• Convinced that the state’s water softener ban bill would have hurt consumers and had “little positive impact,” California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed the legislation (AB 2270) on Sept. 30. Schwarzenegger acknowledged the reality of salinity problems. However, his veto message stated that the bill included provisions “that go too far in limiting residential use of water softeners.”

    The Water Quality Association, the Pacific Water Quality Association and others in the industry put together a coalition - retail “big-box” companies, major brand names, dealers and many of their employees, and the Retail Merchant’s Association - to oppose the bill.

    Among the group’s efforts was the development of a Web site, SaveMySoftener.com, where the industry helped direct more than 14,000 consumer e-mails to every legislator in California and the governor’s office, expressing their personal opposition to the ban.

  • However, Gov. Schwarzenegger did sign AB 2222, a bill which directs the State Water Resources Control Board to recommend to the legislature policy solutions to address acute drinking water problems in areas where communities rely primarily on groundwater. The board has been conducting groundwater monitoring since 2002, gathering data from 16,000 public drinking wells. The data documents the closure of more than 8,000 public drinking water wells since 1984 - in most cases, due to contamination.

  • The Environmental Protection Agency recognized its first WaterSense Partners of the Year for encouraging Americans to tap into their water resources wisely over the last year (www.epa.gov/watersense/awards.htm). The awards were presented Oct. 9 at the WaterSmart Innovations Conference and Exposition in Las Vegas, the first national water-efficiency conference for an interdisciplinary audience.

    In 2007, WaterSense partners were responsible for labeling, selling and promoting more than 193,400 WaterSense-labeled products.

    While the EPA’s WaterSense program depends on the efforts of more than 1,000 partners, these four partners earned this special distinction:
      - Manufacturer Partner of the Year: Kohler Co.
      - Retailer and Distributor Partner of the Year: Ferguson
      - Promotional Partner of the Year: The Saving Water Partnership
      - Irrigation Partner of the Year: Timothy Malooly of Shorewood, Minn.

  • Plumbing for greywater systems will be required in all new homes built in Tucson, Ariz., after mid-2010. The new rules require stub-outs for greywater systems for all new homes that are issued permits after June 1, 2010. The regulations affect only new construction, not existing houses, unless the homeowner builds an addition with a new bedroom, bathroom and kitchen.

    The greywater plumbing would cost $500 to install - although home builders can knock off $200 of that through a state income-tax credit - and the cost would likely be passed on to home buyers. Homeowners then could choose to install additional pipes, underground tanks to store the water and a pump to move the water outdoors.

  • More than 70 of Gerber Plumbing Fixtures’ lavatory faucets were recently WaterSense-certified. In order to earn the label, Gerber’s faucets - both residential and commercial models - were tested in accordance with the procedures in ASME A112.18.1/CSA B125.1, and met the exacting U.S. EPA maximum flow rates of 1.5 gpm. The faucets join the 16 Gerber toilets already certified through the program since fall 2007. 

  • The U.S. Department of Energy recently launched the Zero-Net Energy Commercial Building Initiative with the objective of developing new commercial buildings that produce as much energy as they use by 2025. Energy-efficiency technologies and on-site renewable energy generation systems, including solar power and geothermal energy, will help make this possible. The DOE also has formed the National Laboratory Collaborative on Building Technologies, which will allow the department and five of its national laboratories to work together on the research, validation and commercialization priorities that are important to achieving zero-net energy buildings.

    To learn more about DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy programs in buildings, visit http://buildings.energy.gov.

  • NIBCO recently introduced a “green” addition to its Web site to make it easier for end-users to specify and install NIBCO products in eco-friendly construction projects. Visitors will have access to a central repository of resources and tools to keep them informed of green building practices, as well as changing standards and codes. Go to www.nibco.com and click on the Green link.

  • Armstrong Ltd. has been accepted as a “leader” of the Canadian Industry Program for Energy Conservation. This program is part of the Canadian Natural Resources Department. Armstrong is a supplier of quality high-efficiency HVAC and fluid-handling equipment for residential, commercial and industrial applications.

  • The Mechanical Service Contractors of America announced that eight additional contractors have been awarded the MSCA GreenStar designation:
      The Fagan Co., Kansas City, Kan.
      Enginuity, Harrisburg, Pa.
      E.B. O’Reilly & Associates, Philadelphia
      Current Mechanical, Ft. Wayne, Ind.
      Midwest Mechanical, Kansas City, Mo.
      Andy Egan Co., Grand Rapids, Mich.
      Hill York Service, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
      Indoor Environmental Services, Sacramento, Calif.