Dain Hansen is vice president of Government Relations, The IAPMO Group. He lends his frequent perspective of Capitol Hill, and the plumbing industry.
Here is an edited version of his update from March 20:
Executive Order Includes Water Efficiency. Yesterday, the President signed an executive order directing the federal government to cut carbon emissions by 40 percent from 2008 levels over the next 10 years. The White House stated that it will save taxpayers up to $18 billion in avoided energy costs, and increase the share of electricity the Federal Government consumes from renewable sources to 30 percent. In addition to cutting emissions and increasing the use of renewable energy, the executive order outlines a number of additional measures to make the Federal Government’s operations more sustainable, efficient and energy-secure, including directing Federal agencies to reduce water intensity in Federal buildings by 2 percent per year through 2025. While the order was widely praised by environmentalists, it fell short with Greenpeace. The group criticized the order, which also raises the federal share of electricity generated from renewables to 30 percent, for not curbing fossil fuel drilling on public lands.
New Water Heater Standards Take Effect Next Month. New national efficiency standards for water heaters, slated to take effect next month, mean Americans will soon be spending less money heating the water to wash dishes, clean laundry, and take showers. Water heating is the second largest household energy expense behind heating and accounts for about 18 percent of a typical home’s energy consumption. With nine million water heaters sold a year, the savings add up. Over thirty years, the new standards are expected to net consumers about $8.7 billion savings and save enough energy (2.6 quadrillion Btu) to meet the total energy needs of 13 million typical U.S. homes for a year. An average American household spends about $500 less per year on energy because of the national standards in effect today covering everything from refrigerators to air conditioners. The new water heater standards will reduce energy use by a modest 3-4 percent for the majority of storage water heaters and between 25-50 percent for those 55 gallons and over. The latter account for about 10 percent of the water heaters sold per year in the United States.
Governor, California Lawmakers Unveil $1B Emergency Drought-Relief Plan. Drought-relief legislation providing about $1 billion in spending was proposed Thursday by Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic legislative leaders as California enters its fourth consecutive dry year near the end of what has been a dismal wet season. The plan calls for $1 billion in drought relief and is a response to what the governor and lawmakers called a water crisis that has intensified after months without much significant precipitation. The vast majority of the package accelerates spending that voters have already approved for water and flood projects, including last year’s $7.5 billion bond measure. There is also money for emergency drinking water, food aid for the hardest-hit counties, fish and wildlife protections and groundwater management. Ninety-three percent of the state is under severe drought, according to the weekly report issued by several government agencies. Continuing dry conditions drove state water regulators this week to ramp up mandatory water restrictions on California residents. Under rules approved Tuesday by the State Water Resources Control Board, Californians cannot water their lawns daily and must ask for water when dining at restaurants. Brown was asked Thursday about calls for the state water board to enact stricter rules. He said the board is “acting at pace that makes sense.” He continued, ”It takes a long time for people to grasp an unprecedented change.”
Want to go to Spring Training? Conserve Water. This week, EPA promoted its annual “Fix a Leak” campaign reminding consumers of more than one trillion gallons of water that go down the drain because of household leaks. It is estimated that leaks may increase a water bill by as much as 10 percent. Annually, the average American family could be wasting more than 10,000 gallons of water — enough for 270 loads of laundry — due to easy-to-fix leaks. “Fixing household leaks is not only an important way to conserve water, but it is a simple way that American families can reduce energy use and lower utility bills,” said Ken Kopocis, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Water at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. To help consumers find and fix leaks, EPAWaterSense partners are sponsoring running races, workshops, contests and other educational events across the country. An example of promotions include the city of Goodyear, Arizona, is teaming up with the Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians to offer complimentary spring training baseball tickets to local residents whose 2015 winter water bills show a reduction from 2014.