By: Tim Kilbane, PMI President and National Sales Manager, Symmons Industries
The U.S. has just been ranked among nine other nations facing “critical water shortages” as reported by Contractor Magazine.1 According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, nearly half of the country is facing abnormally dry conditions to critically severe conditions. California has been declared a state of emergency due to record breaking droughts and several of the plains states are facing dust bowl conditions. To make matters worse, even as Mother Nature dries up, because of our country’s aging infrastructure leaks alone waste nearly 1.7 trillion gallons of water per year, estimated to be equal to 16% of our nation’s treated water. To add to the problem, the American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that there are 240,000 water main breaks per year contributing to this loss of increasingly-scarce, clean water.
So why are we, a group of plumbing manufacturers, concerning ourselves with droughts and infrastructure? It’s because cities, counties, and states facing these severe water shortages are being forced to conserve water and increase the efficiency of its use in any way they can. For many areas, tearing up streets and easements to replace existing water infrastructure is just not a fiscal reality, nor is importing water to parched areas. That leaves finding ways to ease the strain on aging systems and making the most efficient use of the water available. Conservative estimates indicate that three billion gallons of water per day can be saved simply by retrofitting plumbing fixtures to WaterSense products, which are already on the market, and offer an immediate, low-cost, effective and painless solution. These products work! To qualify for the WaterSense label, today’s products must pass rigorous performance standards that far exceed their water-guzzling predecessors.
For the purpose of universal and consistent language, PMI actively engages with local and state jurisdictions that are looking to pass new laws and regulations to address these water shortages. Last month, the Governor of Colorado signed into law (Senate Bill 14-103) the “Phase in High-Efficiency Water Fixture Options” which addresses the state’s water shortages by promoting the sale of WaterSense products (see story on page 3). In view of similar PMI-backed legislation and successes in California and Texas, PMI was contacted by and worked closely with Denver Water to craft the legislation. We will continue to work with them to enhance the law during the state’s next legislative session. PMI has also identified several additional states facing critical water shortages and is working to raise awareness of the issue with policymakers in those areas, including: Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Missouri, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and the District of Columbia. Beyond just legislation, PMI advocates retrofitting legacy products to high efficiency WaterSense products through rebate programs and other incentives.
Additionally, PMI sent letters to each U.S. Senator urging them to support the “WaterSense Efficiency, Conservation, and Adaption Act of 2014” (S. 2226) recently introduced to the Senate by Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) that would help create funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) run program. In May, our CEO, Barbara C. Higgens, was invited to participate on an international panel to provide details of the U.S. EPA’s voluntary and consumer-choice based Water Sense program and PMI’s s involvement in the U.S. (see story on page 3) as the European Union also struggles to address water shortages of their own.
Driving change, building awareness and keeping tabs on the latest changes, and developing situations, is a big job for PMI’s staff. PMI is dedicated to the cause, and equally dedicated to spreading the word. Follow us on our social media sites and download the free PMI mobile app to get the most up-to-date developments. We will continue the discussion at the Fall Conference. See you there! (Details on pages 4 and 5 in the July issue of Ripple Effect.)
1 The nine nations identified by PolicyMic to be facing “critical water shortages” as reported by Contractor Magazine are: Brazil, Iran, India, USA, China, Jordan, South Africa, Libya and Kosovo.