America names water efficiency stars

New York's water-friendly funeral directors who had managed to radically cut the water used in embalming were among the winners of America's new water efficiency awards, presented this week.

The United States recognised the need for leadership by example on water efficiency with the Water Efficiency Leader (WEL) awards as pressure on water resources across the country increase.

US population nearly doubled in the last 50 years while water use more than tripled -the US Environmental Protection Agency has said.

The New York state association of funeral directors won the title of "water efficiency stars" in the 'team' category for their work on promoting a technology that allows the amount of water used in embalming to be cut from around 120 gallons a time to 5 gallons.

Other winners included everything from an extensive programme to cut water waste in Las Vegas, Nevada, to a water-friendly mobile carwash company in Seattle.

Southern Nevada water authority's "water smart" programme won applause from the judges for its combination of "aggressive education" on water efficiency, positive incentives and progressive policies.

"These water efficiency stars are shining examples of cooperative conservation and innovative technology. EPA salutes these leaders for helping America save water, money, and energy for families and communities," said Benjamin H. Grumbles, the EPA's assistant administrator for water.

The EPA recognises demographic shifts and aging water infrastructure as additional pressures on America's water resources. The scale of the problem was highlighted when severe drought hit the central part of the country in the early autumn (see related story, ravaging crops and depriving cattle of pasture.

The WEL awards, which aim to "foster a nationwide ethic of water efficiency," inspire, motivate and reward best practice, form part of a wider water conservation programme that includes a product labelling scheme and a national water efficiency bureau.

Goska Romanowicz



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