Monday Morning Briefing

Monday Morning Briefing

Senator Introduces WaterSense, Efficiency Bills

A pair of bills introduced in the Senate last week would formally authorize EPA’s WaterSense program and authorize a new Department of Energy program to support demonstration projects that deliver water and energy efficiency improvements. Both proposals were sponsored by Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.).

The Water Efficiency Improvement Act (S. 1700) would formally authorize WaterSense, which EPA created in 2006 as a voluntary program that helps consumers identify products that are at least 20 percent more water efficient than competitors.  Over its lifetime the program has helped save an estimated 1.5 trillion gallons of water, but the Trump Administration has proposed eliminating WaterSense next year as part of a “refocus on core statutory requirements” at EPA.  Sen. Udall’s bill would prevent Trump or any future administration from unilaterally shuttering the program.

Sen. Udall’s other bill, the Smart Energy and Water Efficiency Act (S. 1696), would establish a Smart Energy and Water Efficiency Management Pilot Program to offer up to five grants for water utility demonstration projects that increase energy efficiency of water systems, promote water and energy conservation, and support the development and use of “advanced automated systems that provide real-time data on energy and water.” Grant recipients would be selected after the Energy Department considers the novelty, cost effectiveness and potential energy and cost savings of each application.

The Senate is unlikely to vote on Sen. Udall’s bills individually, but similar proposals have been incorporated into S. 1460, a comprehensive energy bill that the full Senate may consider this fall.