Public Policy Issues
WaterSense is a voluntary, public-private partnership program sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. WaterSense works to protect the future of national water supplies by promoting water-efficient products, practices and professionals.
Policy issues related to WaterSense include:
- Program authorization and funding.
- Incentives for water-efficient products and services.
- Specifications for new homes.
The Irrigation Association actively supports WaterSense labeling of irrigation professionals and products.
Congressional Authorization of the WaterSense Program
Recently, Rep. Cartwright (D-PA) introduced legislation to authorize the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense program. H.R. 3720, the Water Advanced Technologies for Efficient Resource Use (WATERUse) Act of 2015, is one of the cleanest WaterSense authorization bills introduced in Congress over the last seven years. This legislation would better promote the use of efficient irrigation technologies and practices by providing congressional oversight and funding to the WaterSense program. You can review the full text of the bill here.
The WaterSense program works to protect our nation’s water resources by promoting water-efficient products, practices and professionals. The IA collaborated with the EPA to create this voluntary program and is proud to be the first and longest-serving certifying partner of WaterSense. In recognition of this working partnership, the IA is working to get support behind the bill and already sent a letter to the bill sponsor.
Read IA's letter of support for WaterSense authorization.
Irrigation Product Labeling
The Irrigation Association SWAT Initiative is a national partnership initiative of water purveyors and irrigation industry representatives created to promote landscape water use efficiency through the application of state-of-the-art irrigation technologies. SWAT develops testing protocols, which are then provided to the WaterSense program. WaterSense uses the SWAT protocols as the basis for their specifications for irrigation products.
Learn more about the IA activities to develop WaterSense product labeling.
Similar to rebates available to agricultural producers who implement more efficient irrigation systems and machines for on-farm use through USDA’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program, the Irrigation Association actively supports incentives for consumers who invest in efficient irrigation products and services that carry the WaterSense label.
Learn more about current rebates available that are associated with the WaterSense label.
Learn more about IA activities to support WaterSense incentives.
WaterSense Homes Specification
In December 2009, EPA released the final version of its voluntary WaterSense specification for newly constructed single-family homes and townhomes. The specification defines criteria for indoor and outdoor water-use efficiency that new homes must meet to qualify for the WaterSense label.
The final specification was shaped by contentious industry debate, kicked off when EPA released its first draft in May 2008. Between the release of the initial and final specifications, IA proactively engaged our members, green industry organizations and WaterSense program leadership to advocate for science-based criteria for landscape water efficiency.
IA welcomes and supports positive changes from earlier drafts, including:
- A more realistic, 0.65 distribution uniformity audit requirement.
- Requirements that irrigation systems be designed or installed and audited by WaterSense-certified professionals.
- Allowances for turfgrass (in addition to other vegetation) on slopes that exceed four feet of horizontal run per one foot of vertical rise.
IA continues to oppose prescriptive elements of the final specification that lack sound scientific support, including a 40-percent turf limitation on a new, single-family home’s landscapable area. The association will continue to engage WaterSense leadership to ensure advances in industry technologies and practices are incorporated in future iterations.
The association is committed to helping IA-member WaterSense partners take advantage of business opportunities associated with the new homes program, including developing education programs to help homebuilders and irrigation professionals meet spec requirements.
Learn more about IA activities related to the WaterSense homes spec.