WaterSense partners contribute to the program's success by enhancing the market for water–efficient products, practices, and services. Each year WaterSense recognizes those partners who have gone above and beyond in supporting WaterSense. The winners are typically announced at a Partner of the Year awards luncheon at the annual WaterSmart Innovations Conference and Exposition in Las Vegas, Nevada.
2020 WaterSense Partners of the Year
On October 7, 2020, the 2020 WaterSense Sustained Excellence, Partner of the Year, and Excellence Award winners were announced during a WaterSmart Innovations webinar held in lieu of the cancelled conference. WaterSense and its more than 2,000 utility, manufacturer, retail, builder, and other organizational partners make it possible for consumers and businesses to save water, energy, and money by producing and promoting water-efficient products, homes, and programs. Since 2006, WaterSense partners have helped save 4.4 trillion gallons of water and $87 billion on consumer utility bills.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is pleased to recognize eight Sustained Excellence Award winners, eight Partner of the Year Award winners, and 13 Excellence Award winners for helping to advance specific aspects of the WaterSense program in 2019 and contributing to annual savings of 871 billion gallons of water!
2020 WaterSense Sustained Excellence Award Winners:
- Athens-Clarke County (Georgia) Public Utilities Department
- Citrus County (Florida) Utilities
- City of Charlottesville (Virginia)
- City of Plano (Texas)
- Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District
- Kohler Co.
- The Sonoma-Marin (California) Saving Water Partnership
- KB Home
2020 WaterSense Partners of the Year:
- Big Bear Lake (California) Department of Water and Power
- Irvine Ranch (California) Water District
- City of Sacramento (California) Department of Utilities
- Upper San Gabriel Valley (California) Municipal Water District
- Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District
- Orange County (Florida) Utilities
- City of Aspen (Colorado), as a Professional Certifying Organization
- Fulton Homes
2020 WaterSense Excellence Award Winners:
- The City of Allen (Texas)
- Hilton Head (South Carolina) Public Service District
- Placer County (California) Water Agency
- City of Durham (North Carolina) Water Management
- Cobb County (Georgia) Water System
- The Toro Company
- City of Flagstaff (Arizona) Water Conservation Program
- Municipal Water District of Orange County (California)
- Sonoma Marin (California) Saving Water Partnership
- SUEZ North America-New York
- Santa Clarita Valley (California) Water Agency
- G3, Green Gardens Group, Los Angeles
- Energy Inspectors Corporation
Learn more about:
- 2020 Sustained Excellence, and Partners of the Year winners' accomplishments (PDF)(9 pp, 3 MB, About PDF)
- Excellence Award winners' accomplishments (PDF)(5pp, 2 MB, About PDF)
- Award winners from previous years
2020 Sustained Excellence Award Winners
With a wide variety of creative ideas to promote water efficiency in 2019, Athens-Clarke County Public Utilities Department earned its fourth WaterSense Sustained Excellence Award. To celebrate its Shower Better Month in February, Athens-Clarke offered a romantic tour of the North Oconee Water Reclamation Facility on Valentine’s Day. In addition to passing out chocolates, the utility provided toilet leak tablets and new showerheads as gifts to attendees.
In another creative approach to water conservation education, Athens-Clarke hosted its annual Ripple Effect Film Project, complete with a blue carpet premiere for Fix a Leak Week. A total of 26 filmmakers submitted short videos that were shown to over 200 attendees. Before the film debut, Athens-Clarke broadcast WaterSense trivia and information on finding and fixing leaks on screen. As part of its observation of World Toilet Day in November, Athens- Clarke gave away free toilet flappers during the month to help residents fix toilet leaks.
Athens-Clarke cooked up some other great promotional ideas all year long. The utility’s entry in the Athens Gingerbread Guild’s Gingerbread Home Competition was a completely edible “Look for WaterSense”-themed gingerbread house. The house, viewed by 700 visitors, included a WaterSense snowman, edible WaterSense labeled products, and a logo reminding consumers to “look for” labeled products. And as part of its Level 1 Drought response strategies, the Public Utilities Department gave away 500 fortune cookies in its Water Business Office lobby with five different WaterSense-related fortunes baked inside.
Citrus County Utilities earned its second Sustained Excellence Award for its work in 2019 educating citizens and encouraging use of WaterSense labeled products. In January, staff attended the Manatee Festival, where they distributed more than 150 toilet leak tablets and 100 faucet aerators. During the annual Shrimpalooza festival, the utility celebrated Fix a Leak Week Mardi Gras style, hosting a booth with WaterSense information, toilet leak tablets, and water drop-shaped masks for children to decorate. The utility also hosted its 12th annual water conservation expo, where it promoted its Schedule a Specialist program to help customers save water at home. Additionally, Citrus County collaborated with WaterSense partner Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) to send over 4,800 letters to consumers promoting Fix a Leak Week and explaining how to fix common leaks.
“Citrus County’s continuing partnership in the EPA WaterSense program furthers the goal of educating our community on efficient water use. The program makes it easy to promote the use of WaterSense labeled products to our customers, which provides immediate cost savings to them and long-term benefits to the overall community by preserving our water resources.”
Citrus County hosted three Irrigation 101 workshops in 2019 to educate over 70 residents who are new to irrigation systems about outdoor water efficiency. The workshops discussed the benefits of WaterSense labeled irrigation controllers and promoted Citrus County Utilities’ rebate program. In 2019, the utility had great participation in its Schedule a Specialist program, with over 300 residents taking advantage of the free home audit and receiving free WaterSense labeled fixtures, WaterSense materials, and rebate information. The county also held a raffle for residents to win a free WaterSense labeled irrigation controller.
Citrus County Utilities collaborated with a local Holiday Inn Express and SWFWMD to take advantage of the Water Incentives Supporting Efficiency program. Through this collaboration, the hotel was able to install 78 WaterSense labeled toilets and qualified for approximately $6,000 in rebates. The utility also collaborated with SWFWMD on an email and phone survey of its high water use customers to help implement a conservation education program in 2020.
It was water-saving business as usual in the City of Charlottesville in 2019, as the City earned its third Sustained Excellence Award. Charlottesville moved its annual Fix a Leak Family 5k race to May, as part of the first annual Rivanna RiverFest, to better link important water concepts. A local radio show host ran the race dressed as the “running toilet” mascot, and each participant received a race T-shirt and a WaterSense labeled faucet aerator. The City also held its annual Imagine a Day Without Water art contest to promote the importance of water conservation. The theme of “Only Use What You Need” yielded over 300 submissions, and the winning artists received a variety of WaterSense labeled products.
To promote water savings on social media, Charlottesville continued with its weekly #WaterTipWednesday to highlight conservation tips and WaterSense information. Advertisements on a local weather platform app asked visitors questions such as, “When is the best time to water your lawn?” These ads generated over 150,000 impressions, and nearly 400 clicks to the City of Charlottesville’s website. Throughout the year, the City distributed over 500 water conservation kits, which included labeled showerheads, faucet aerators, toilet leak detection tablets, and information on the City’s WaterSense labeled toilet rebate program.
In 2019, the City created a new Energy and Water Management Program that promotes WaterSense information on a dedicated internal website for City staff, which encourages installing WaterSense labeled products and promotes water saving behaviors in the office whenever possible. The City program also partnered with local schools to implement energy and water efficiency projects and education, working with the assistant superintendent and STEM coordinator and focusing on ways to include students. To broaden water-efficient design into other local projects, Charlottesville also incorporated WaterSense references into its Standards and Design Manual for City contractors and builders.
The City of Plano earned its first Sustained Excellence Award, following several Partner of the Year Awards. The City’s Sustainability and Environmental Education Division updated its brand with a new logo and mascot, “Owlbert,” who models sustainable behaviors such as saving water. The City of Plano also created a new social media campaign, “Flo’s Favorite Things,” where WaterSense “spokesgallon” Flo was photographed with toilet flappers, a soil moisture sensor, and other items to promote water efficiency. The social media posts of Flo’s Favorite Things reached over 3,000 people through the “Live Green in Plano” Facebook page.
In collaboration with a local sprinkler company, the City created its first- ever Sprinkler Fair in response to residents’ desire for hands-on irrigation education. A total of 45 attendees rotated between five stations focused on various irrigation components that were led by the City of Plano and irrigation professionals. Over 170 soil moisture devices, irrigation flags, hose nozzles, and other items were distributed to attendees. A post-event survey found that 84 percent of attendees planned to check their irrigation system for broken sprinkler heads and make sure they were directed away from pavement, while 92 percent reported that they would also adjust watering habits to the cycle-and- soak method to help reduce water waste.
The City also collaborated with The Home Depot and Lowe’s Home Improvement stores to provide applications for its WaterSense labeled toilet rebate program to customers; over 900 toilets were rebated in 2019, saving customers over $80,000. Additionally, the City offered free WaterSense labeled showerheads, shower timers, faucet aerators, toilet flappers, toilet leak detection dye tablets, soil moisture meters, and other items to residents year-round.
For the third year in a row, Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District earned a WaterSense Sustained Excellence Award for its work supporting 17 partner utilities in their water conservation efforts. For Fix a Leak Week 2019, the District continued its successful Water Drop Dash 5k race; over 900 participants saw water conservation messaging along the route and received water-saving giveaways, including faucet aerators and toilet flappers. A new race T-shirt design competition had 30 designs submitted for the 2019 Water Drop Dash T-shirt.
Another Fix a Leak Week promotion included a collaboration with a local digital influencer, @UnlikleyMartha, to create a blog post about the campaign with more than 18,000 views, as well as a potential reach of over 13,000 across Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Other WaterSense campaigns Metropolitan North Georgia celebrated in 2019 included Sprinkler Spruce-Up, Your Better Bathroom, and Shower Better. And the District continued its partnership with Caribou Coffee to give discounts to customers who answer trivia questions about water conservation such as, “What is the most common cause of water loss in the average home?”
In 2019, the District launched a new pilot program with its partner utilities to offer qualifying commercial properties free assessments to find potential areas for water savings and labeled fixtures. The program referenced the WaterSense at Work best practices guide for commercial and institutional facilities. Finally, the District researched availability, cost, performance, and efficiency of labeled products in the Metropolitan North Georgia region. Results from this survey were submitted to WaterSense as the program considered its product specification reviews; the District plans to continue this work and share data with its stakeholders in the future.
Kohler Co. earned its sixth Sustained Excellence Award this year. One notable achievement in 2019 was developing three rain-style showerheads that earned the WaterSense label based on recent specification updates. By collaborating with EPA, Kohler helped WaterSense determine the rain shower criteria in its showerhead specification, broadening opportunities for consumers to save water in this product category. In total, Kohler earned the WaterSense label on 36 tank-type toilet models, 30 new faucets, 58 showerheads, one urinal, and one flushometer valve toilet in 2019 alone!
Throughout the year, Kohler featured its WaterSense labeled products at major trade shows, including the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show in January 2019, where 80,000 attendees viewed WaterSense labeled toilet demonstrations. Other WaterSense promotion included several articles and weekly emails to consumers focused on WaterSense labeled products and water conservation. Kohler also offered online training to over 1,400 industry professionals, and 25 in-person training sessions highlighted WaterSense in the presentation.
In 2019, Kohler donated over 1,200 WaterSense labeled plumbing products to various charitable projects. As a Gold Sponsor of Habitat for Humanity’s Home Builders Blitz, Kohler also donated over 500 WaterSense labeled toilets and 250 faucets for 152 new homes, 61 repairs, and 16 rehabs made as a part of this program. The company’s KOHLER Relief Showering Trailer, which features WaterSense labeled fixtures, has provided nearly 3,000 showers to hurricane relief volunteers in Florida and those fighting wildfires in California. Kohler also provided WaterSense labeled fixtures to Lava Mae, a mobile showering project that provides resources for homeless citizens in California.
For the fourth year in a row, the Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership (Partnership) has earned a WaterSense Sustained Excellence Award as a professional certifying organization (PCO). In 2019, the Partnership finished a Spanish version of its Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper (QWEL) program to help its adopting organizations expand their reach to the Hispanic community. After being tested by a panel of bilingual subject experts, the Spanish version of the QWEL reference manual was made available free on the QWEL website. The Partnership also hosted QWEL-focused booths, held a number of events, and distributed postcards and bill stuffers in both English and Spanish.
To help launch a Bay Area QWEL program, the Partnership collaborated with nine other Bay Area water utilities and the California Water Efficiency Program (CalWEP). To recruit new trainers for the program, CalWEP hosted a train-the-trainer event, and its first QWEL certification workshops certified 60 participants. QWEL was also adopted by the Southern Metro Water Supply Authority in the South Denver Metro region of Colorado, and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California initiated a pilot program for 2020. The Partnership worked with a local community college, Santa Rosa Junior College, to make the QWEL program an integral part of its landscape irrigation class; students take the QWEL exam at the end of the semester and have to install an irrigation system with a WaterSense labeled weather-based irrigation controller.
All told, the Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership itself has issued nearly 1,000 QWEL certificates since the program began, issuing 55 new certifications in 2019 alone. Organizations that have adopted QWEL held more than 40 certification workshops in 2019, resulting in close to 650 individuals becoming QWEL certified—more than any other year on record!
For its continued commitment to sustainability and building WaterSense labeled homes, KB Home has earned its sixth Sustained Excellence Award. In 2019, KB Home had 147 homes earn the WaterSense label, bringing the total of KB WaterSense labeled homes to nearly 2,000. KB installs WaterSense labeled products in all of the homes they build. Overall, the company has installed 700,000 WaterSense labeled fixtures to date. By KB’s estimation, these homes and fixtures have saved an estimated 1.5 billion gallons of water annually!
KB Home constructed a concept home, KB ProjeKt, in a Las Vegas community to demonstrate how technology could help reduce environmental impacts and affect homeowner wellness. This WaterSense labeled home debuted during the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show and was also featured at the 2019 International Builders’ Show. Thousands of attendees were able to tour the home and learn about sustainable homes and WaterSense.
KB Home continued promoting WaterSense and featured information on the program and labeled products in its sales materials, website, signage, social media, and more. KB Home team members attend employee training on the company’s sustainability initiatives and water-saving options. To further promote the use of WaterSense labeled fixtures and water-efficient landscaping, KB Home partnered with the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) to host a HERS H2O rating demonstration during the RESNET Conference in February 2019.
2020 Promotional Partners of the Year
Big Bear Lake (California) Department of Water and Power (BBLDWP) earned its first Partner of the Year Award for an impressive array of outreach and education programs. BBLDWP has a long-held change-of-service policy requiring that customers have water- efficient plumbing fixtures installed when they purchase a property. The utility helps its customers achieve that water-saving goal with a multitude of incentives. For example, BBLDWP rebated nearly 200 water-efficient toilets for residents, most of which were WaterSense labeled, and gave away more than 150 WaterSense labeled showerheads and nearly 400 bathroom and kitchen faucet aerators to residents. To promote commercial water savings, BBLDWP rebated an additional 50 WaterSense toilets and distributed showerheads and aerators to commercial customers.
On Earth Day 2019, the department cohosted an event for more than 750 attendees, even providing transportation so that 300 elementary students could attend. The event featured multiple stations. Students received a passport upon entry they could get stamped and earn a prize for visiting all the exhibits. One station included a hands-on leak fixing activity with real tools. The utility distributed WaterSense educational materials and encouraged residents to sign up for free indoor and outdoor water audits. Big Bear Lake also co-hosted a self- guided Xeriscape Garden Tour with the local Sierra Club chapter. Seven water- efficient yards in the Big Bear Valley served as stops on the tour, and the utility’s own demonstration garden was staffed with a native plant expert. Attendees received native plant seeds, WaterSense outdoor educational materials, and information on the utility’s free rain barrel program.
In collaboration with another WaterSense partner, Resource Action Programs, BBLDWP distributed Water Wise kits to fifth graders at three local schools featuring WaterSense labeled showerheads, aerators, toilet leak detection tabs, and educational materials. Following the program, 37 percent of students and their families installed the showerheads, 27 percent installed faucet aerators, and 39 percent repaired a toilet leak after using the leak detection tabs. The program estimates cumulative water savings of nearly 300,000 gallons of water and wastewater. BBLDWP promotes WaterSense in their lobby, on their radio ads, in the local newspaper, on their Facebook, Twitter, website, and at all in-person events.
In recognition of its creative outreach to customers, Irvine Ranch Water District (IRWD) received a WaterSense Promotional Partner of the Year Award. Through its Water Efficiency Blockbuster Series, IRWD’s social media posts featured photos of employees recreating superhero characters sharing water-saving tips. During Fix a Leak Week 2019, IRWD held a contest on social media; over 80 customers submitted photos of themselves fixing leaks or they completed online training and took a quiz for a chance to win a prize. Customers were also encouraged to find a hidden WaterSense logo in the IRWD monthly newsletter for a chance to win a water efficiency kit. More than 200 submissions were received over the six-month contest period.
To help residents save water and energy, IRWD partnered with local energy utilities, Southern California Edison and SoCalGas, on the Get Smart Program. This direct-install effort provided over 300 WaterSense labeled weather-based irrigation controllers in 2019. IRWD also continued its popular “Ask Juan” newsletter column, where customers submit irrigation and landscape questions to Senior Water Efficiency Specialist Juan Garcia.
In 2019, IRWD’s residential rebate program provided incentives for nearly 200 WaterSense labeled toilets and more than 650 WaterSense labeled irrigation controllers. To promote water efficiency in local businesses, IRWD certified six businesses through the WaterStar Business Recognition Program, which provides financial incentives for efficiency improvements and use of the WaterStar logo.
After the City of Sacramento (California) Department of Utilities earned an Excellence Award last year for its education and outreach efforts, it found more ways to help customers save water, earning a Promotional Partner of the Year award. During Fix a Leak Month in March 2019, the utility conducted its Leak Free Sacramento program, which provides home leak repair assistance to customers in disadvantaged communities. There were 43 applications to the program and 20 completed repair projects, a significant increase from the previous year. Broadening their efforts to identify and fix household leaks, the utility sent nearly 15,000 letters to customers who might have had leaks in their homes, based on their water use. For those who couldn’t find any leaks themselves, the City offered free inspections to help them determine the cause of the leak. Following that mailing, Water Conservation Office representatives completed 2,600 inspections to identify water leaks. The Water Conservation team conducted more than 600 free WaterWise House Calls and also encouraged customers to access a web portal where they could monitor water usage to detect future leaks and take advantage of product rebate programs.
In July 2019, the utility hosted the first annual Sacramento WaterWise Garden Showcase, where more than 120 homeowners learned about WaterSense labeled irrigation controllers from Rachio, Rain Bird, and Hunter; discussed water-wise plants and trees with local nurseries and native plant associations; and explored landscape design ideas with local Association of Landscape Designers. In the fall, the City of Sacramento promoted Break Up With Your Lawn, a three-week social media campaign that used humor to suggest alternatives to residential landscapes that require heavy water usage and to “break up with their lawn.” Sacramento is known for its extensive urban tree canopy, and the utility held two workshops in partnership with Sacramento Tree Foundation about smart irrigation, mulching, and maintenance of trees.
Another spring and summer campaign, Made Possible By, promoted the City of Sacramento’s rebates for WaterSense labeled irrigation controllers and drought-friendly landscaping as a way to make beautiful yards with less water. In 2019, over 1,000 WaterSense labeled controller rebates were issued--twice as much as the previous year! The utility attributes this increase to its new instant rebate feature on an online e-commerce platform launched in partnership with the local electricity utility provider. The utility provided funding for two Alliance for Water Efficiency studies on the impacts of drought and landscape transformation programs.
The Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District (California) built upon its 2018 water efficiency outreach success, culminating in winning a WaterSense Partner of the Year Award for a second year in a row. To expand its reach to more residents, the Upper District offered educational materials in Mandarin, as well as Spanish and English. Upper District also initiated collaborative efforts to begin translating some of the WaterSense materials into Mandarin. For Fix a Leak Week, the agency hosted leak detection workshops, including one presented in Mandarin co-hosted with the City of Arcadia. The Upper District also engaged the commercial sector through water-smart landscape equipment retrofits and offering a new workshop on finding and fixing leaks for businesses.
Financial incentives for WaterSense labeled products in Upper District’s area included rebates for approximately 400 tank-type toilets, over 200 flush valve toilets, and nearly 400 weather-based irrigation controllers. The agency also continued its Large Landscape Retrofit Program, installing over 40 WaterSense labeled weather-based irrigation controllers at large landscape sites that irrigate more than 125 acres of land. New for 2019, Upper District implemented a Residential Plant Voucher Program that provided 175 vouchers, each redeemable for up to $250, to encourage homeowners to choose native, climate-appropriate plants to create attractive landscapes that require less frequent watering.
To reach younger audiences, Upper District offered water education grants of up to $1,000 for K-12th grade schools. Sixteen teachers were awarded grants totaling $14,642 for projects involving nearly 1,900 students. The agency also continued its “Water is Life” art contest, receiving over 150 student entries from 33 different schools focused on the value of water. Upper District also offered a selfie photo spot during its annual WaterFest, where over 2,000 participants could take a photo with the “look for” WaterSense logo.
The Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, also known as Northern Water, is a regional water wholesale provider that earned its first Partner of the Year Award by collaborating with a number of organizations to promote water efficiency, including the 33 cities it serves. The District hosted a Conservation Garden Fair in June 2019 for regional water users, where attendees could sign up for water audits, learn about WaterSense labeled product rebates in the region, and bring in an old showerhead in exchange for a WaterSense labeled model; the showerhead exchange is also offered year- round. The fair had over 400 attendees in 2019—the highest attendance at that event to date. Northern Water’s Collaborative Water-Efficient Landscape Grant Program also helps customers achieve water-efficient landscapes and includes a requirement to incorporate WaterSense labeled controllers when upgrading irrigation systems. A total of $110,000 was awarded in 2019 for commercial projects that serve as regional examples of attractive, drought-resilient, water-efficient, and sustainable landscapes that are models for other commercial customers to emulate.
“WaterSense provides a high-value, national platform for developing and sharing water efficient products and practices, allowing partners to leverage training, technology, and collaboration that continues to save water indoors and in landscapes. We appreciate this partnership and the opportunities it provides for conservation and performance.”
Northern Water worked with Colorado State University Extension and Colorado College on various programs and entities to support and encourage students to pursue water conservation professions. The organization hosted a short course lead by the Extension that provided landscape water management and information on WaterSense labeled products to over 100 landscape practitioners. Northern Water also collaborated with a local non-profit, the Energy Resource Center, which focuses on energy retrofits for income-qualified residents. Through this partnership and donations to other regional housing agencies, Northern Water distributed 250 WaterSense labeled aerators and showerheads to help residents save water, energy, and money.
To get local municipalities more involved in WaterSense, Northern Water collaborated with the Sonoran Institute on its Growing Water Smart Workshop, a three-day, intensive workshop for municipalities and regional stakeholders on how to incorporate water efficiency into land-use planning efforts. During the workshop, the District promoted the benefits of its WaterSense partnership and WaterSense labeled products.
After receiving certificates for going above and beyond in its water efficiency outreach in the past, Orange County (Florida) Utilities went to the head of the class this year, earning its first Partner of the Year Award for its outstanding education efforts in 2019. Much of the utilities’ efforts were geared toward children, and they reached nearly 9,500 K-12 students with various initiatives. The Blue Thumb Jr. Detective program, which correlates with Florida State Sunshine Education Standards, provided water conservation presentations to over 1,400 students. Orange County also held its Water Conservation Drop Savers Calendar Contests; more than 4,400 students submitted artwork about saving water.
The utility’s Full STEAM Ahead Robot Challenge encourages students in middle school to consider careers in the water industry; the program had 23 kids participate in 2019. The Tinker program, meanwhile, is a digital, science-based curriculum that taught water conservation to over 2,700 students. Participants received conservation kits and instructions on how to save water at home. Orange County attended “Touring the Water Facts,” held at the Orlando Science Center, which featured hands-on activities highlighting the different parts of the water production industry. The more than 200 middle school students and teachers who participated got to play the Spin the Wheel game and answer WaterSense and water conservation trivia.
Kids aren’t the only ones who learn about saving water in the Sunshine state. Orange County Utilities’ Water Wise Neighbor program helps customers become more water-efficient at home by educating them on best water management practices. The program distributed nearly 2,000 WaterSense labeled showerheads and over 100 WaterSense labeled irrigation controllers to participants. A Sprinkler Spruce-Up contest encouraged participants to make water-saving changes to their irrigation systems during Smart Irrigation Month in July. Orange County also coordinated with the local library to hold four Efficient Irrigation workshops in July 2019. Additionally, the utility continued its toilet incentive program, rebating more than 300 WaterSense labeled toilets in 2019.
PROFESSIONAL CERTIFYING ORGANIZATION PARTNER OF THE YEAR
The City of Aspen has won its first WaterSense Professional Certifying Organization Partner of the Year Award. The City became a Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper (QWEL) Professional Certifying Organization in 2018, and since that time has actively promoted and encouraged participation in this WaterSense labeled certification program, to provide valuable continuing education for landscape professionals and to inform the public about water-efficient landscaping.
Aspen is a small, seasonal community of less than 7,500 residents, but its commitment to water efficiency is big. The City implemented new Water Efficient Landscape Standards in 2019 that require all new landscapes and renovations to undergo a third- party irrigation audit by a certified professional that has demonstrated knowledge of water-efficient practices through a WaterSense labeled certification program. Aspen decided to exclusively offer free QWEL trainings to local landscape professionals to ensure that they have a strong cohort of local experts who are able to perform these audits and are trained to practice water-efficient irrigation methods. All professionals who attended achieved certification through this WaterSense labeled program. The City of Aspen lists all QWEL certified professionals on its website so developers and homeowners can find them easily, and they have realized a re-certification rate of approximately 82 percent.
To recruit and promote the certified pros, Aspen conducted a variety of outreach, including email campaigns, direct phone calls, Facebook, Twitter, and newspaper advertising, as well as a quarterly QWEL newsletter that features the WaterSense affiliation. They also opened the trainings to residents who are interested in water-efficient gardening and provided a free lunch-and-learn to professionals to learn more about the Water Efficient Landscape Standards, understand QWEL certification, and receive continuing education credits.
BUILDER PARTNER OF THE YEAR
As a new WaterSense builder partner, Fulton Homes made a big splash by earning its first Partner of the Year Award for its water-saving construction. In 2019, Fulton installed WaterSense labeled products in almost 900 homes; 30 of these homes earned the WaterSense label. To promote its labeled homes and its WaterSense partnership, Fulton Homes featured WaterSense on its website and distributed fliers to prospective buyers with the benefits of purchasing a WaterSense labeled home.
Fulton featured WaterSense labeled homes on its Facebook page and conducted an email campaign with 95,000 prospective home buyers and 36,000 real estate agents. In its communities, Fulton Homes displays large WaterSense flags to catch the attention of those driving near their model home. WaterSense messaging displays on rotating screens in its sales office, and representatives distribute WaterSense stickers to the children of potential home buyers when they visit the sales office.
Fulton Homes conducted in-person training for all sales and design staff on WaterSense labeled homes in 2019 to ensure all employees could describe the benefits of WaterSense labeled homes. Working closely with fellow WaterSense partner Energy Inspectors Corporation, Fulton is also working on developments where all the new homes will be WaterSense labeled, ENERGY STAR certified, and Indoor AirPLUS certified.
EXCELLENCE IN EDUCATION AND OUTREACH
The City of Allen earned its second WaterSense Excellence Award for Education and Outreach, educating residents on many different WaterSense campaigns including Fix a Leak Week, Your Better Bathroom, Sprinkler Spruce-Up, and Shower Better. The City promoted outdoor water efficiency and how easy it is to find irrigation professionals certified by a WaterSense labeled program in their area. Through the Block Leader program, 27 resident volunteers “adopted” over 1,000 homes and distributed door hangers to educate residents about WaterSense labeled products and tips to save water outdoors. The City of Allen’s Sustainable Landscape Series featured eight lectures on topics including landscape design and sprinkler repair that reached nearly 600 attendees. The City also worked with the local library to promote WaterSense campaigns and distribute educational materials to visitors. For Fix a Leak Week, the City handed out leak detective activity pages, worksheets, and bookmarks to all fifth graders in Allen Independent Schools. Additionally, the City of Allen’s H2Ome Improvement Rebate program provided incentives for more than 600 WaterSense labeled toilets and 300 WaterSense labeled irrigation controllers in 2019.
Hilton Head Public Service District (PSD) won its first WaterSense Award for Excellence in Education and Outreach. Hilton Head PSD promoted WaterSense campaigns such as Fix a Leak Week and Shower Better all year long on social media and in their e-newsletter, The Liquid Letter, in 2019; it also celebrated Hug a Plumber Day with water conservation messaging. Sprinkler Spruce-Up provided a great opportunity to educate residents about the importance of smart irrigation. The PSD used WaterSense promotional materials to remind its residential and commercial customers about a local law that limits landscape irrigation and requires rain sensors on irrigation systems. The PSD also partnered with Clemson University’s Cooperative Extension’s “Carolina Yards” program that promotes water-efficient and sustainable landscape practices, including the use of South Carolina native plants
Placer County Water Agency embraced water conservation campaigns in 2019, winning its first WaterSense Excellence Award in Education and Outreach. During Fix a Leak Week, Placer County partnered with a local high school to hold a mascot race, covered by the local news, between the high school’s Golden Eagle mascot and the Les Leaky character to promote the importance of finding and chasing down leaks. The Agency also partnered with local Eagle Scout candidates to turn a fire station’s yard into a fire- resistant, water-wise landscape of native plants. During summer, residents were encouraged through social media to “Water With the Weather” by installing WaterSense labeled weather-based irrigation controllers. The Agency displayed smart landscaping materials in local nurseries and irrigation supply stores during its “Lay the Groundwork for Water Savings” campaign and gave away nearly 400 yards of mulch to over 300 customers during its Mulch Mayhem event.
EXCELLENCE IN OUTREACH AND PROMOTING LABELED PRODUCTS
City of Durham Water Management undertook a variety of efforts in two different areas to achieve an Excellence Award in Outreach and Promoting Labeled Products. The City's “Where’s Wayne Wednesday” social media contest awarded WaterSense labeled showerheads and aerators to customers who correctly guessed their mascot's location in a posted image. Their five-part, “Wasting Wayne” miniseries on YouTube during Fix a Leak Week reached nearly 40,000 users on Facebook and Twitter, and the "Inside Look" show on a local television affiliate encouraged finding leaks and replacing fixtures with WaterSense labeled products to an audience of over 59,000 viewers. Durham Water Management also held its annual Conservation Clinic with The Home Depot and leveraged local Creek Week events, including Canines for Clean Water, to promote Fix a Leak Week. By the end of 2019, the City had issued 609 WaterSense labeled toilet rebates and distributed 337 WaterSense labeled showerheads during its water use assessments. Water efficiency kits, including showerheads and aerators, were also made available to residents to purchase for $3.
“The WaterSense program helps our customers easily identify and purchase efficient and high-performing water-saving products. Encouraging our customers to purchase these products is an important component of our water efficiency efforts in Cobb County. Our partnership with WaterSense provides benefits for both Cobb County citizens and our water resources.”
Cobb County Water System did double duty last year to win an Excellence Award in Outreach and Promoting Labeled Products. As Cobb County partnered with Lowe’s Home Improvement and The Home Depot to promote its WaterSense labeled toilet rebate program, county staff visited the stores to update materials and educate sales staff about WaterSense, resulting in 862 residential and 305 commercial toilet rebates in 2019. To promote Fix a Leak Week, Cobb County distributed WaterSense labeled aerators and leak detection tablets at the library and a local senior center. The utility also attended a number of community events, including several famers markets and local festivals. In May, Cobb County promoted Sprinkler Spruce-Up and gave residents flags labeled “Inspect, Direct, Connect” with instructions on how to assess and repair their landscape irrigation systems. The County hosted a lobby display to celebrate Better Bathrooms Month in October and distributed WaterSense labeled showerheads and aerators to customers. The utility also partnered with a local electricity provider on an Energy and Home Water Makeover project to replace old appliances and fixtures with WaterSense labeled models for a deserving family.
EXCELLENCE IN OUTREACH AND TRAINING
The Toro Company has continued its tradition of promoting WaterSense and water efficiency, winning another Excellence in Outreach and Training Award for its work in 2019. Throughout the year, Toro showcased its WaterSense labeled products at 35 home expos and trade shows, reaching several thousand homeowners and industry professionals. Toro conducted several training sessions in a variety of locations to educate attendees on water management trends, share best practices, demonstrate WaterSense labeled irrigation products, and provide hands-on product experience.
Toro once again sponsored the Irrigation Association’s E3 Program that provides scholarships to professional irrigation students; the program awarded students a record number of scholarships last year. The Toro Company also continued its sponsorship and production of the weekly WaterZone radio program focused on outdoor water efficiency best practices and products. Since the show has been available on iHeart Radio, it now has up to 19,000 listeners per month!
EXCELLENCE IN PROMOTING LABELED PRODUCTS
The City of Flagstaff Water Conservation Program won its first WaterSense Excellence Award for Promoting Labeled Products, thanks to a concerted effort to get residents and businesses to replace their old plumbing fixtures with more efficient models. The City offered rebates to both businesses and homeowners to encourage them to install WaterSense labeled toilets, showerheads, and faucet aerators. Nine businesses took advantage of the rebates and replaced over 500 toilets, 1,000 showerheads, and 3,200 aerators with WaterSense labeled models. Through its commercial rebate program, the City formed a relationship with one of the largest property management companies in Flagstaff and helped them retrofit outdated apartments with thousands of WaterSense labeled plumbing fixtures. To help businesses and homes identify fixtures they could upgrade to WaterSense labeled products, the City offered free water consultations and gave customers free faucet aerators and showerheads, in addition to over 100 residential rebates. In 2019, the City of Flagstaff also held 28 WaterSense-related events, which provided free labeled product giveaways and incentives for retrofits.
“With the help of WaterSense, we take an active role in educating the public about being efficient with their water use and giving them the tools and incentives to do so. MWDOC relies on WaterSense product testing and labeling for rebate programs and incentives; an invaluable service that is woven throughout MWDOC Water Use Efficiency Program fabric.”
The Municipal Water District of Orange County, California (MWDOC) earned its second WaterSense Excellence Award for Promoting WaterSense Labeled Products in three different consumer-based rebate programs. MWDOC’s Disadvantaged Communities Multi-Family High Efficiency Toilet Program provided property owners with a $200 rebate per toilet for replacing toilets that used over 3.5 gallons of water per flush with a WaterSense labeled model. In 2019, MWDOC helped property owners replace 1,125 toilets in local apartments through this program. MWDOC also provided homeowners, businesses, and public agencies with rebates for over 7,000 WaterSense labeled toilets and urinals, and more than 2,500 WaterSense labeled irrigation controllers. MWDOC promoted rebates for these devices through bill inserts and social media posts. To assess the effectiveness of WaterSense labeled controllers, MWDOC has conducted statistical water savings evaluations using participant water use data from its smart timer rebate program (before and after retrofit and comparison to the control group). The most recent study found that residential customers who installed WaterSense labeled irrigation controllers reduced household water use by an average of 50 gallons per day or 11 percent of total residential use.
The Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership in California has received its third WaterSense Excellence Award, this time for Excellence in Promoting Labeled Products. The Partnership had WaterSense on full display at its exhibit at the 2019 Sonoma County Fair. Sonoma-Marin’s interactive booth featured water-saving fixtures in a mock home. Signage throughout the booth showed visitors how much water they could save by switching to WaterSense labeled toilets, faucet aerators, and showerheads. The booth even had a working WaterSense labeled showerhead so visitors could actually see how it compared to a traditional model. In an effort to help people save water while at work, the Partnership created a series of bathroom door fliers with seasonal water conservation tips from WaterSense campaigns such as Fix a Leak Week and Sprinkler Spruce-Up in a pilot effort that reached more than 200 employees.
SUEZ North America - New York won its first WaterSense Excellence Award for Promoting Labeled Products, thanks to SUEZ New York’s consumer and commercial outreach and rebate programs in Rockland and Orange counties. In 2019, the water service company designed a booklet for commercial customers that highlighted the benefits of WaterSense labeled fixtures and offered rebates on labeled flushometer valve toilets, as well as high-efficiency pre-rinse spray valves for kitchens. SUEZ New York is committed to connecting with consumers in the community by promoting WaterSense on local radio shows and through their sponsorship of a minor league baseball team, the New York Boulders. During every local game, they hit the ball out of the park by airing a commercial about WaterSense labeled fixtures. Residential and multifamily customers can also get rebates from SUEZ New York on WaterSense labeled toilets, showerheads, and smart irrigation controllers; the company used a variety of creative advertising approaches throughout 2019 to promote them to consumers. Notably, in 2019 they debuted their conservation character “Bailey the Beaver,” who is not only nature’s engineer of the waterways, but a great team player at events reminding SUEZ customers of all ages to save water!
EXCELLENCE IN MULTIFAMILY OUTREACH AND WATER SCORE IMPROVEMENT
Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency won its first WaterSense Excellence Award, thanks to its efforts reaching out to multifamily buildings to improve their EPA Water Score. SCV Water used the EPA Water Score tool to collect water use data for nearly 80 percent of the multifamily complexes in the valley. Based on the EPA Water Score it generated for each complex, SCV Water targeted three properties that could achieve the most water-saving improvements and enlisted property management as partners. Contractors then conducted water efficiency check-ups, inspecting toilets for leaks and installing 1,800 showerheads and 2,600 aeratorsin the units’ bathrooms and kitchens. Each resident received a card describing the WaterSense labeled products and water-saving tips, and nearly 3,000 toilets were replaced in the first phase of the program, along with leak repairs. This initial effort saves an estimated 55 million gallons of water per year, and SCV Water planned to expand the program to other properties.
EXCELLENCE IN CERTIFICATION PROGRAM GROWTH
G3LA—also known as G3, Green Gardens Group—of Los Angeles won a WaterSense Excellence Award in Certification Program Growth as they continued to make training and certification more accessible to irrigation professionals. Attendees at G3’s professional training classes doubled between 2018 and 2019; over 90 students attended G3 trainings and 38 became certified Watershed Wise Landscape Professionals. The organization formed partnerships with municipalities, water agencies, and stormwater departments to expand its reach within and outside its California community. These partnerships allowed G3 to offer trainings at reasonable rates and promote certified professionals to property owners. G3 encouraged one of its partners, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, to take a watershed approach to landscaping, which increased the need for certified irrigation auditors with demonstrated knowledge of water efficiency and landscaping best practices.
EXCELLENCE IN BUILDER SUPPORT
A six-time WaterSense Award Winner, Energy Inspectors Corporation has again won a WaterSense Award for Excellence in Builder Support for making it possible for WaterSense builder partners to earn the WaterSense label for homes in Arizona, Nevada, and California. To help home builders meet WaterSense criteria, Energy Inspectors provides analyses showing what home features they may need to change to meet the WaterSense specification for homes. Energy Inspectors gets involved early in the planning process with builders, helping implement water-efficient designs into the initial home construction. In 2019, Energy Inspectors helped over 130 homes earn the WaterSense label in California alone, adding to the hundreds already certified by Energy Inspectors in multiple states. This year, Energy Inspectors supported first-time Partner of the Year Award winner Fulton Homes by certifying the builder’s first WaterSense labeled home. And a partnership of home builders and vendors completed a new concept home design that was certified net-zero-energy and WaterSense labeled; the home was shown to 65,000 attendees at the 2020 International Builders Show in Las Vegas, thanks to Energy Inspectors’ services.
Learn what previous WaterSense Partners of the Year have done to increase water efficiency and promote the WaterSense label within their respective partner categories.
- 2019 Sustained Excellence, and Partners of the Year winners' accomplishments (PDF)(7 pp, 1 MB, About PDF) Excellence Award winners' accomplishments (PDF)(3pp, 657 K, About PDF) - Photo Gallery
- 2018 Sustained Excellence, and Partners of the Year Winners' Accomplishments (PDF)(8 pp, 981 K, About PDF) Excellence Award Winners' Accomplishments (PDF) (3 pp, 657 K, About PDF) - Photo Gallery
- 2017 Sustained Excellence, and Partners of the Year Winners' Accomplishments (PDF)(7 pp, 2 MB, About PDF) Excellence Award Winners' Accomplishments (PDF)(4pp, 2 MB, About PDF) - Photo Gallery
- 2016 Sustained Excellence and Partner of the Year Award Winners Fact Sheet (PDF) (7 pp, 3MB) – 2016 Excellence Award Winners Fact Sheet (PDF) (4pp, 2MB) – Photo Gallery
- 2015 Award Winners (PDF)(8 pp, 2 MB) – Photo Gallery
- 2014 Award Winners (PDF)(7 pp, 2 MB)
- 2013 Award Winners (PDF)(6 pp, 2 MB)
- 2012 Award Winners (PDF)(5 pp, 1 MB)
- 2011 Partner of the Year Award Winners (PDF)(4 pp, 535 K)
- 2011 Excellence Award Winners (PDF)(1 pg, 101 K)
- 2010 Award Winners (PDF)(4 pp, 1 MB)
- 2009 Award Winners (PDF)(4 pp, 892 K)
- 2008 Award Winners (PDF)(2 pp, 857 K)