New bills would promote conservation and more accurate accounting of water-saving measures
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Flushing your toilet may not seem like that big of a deal in terms of water savings, but backers of a conservation measure headed for a May 3 Colorado Senate vote say their measure to promote water-efficient appliances and landscaping has the potential to to 2 billion gallons by 2050.
House Bill 1358 is a pro-active piece of legislation that simply requires homebuilders to give buyers the up-front option for various water-saving options, including low-flow toilets and faucets, high-efficiency washing machines, as well as low-water-use landscaping. House Bill 1051 would help water planners collect more accurate information about water efficiency efforts.
Both the measures appear to enjoy widespread support and have bipartisan backing in the State Legislature, although the homebuilding industry opposes HB 1358′s mandatory requirement that buyers be notified of water-wise options for appliances and landscaping.
New homes incorporating water-smart appliances and fixtures could easily use 20 percent less water, said Becky Long, water caucus organizer for the Colorado Environmental Coalition.
If, by 2050, 100,000 new homes are built using water-smart measures, it could save up to 2 billion gallons of water, Long said, explaining that the latest generation of low-flow toilets and other water-saving appliances and fixtures are far improved over earlier models.
Forecast population growth in the state means overall demand for water will continue to climb. Better conservation may help ensure that increase stays within a sustainable range.
“The demand for water in Colorado will only increase in the coming years, but through these creative and efficient solutions, we are ensuring we have an adequate water supply to meet that demand,” said Drew Beckwith, a water policy analyst for Western Resource Advocates.
“These two critical water efficiency measures are a great step towards ensuring that Colorado has enough water to meet our future needs. Water is always a controversial issue under the dome so I appreciate the hard work of the diverse stakeholders who helped to develop this legislation so far”, said House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Chair Randy Fischer.
Two proposed pieces of federal legislation would help support the state’s water conservation efforts, Long said. HR 2368 would provide long term support for EPA’s WaterSense Program. HR 1908, the W.A.T.E.R. Act, sponsored by Representative Mike Coffman (R-Colorado), would provide a personal tax incentive for individuals who purchase WaterSense Products.