When it comes to investing in water conservation, the cost is often low and the payback period quick. That’s why legislation introduced Tuesday by Reps. George Miller (D-CA) and Rush Holt (D-NJ) to authorize funding for the Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense program is a smart move for both economic prosperity and our energy and water futures.
The three-year-old WaterSense program evaluates plumbing fixtures and recommends those that are at least 20-percent more efficient than the existing national efficiency standard. It’s modeled on Energy Star, the longstanding and very successful program by the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, and the Department of Energy that helps consumers buy energy-efficient products, from televisions to washing machines to office equipment. The EPA estimates that WaterSense has helped save 277 million gallons of water per year, reducing consumers’ utility bills by $1.6 million.
The Miller-Holt legislation, H.R. 2368 would also:
- Establish a rebate program, based in individual states, to assist consumers in purchasing water-efficient fixtures. For states with existing programs, the legislation would help expand them. Initial federal funding would total $50 million and rise to $150 million a year by 2014.
- Guarantee that the federal government leads by example by directing agencies to purchase water-efficient products and take into account water consumption in their procurement practices.
WaterSense-approved fixtures are affordable for consumers and improve both water and energy conservation. Efficient and reliable bathroom faucet aerators can be purchased for a little more than $1, while low-flow showerheads can cost as little as $25. According to the Rocky Mountain Institute, an efficient showerhead will return 10-40 times its cost over 10 years.
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