LAS VEGAS — The Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Dallas has been recognized with a 2014 WaterSense Excellence Award for Outreach and Education by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The center’s urban water team was honored recently at the WaterSmart Innovations Conference in Las Vegas for its commitment to water efficiency and its efforts to educate the public about the WaterSense program during 2013.
WaterSense, a partnership program sponsored by the EPA, seeks to protect the future of the nation’s water supply by offering people water-efficient products, homes and services. According to the EPA, since the program’s inception in 2006 WaterSense has helped consumers save 757 billion gallons of water and $14.2 billion on water and energy bills.
According to program administrators, through the WaterSense partnership more than 1,500 utility, manufacturer, retail, builder and organizational partners helped Americans save 271 billion gallons of water in 2013 alone. Every year, a select few are recognized for their significant program contributions.
“The EPA is pleased to honor this impressive group of WaterSense program leaders,” said Ken Kopocis, deputy assistant administrator in EPA’s Office of Water. “Their efforts to build strong, resilient water systems are helping communities nationwide meet challenges of extreme weather events, drought and other effects of our changing climate.”
The AgriLife center in Dallas was honored for their WaterSense Labeled Home Project and water conservation outreach programs.
According to Clint Wolfe, urban water program manager at the AgriLife center in Dallas, the center has a long history of providing research-based educational programs on water use efficiency, both indoors and out, within the region. Working with EPA Region 6, its WaterSense team and many local water providers and municipalities, the urban water team showcased the benefits of the EPA WaterSense program at the residential level by renovating and retrofitting an existing 1,500-square-foot home located on its campus.
“This would be the first WaterSense Labeled Home in the Dallas metroplex,” Wolfe said. “It would also be the only WaterSense Labeled Home open year-round to the general public strictly for educational and demonstration purposes of WaterSense-labeled products and their water use efficiency.”
Work began on the renovation project in January of 2013, with upgrades to the hot water system and plumbing to retrofit the 1980’s home. The inside was completely renovated utilizing green products, and the 6,850-square-foot landscape was revamped using hardscape, water-efficient turfgrass and planted beds.
The landscape showcases Palisades zoysia grass, a resource-efficient turfgrassdeveloped at the AgriLife center in Dallas. The grass uses 50 percent less water than other traditional turfgrasses.
“The irrigation system was designed to use a1,000 gallon rainwater harvesting system to supply water through drip irrigation on the property, thereby making the system almost 90 percent efficient and utilizing little to no potable water,” Wolfe said.
The grand opening of the WaterSense Labeled Home took place in March in conjunction with EPA’s Fix-A-Leak Week and in partnership with Dallas Water Utilities.
“The WaterSense Labeled Home serves as an excellent real-world demonstration of water efficient products, plant materials and rainwater harvesting for homeowners,”Wolfe said. “The home is also used weekly as a hands-on learning center for the educational classes that we offer.”
Wolfe said in 2013 the AgriLife Urban Water Program conducted 243 water-efficiency classes, reaching more than 12,000 individuals. It also provided 22 regional outreach events to more than 500,000 individuals, as well as hosting 26 professional trainings for landscape and irrigation industry personnel and conducting 86 youth programs in the Dallas metroplex. In addition, the urban water team constructed 4,800 rain barrels through the “Saving from a Rainy Day” class, saving an estimated 7.6 million gallons of potable water from being used on urban landscapes.
For more information on the AgriLife center in Dallas and urban water efforts, go to: https://dallas.tamu.edu/hot-topics/water/urban-water-program/ .
To learn more about the 2014 WaterSense Partner of the Year awards program, go to: www.epa.gov/watersense.