation, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved in this year’s Fix A Leak Week. Explore a list of some of this year’s many events to find out more.

For all the latest on Fix a Leak Week events happening across the country, be sure to follow this on Facebook.

To keep the momentum going, partners are encouraged to use Twitter and the hashtag #fixaleak all week long to promote their efforts and the Fix a Leak Week campaign. In the meantime, don’t forget about all of the great promotional tools available on WaterSense Partner website, and make sure to check out what other partners are doing to spread the word about finding and fixing leaks.

Check out this video from Wisconsin DNR.

EPA WaterSense Webinar: Environmental Education Initiatives, February 23rd from 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm


EPA WaterSense Banner

Join the EPA WaterSense Team on February 23rd from 4:00 to 5:30pm for a FREE webinar to learn about several innovative environmental education and outreach activities of other WaterSense partners. The groups below are helping to create a nationwide, long-term water-efficiency ethic and will give short 15 minute presentations on their projects during the following webinar. We hope this will provide a chance for information and idea exchange as well as an opportunity to collaborate on these exciting initiatives.


February 23, 2012; 4:00 – 5:30pm


Please register here

Use the following call-in information:

Call-in Number: 1-888-346-3659

Passcode: 45444

Please direct any questions regarding this webinar to the WaterSense Helpline at (866) WTR-SENS (987-7367) or e-mail here.



National Environmental Education Foundation- Be Water Wise

The National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) will present Be Water Wise, a water conservation education program that engages teachers, facilities staff and students from public schools in classroom learning and hands-on projects that address local water issues (e.g. conservation or stormwater management). After pilots in Miami, Atlanta, and Washington, DC (currently underway), NEEF is collaborating with Discovery Communications on a model for national replication.


University of Arizona- Conserve to Enhance

Conserve to Enhance is an innovative program designed to provide a direct link between water conservation by water users and environmental enhancement in their community.


Wyland Foundation- National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation

The Wyland Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit public charity that encourages environmental awareness about our ocean, waterways, and marine life, will be discussing non-traditional incentives to encourage smart water stewardship including their upcoming National Mayors Challenge for Water Conservation.


OneChange.org- This Blue Dot

One Change is a charitable organization based in Ottawa, Canada that encourages people to believe that simple actions matter and to make smart choices to protect the environment. “This Blue Dot” is a water conservation program encouraging people to detect and repair toilet leaks using a non-toxic, vegetable-based blue dye tablet.

(866)WTR-SENS (987-7367) | www.epa.gov/watersense | watersense@epa.gov