Since the ongoing California drought took hold in 2012, water conservation has become a greater matter of concern – and not just for the Golden State. Most areas west of the Rockies have been challenged with a water shortage in one form or another in the past several years, and now even Midwestern states are anticipating drought or near-drought conditions.
In a study by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in 2014, 40 out of 50 state managers expected water shortages in some portion of their states under average conditions in the next 10 years. This includes an expected statewide shortage in Montana and regional shortages throughout Minnesota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. As a result, states have focused more attention on the demand for what once seemed like an unlimited resource.
With a growing need for water conservation nationwide, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) WaterSense program continues to lead the charge in helping to prolong our water resources for many years to come – and it continues to gather support from manufacturers, utilities, contractors and consumers alike.
For the unfamiliar, WaterSense is a voluntary program (not a regulatory one) that aims to protect the country’s water supply by offering people a way to identify products that are water efficient. Products carrying the WaterSense label have been certified to be at least 20 percent more water efficient and perform as well as or better than similar products in the same category. Some of the biggest names in the plumbing industry, like American Standard, Delta, Kohler, Mansfield, Moen and Zoeller, have all gotten on board with the EPA’s program and are manufacturing WaterSense-labeled products.
With the demand for water-efficient homes and businesses steadily increasing, it’s time for plumbers and contractors to go with the flow if they haven’t already. Homeowners and business owners are looking for new ways to save energy and water without sacrificing performance and convenience, and the WaterSense program is helping to provide plumbers and contractors with the means to meet this demand.
In addition, it’s becoming easier to “sell” customers on the benefits of water-efficient products. According to the EPA, the average household spends as much as $500 per year on water and sewer bills. By installing WaterSense-labeled products, trade professionals can save homeowners about $170 annually. By just replacing old,inefficient toilets with WaterSense-labeled models, the average family can save $110 per year in water costs.Furthermore, some water utilities even provide rebates for the installation of water-efficient products. When provided with facts and figures like these, consumers havean easier time understanding how an investment up front pays for itself in the end, making it easier to introduce the idea to change out inefficient toilets and faucets. Plus, with products available in a variety of price points and styles – more than 1,600 models of shower heads, 1,900 models of toilets and 6,800 models of faucets already qualify – introducing these products is even easier.
As water conservation continues to become a more pressing issue and water-efficient products continue to become more popular, utilizing WaterSense products remains a sensible choice for those who work with water.
The Dry Truth
With more than 70 percent of Earth’s surface covered in water, it may seem like we have an unlimited resource, but that’s not true when it comes to what’s available for human use. Most of the Earth’s water is either salt water from the ocean, frozen water in the polar ice caps or simply too inaccessible for practical use. In the end, only 1 percent of the Earth’s water is actually available for people to use.Additionally, despite a constant supply of water from Mother Nature’s natural cycle continuously returning water to Earth, it’s not always returned to the same place, nor in the same amount or quality. When you consider the ever-increasing human population and consequent demand, it becomes clear just how precious a resource water is.
To date, the WaterSense program has helped save a cumulative 1.1 trillion gallons of water and helped consumers save $21.7 billion in water and energy bills. Plus, it’s not just helping to conserve water. WaterSense has helped to reduce the amount of energy needed to heat, pump and treat water by 146 billion kilowatt hours and eliminate 54 million metric tons of carbon dioxide – the equivalent of planting somewhere around 1.4 billion trees.