Saving EPA’s WaterSense Program

Saving EPA’s WaterSense Program

Credit: Kohler

The EPA WaterSense Program is under serious threat of elimination. Water scarcity is on the rise and it is time to bolster proven water conservation programs, not cut them.

The Issue

Saving EPA’s WaterSense Program

Ten Years of WaterSense

A diverse group of representatives from across the public and private sectors joined EPA Administrator Steve Johnson along the River Walk in San Antonio, Texas, for the announcement of the formation of the EPA WaterSense Program on June 12, 2006.

Credit: Peter Mayer

The U.S. EPA’s WaterSense program, a voluntary labeling program that promotes independently certified water-efficient products and services, has been targeted for the chopping block in the President’s latest budget request to Congress. WaterSense has 1,700 partner organizations around the country, including AMWUA and its members, but the WaterSense program has never been formally authorized by Congress. Launched in 2006, the program’s budget is only $2 million per year, yet it has yielded an incredible return on investment, conserving 2.1 trillion gallons of water and saving consumers $46.3 billion on their utility bills. 

EPA’s WaterSense program is a mainstay of water efficiency and conservation programs throughout the country. These conservation and efficiency efforts are central to better managing water demand, to forestalling costly supply and system expansion, and increasing the resiliency of supply systems during water shortage events.

The program is so central that many utility conservation rebate programs are built around requiring WaterSense labeled products.  The WaterSense standards also are the basis for legislation in four states, and other local plumbing codes that reference it.

The program enjoys enthusiastic support from the private sector.  American plumbing and irrigation manufacturers have seen their businesses grow by adding WaterSense-labeled products to their portfolios, while start-ups and smaller shops are getting their products to market more quickly, thanks to the clearly defined performance standards and certification process in the WaterSense program.

The program’s lack of congressional authorization and the administration’s focus on reducing and reprioritizing federal spending means the WaterSense program will likely continue to be threatened with closure. Placing WaterSense on the same congressionally authorized footing as its sister program, EnergyStar, would give public and private sector partners the assurance they need to continue investing in this hugely beneficial program. AMWUA supports formal authorization and continued funding for WaterSense because the program’s benefits are consistent with AMWUA’s mission of advocating responsible water stewardship that supports economic prosperity for future generations.

Saving EPA’s WaterSense Program

WaterSense Awards 2012

WaterSense partners contribute to the program's success by enhancing the market for water efficient products, practices, and services. In 2012, AMWUA was recognized with an Award of Excellence for efforts supporting the program.

Current Efforts

Because AMWUA and its members recognize the terrific benefits and efficiencies the program provides, we have been stalwart partners of the program since its early days. In recent months, the AMWUA Board of Directors sent a letter to Arizona’s congressional delegation advocating formal authorization and continued funding support for WaterSense. Working alongside the Alliance for Water Efficiency, AMWUA signed onto a letter of 187 organizations and businesses ‘advocating for continued support of WaterSense. The AMWUA Board of Directors also authorized contributing $10,000 to support an initiative organized by the Alliance for Water Efficiency to save the WaterSense Program.

Saving EPA’s WaterSense Program

Water Efficient Fixtures

WaterSense labeled products and services are independently certified to use at least 20% less water, save energy, and perform as well as or better than regular models. To date, more than 16,000 products have received the WaterSense label. Credit: Kohler

What You Can Do

Contact your federal senator or congressperson to voice your support for EPA’s WaterSense program. This is the only way elected officials will know how important this program is to those who ultimately rely on and pay for our most precious resource.

You can also show your support for the program by voting with your dollar and purchasing WaterSense labeled products.