Nov. 4, 2003 -- This country faces both water infrastructure and water supply problems. The gap between needs and investments for water and wastewater infrastructure could potentially be $224 billion over the next 20 years.
Just as important, 36 states expect to experience water shortages over the next ten years, even without drought conditions. To address these critical issues, Assistant Administrator for Water G. Tracy Mehan III announced a national program to promote water-efficient products to consumers.
As a first step toward assessing the needs of a water-efficient product market enhancement program, Mehan is conducting a series of stakeholder meetings to work toward possible approaches and partnership opportunities to promote water efficiency in the residential, commercial, and industrial sectors. The first stakeholder meeting was held on October 9, 2003 in Washington, DC and attended by about 100 people representing a broad range of stakeholder interests.
Jim Hanlon, Director of the Office of Wastewater Management, gave the opening remarks and introduced Assistant Administrator Mehan who gave the keynote address. Three panel discussions were held, each followed by a facilitated discussion. The first panel gave state, local, and public perspectives, with representatives of the California Urban Water Conservation Council, East Bay Municipal Utility District, and Friends of the Earth.
The second panel discussed working programs and international perspectives. The Australian water-efficient product labeling program, the Energy Star program, and the Canadian Water and Wastewater Association were represented. The last panel session dealt with the perspectives of manufacturers and retailers of water-using products, with presentations by Home Depot, Rain Bird, the Irrigation Association, and the American Home Appliance Manufacturers.
Presentations reflected a mixture of enthusiasm and caution. A great deal of support was expressed for a market enhancement program, particularly by the water industry. On the other hand, manufacturers and equipment installers cautioned that many products operate as part of a system, so that product performance is dependent on the other parts of the system.
Manufacturers also urged that enough lead time be given for them to respond to voluntary standards. Copies of background information, press releases, a summary of the meeting, speeches, presentations, post-meeting comments, brief biographies of the panelists, and a list of the attendees will be posted on EPA's water-efficiency web site at http://www.epa.gov/water/water_efficiency.html
Currently, plans call for three additional stakeholder meetings, as follows:
Jan. 15, 2004, Austin, TX, State, regional, and local gov'ts and NGO roles
Mid-February, Southwest US, Urban landscape irrigation products
Mid-March, Seattle, Wash., Commercial/institutional products
As meeting plans are finalized, notices will be placed on the water-efficiency web site at http://www.epa.gov/water/water_efficiency.html.