The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Jenny Hoffner, American Rivers, 404-373-3602
Caitlin Jennings, American Rivers, 202-243-7023

EPA Watersense Specifications Move Water Efficiency Efforts in the Right Direction

Specifications on new homes are a good start, but some improvement is still needed


American Rivers, the nation's leading river conservation organization, applauds the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for their recently released draft specification on the WaterSense label for new homes.

WaterSense, a partnership program sponsored by EPA, seeks to protect the future of our nation's water supply by promoting water efficiency and enhancing the market for water-efficient products, programs, and practices. The WaterSense label, similar to the EnergyStar label, helps consumers identify water-efficient products. American Rivers has been an active partner with the WaterSense program serving as the only environmental non-profit organization on its founding steering committee.

American Rivers applauds EPA for addressing both indoor and outdoor water criteria in the draft specification. Water use inside a building commonly does not represent all of the consumption that occurs in a single-family home as outdoor water use may range from 30 to 60% of total use. Moreover, peak outdoor water use can drive the need for additional water supplies, and choices made during the construction of a home-like installing pools, ornamental features, or large areas of turf grass-can greatly influence the amount of water used outdoors.

"In this time of drought and economic crisis, using our water resources wisely is a way entire communities can save both water and money," said Jenny Hoffner, water supply program director at American Rivers. "Water efficiency is not about asking people to change their routine-it's about doing the same things we always do, just with less water."
"While these specifications are a major step forward in encouraging water efficient practices across the nation, there is still more the Water Sense New Homes program can do." Hoffner said.

American Rivers hopes that future revisions of the specification provide that the WaterSense label is not available for homes built within 100-year flood plains or for homes that fill and/or destroy water bodies, including wetlands.

Additionally, we would like the Water Sense New Homes program to require new home sites also maintain the natural water processes as they occurred before development in order to promote groundwater recharge, base flows in streams, and the long-term vitality of the area's water resources.

We look forward to continuing our work with EPA's WaterSense program to include provisions for floodplain protection and stormwater management.

American Rivers is the only national organization standing up for healthy rivers so our communities can thrive. Through national advocacy, innovative solutions and our growing network of strategic partners, we protect and promote our rivers as valuable assets that are vital to our health, safety and quality of life. Founded in 1973, American Rivers has more than 65,000 members and supporters nationwide, with offices in Washington, DC and the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, Midwest, Southeast, California and Northwest regions.