A Changing Climate Means A Changing Society. The Island Press Urban Resilience Project, Supported By The Kresge Foundation And The JPB Foundation, Is Committed To A Greener, Fairer Future.​ This Post Was Originally Published June 8, 2017 in The Hill.

President Trump promised clean water for all Americans while preserving our natural resources. Yet his recently announced 2018 budget seeks to eliminate or drastically curtail programs that do just that.

It is especially perplexing to see EPA’s small but mighty WaterSense program on the chopping block. WaterSense, like its larger predecessor EnergyStar, is a voluntary water product-labeling program that partners with business and communities to enhance the market for water-efficient fixtures and appliances. In this way, WaterSense encourages consumers to purchase products that save water and energy.

In just ten years since its launch, the WaterSense program has already made valuable contributions to building water security for American communities. It has saved more than 1.5 trillion gallons of water, enough to serve all of California’s residents for a year. Those savings help protect the nation’s water future — ensuring that more water is available for future generations, emergencies and our waterways. Less water used also means less energy used to heat, pump and treat water — thereby eliminating 78 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions from our atmosphere.

The blue and green WaterSense logo helps customers easily choose new toilets, showerheads, faucets and irrigation controllers that have been independently certified to perform as well as or better than standard models — while using at least 20 percent less water.

That choice is good for American families that already spend an average of $1,100 per year on water. In fact, it has already saved consumers $32.6 billion in water and energy bills. With water rates rising each year, WaterSense can help families better manage their household expenses.

But WaterSense isn’t just delivering more reliable and affordable water to consumers; it’s actually driving innovation and supporting economic growth — goals at the core of Trump’s platform.

Large American plumbing and irrigation manufacturers have seen their businesses grow by adding WaterSense-labeled products to their portfolios, while start-ups and smaller shops are getting their products to market more quickly, thanks to the clearly defined performance standards and certification process in the WaterSense program. This has resulted in a competitive edge for companies manufacturing American-made WaterSense products. In addition, as water becomes more scarce and expensive, WaterSense can help all businesses reduce their operating costs and increase their resiliency by installing high-efficiency fixtures in their facilities.

WaterSense isn’t a mandatory program or an example of overreaching and costly regulations. It is a voluntary, public-private partnership program where businesses and communities opt in to participate.

And they have overwhelmingly opted in. More than 1,700 partners build their businesses and support their communities by participating in the WaterSense program. Nearly 200 of them recently signed a letter asking EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to continue to fund it into the future. 

So how much money is it? WaterSense costs taxpayers a mere $3.1 million per year to run — a meager federal expenditure for a significant economic benefit delivered to businesses and individuals. Continued public investment is key. A product labeling program run by the private sector would lack objectivity and credibility to consumers.

The WaterSense program is the best kind of government program. It leverages a small public investment into big savings for homeowners and businesses, while ensuring secure and sustainable water supplies. Let’s make sure it stays in the 2018 budget.

Urban Resilience