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Congress Signals Support for EPA WaterSense Program


Although the Trump Administration proposed eliminating WaterSense, the EPA program has received backing in both the House and Senate.

WaterSense is a public-private partnership that encourages the voluntary use of water-efficient plumbing products, services, and practices by consumers and businesses. Since starting in 2006, the program has saved them more than 2.1 trillion gallons of water and $46.3 billion in water and energy bills, according to EPA.

The latest Congressional action in support of WaterSense came with the introduction of the bipartisan Water Efficiency Improvement Act of 2017, introduced by Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio). According to Plumbing Manufacturers International (PMI), the proposed legislation would formally authorize the WaterSense program. Authorization of WaterSense will enable Congress to later assign funds to maintain the program.

Earlier, the U.S. House of Representatives' Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, which oversees funding for EPA, rejected the proposed elimination of WaterSense, reports the Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE).

Two other bills also provide congressional authorization for WaterSense:

S. 1137, the Clean Safe Reliable Water Infrastructure Act, introduced by Senators Cardin, Inhofe, Boozman, and Duckworth.

H.R. 3248, the Water Advanced Technologies for Efficient Resource Use Act of 2017, introduced in the House by Congressman Matthew Cartwright (D-PA), with 23 co-sponsors.

In a statement, PMI said: “The WaterSense label gives consumers a simple way to identify water-efficient plumbing products. WaterSense products are certified as meeting high performance standards while being at least 20 percent more water-efficient than other products meeting federal standards. The program has grown to include more than 21,000 WaterSense products for bathrooms (toilets, showerheads, faucets and urinals), commercial kitchens, and irrigation systems, according to the WaterSense program.”

An AWE statement said: “A true public-private partnership, the WaterSense® program has saved American taxpayers more than $32 billion (2015 dollars) on their water and energy bills in the last ten years. It has saved 1.5 trillion gallons of water to date, providing greater water security given that 40 out of 50 states are anticipating water shortages in the years to come, according to a 2013 Government Accountability Report. It also helps consumers manage their water costs and can help American families reduce their water bills by up to $350 per year.”

Both PMI and AWE have lobbied Congress to support the WaterSense program.

This Quick Read was submitted by Edward Sullivan, editor of Building Operating Management magazine, edward.sullivan@tradepress.com. Click here to read about how facility managers can use WaterSense standards and labeled products to reduce water use on Facilitiesnet.com.

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