Where the EnergyStar label is the granddaddy of the environmentally preferable product certification, WaterSense is its upstart offspring, still, one might say, “wet behind the ears” after just a decade of operation.
Run by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, WaterSense brings together the makers of water consuming products, water utilities, state and local officials, and local partners like the Neponset River Watershed Association and many of our local municipal water departments, to help Americans save water through education campaigns targeting the public and industry professionals, and by helping consumers easily identify toilets, showerheads, irrigation systems and many other devices that save water.
The results have been impressive, last year alone WaterSense partners saved more than 500 BILLION gallons of water. That’s water that wasn’t diverted from streams and wetlands in the midst of recent droughts, dozens of new water treatment plants that municipalities didn’t need to build, and a whole lot of water that ratepayers across the country didn’t have to pay for. It’s also a big help for the climate, since about 15% of household energy use and 8% of total American energy use goes to pumping, heating and treating water.
For the bottom line types out there, WaterSense has saved ratepayers an estimated $46.3 billion over the last decade. What does the federal government spend on WaterSense? Just $2 million per year. Over a decade, that’s a $20 million investment to save $46.3 billion. Forget about that tech startup or hot pharmaceutical stock, WaterSense earned a 231,000% return on investment, even before you consider the environmental benefits. Not too shabby.
In fact, the WaterSense program is so small that Congress didn’t have to create it. WaterSense is just a tiny bit of discretionary spending set aside each year by the EPA administrators during the Bush and Obama years.
Unfortunately, the Trump administration has proposed reducing funding for the WaterSense program to $0 for next year, and since WaterSense doesn’t legally exist, no one can stop them from shutting it down.
In an effort to save WaterSense, the Alliance for Water Efficiency has worked with Senators Cardin, Inhofe, Boozman, and Duckworth to introduce S. 1137, the “Clean Safe Reliable Water Infrastructure Act.” This bill would officially authorize the WaterSense program, so that Congress can appropriate money to keep it going. NepRWA has already signed on in support of the bill.
As things begin to dry out this summer and peak summer water use begins to take its toll on the Neponset, please take a moment to let Senator Warren and Senator Markey know that they should support S. 1137 and preserve this very small, but very important federal program!