The first national non-profit organization on water efficiency has finally been created. Based in Chicago, the new Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE) is building its organization and membership and is launching a comprehensive web site with information on water efficiency programs and research. (www.allianceforwaterefficiency.org)

Announced in 2006 by EPA Administrator Steven Johnson, AWE was created in partnership with numerous national, regional, and state organizations. The Alliance received seed funding from EPA to build a water efficiency information clearinghouse and to work on plumbing and appliance codes and standards issues. The primary role of the organization will be as an advocate for water efficiency research, evaluation, and education. A charter board of directors was named early in 2007, consisting of 20 representatives from the US and Canada. These board members represent water utilities, environmental organizations, plumbing and appliance associations, irrigation manufacturers, the academic community, government, and others.

The water conservation community had wanted a means of creating and presenting a unified national perspective for some time. Until the Alliance was founded, water efficiency lacked a national organization similar to those that already exist for energy, such as the Alliance to Save Energy, the Consortium for Energy Efficiency, and the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy. Up until now, efforts to promote water efficiency have necessarily been piecemeal: the American Water Works Association Water Conservation Division provided leadership in water conservation issues for the water utility community; the Irrigation Association developed some smart-water initiatives on irrigation controllers and nozzles; and the California Urban Water Conservation Council helped take the place of a national organization by providing consulting services on codes and standards nationwide and serving as a clearinghouse on a variety of product issues. At last these organizations will now have a national platform for information sharing and advocacy.

We all have a stake in the efficient use of our water resources. Providing safe drinking water, maintaining economic competitiveness, and protecting ecosystems are all advanced by improvements in water use efficiency. Reducing water demand is often the lowest cost option for developing new supplies and in the future, it may be the only option. But widespread water-use efficiency requires strong advocacy and hard work, the kind of effort that the Alliance for Water Efficiency will provide.

Carole Baker, Chair Alliance for Water Efficiency