John Mesenbrink
Bob Bowcock talks incentivization during the wrap-up panel discussion.

8th Biennial Emerging Water Technology Symposium Brings Water Discussion to the Desert

June 26, 2024
This year’s EWTS featured thought-provoking conversations relating to water conservation, quality and scarcity, and what action plans could be implemented to ensure safe and sufficient drinking water for generations to come.

SCOTTSDALE, AZ — Every two years, a meeting of water conscious, like-minded individuals travel to a water technology Mecca of sorts to discuss water conservation, efficiency and use. This year’s Emerging Water Technology Symposium (EWTS)—co-convened through International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO), American Society of Plumbing Engineers (ASPE), and Plumbing Manufacturers International (PMI)—put water front and center.

When talking water scarcity coupled with water conservation techniques, Scottsdale was the perfect backdrop for water everything, magnified. The two-day event kicked off with a keynote from Sarah Porter, Director, Kyl Center for Water Policy at Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy; Professor of Practice in ASU’s College of Global Futures, who reiterated that, “Conservation needs to be linked to a desired outcome to make it work,” when talking about water use in Arizona, the lack of annual precipitation in the Phoenix area, and the overburdening of the Colorado River, for example. 

Porter also spun some facts regarding outdoor water use in the Phoenix area: grass yards and pools account for more than 70% of household water use. Having said that, more than 90% of the water used indoors in Arizona is treated and recycled. And yet, something I still have trouble wrapping my head around is that with the recent population boom of 555% in the Phoenix, water use has actually gone down 3%. Say what?! Mind blowing when you really think about it, right? The reason? Less agricultural and more residential use. 

Throughout day one of the symposium, attendees listened to high-level conversations regarding water scarcity and how to achieve better water efficiencies. Among other topics, they learned more about WaterSense, PFAS and the unintended consequences of reduced flow rates. Here are some snapshots of a few of the presentations.

Goodyear Case Study

Andrew Pirrone, Water Conservation Coordinator, City of Goodyear, Ariz., and Joe Fazio, Vice President of Enterprise Solutions, Flume Water, a manufacturer of water monitoring and leak detection systems, presented a case study “close to home,” which saw the city of Goodyear partner with Flume Water to tackle water issues head on. The city faced a severe 15-year drought affecting more than three million residents, prompting innovative water conservation initiatives.

In 2022, Goodyear partnered with Flume to distribute water monitors to residents, offering real-time insights through a mobile app that detailed indoor and outdoor water use, appliances, and fixtures. The program’s success was notable, with a 14.6% reduction in residents’ water consumption, saving an average of 14,000 gallons per household annually.

ARCSA International

The conservation talk pivoted to rainwater harvesting where David Crawford, CEO, Rainwater Management Solutions, The American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association (ARCSA) International, talked about the movement toward harvesting different on-site waters sources, and emphasized water reuse for future generations, “How are we going to conserve enough water for our kids and grandkids,” asked Crawford.

WaterSense Update

Next, wouldn’t it be cool if every American home was WaterSense labeled? suggested Jonah Schein, National Program Manager for Homes & Buildings, WaterSense EPA. Schein highlighted the Oak Shade and Durango communities in Menifee, Calif., where these WaterSense Labeled homes there save energy and support decarbonization.

As part of its commitment to energy and water efficiency, as well as climate resiliency, KB Home launched two communities—Oak Shade and Durango—comprised of more than 200 all-electric, solar-powered, WaterSense labeled homes in Menifee. Designed to be both energy and water efficient, the homes use 40 percent less energy and at least 30 percent less water than typical new construction, feature solar panels, and are backed by a microgrid community battery to reduce dependence on the conventional electrical grid.

Egg Geo

Continuing on, did you know cooling towers in commercial buildings are the number two consumer of potable water in buildings in the United States? Jay Egg, President, Egg Geo, LLC, offered that the elimination of freshwater consumption from cooling tower use can be accomplished through geothermal exchange methods.

 PFAS Reports

There was much talk about PFAS: PFOA and PFOS, which are two per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances—PFOA or perfluoroactonoic acid and PFOS or perfluorooctanesulfonic acid. Where does this water nuisance come from? Non-stick coatings, fire-fighting foams, packaging, clothing, carpet, biosolids, and much more. 

Two presentations highlighted this ever-popular acronym, which has been brought into today’s worrisome water lexicon more recently. The first, Neal Megonnell, Vice President of Technical Services, AqueoUS Vets, talked about California’s Yorba Linda’s Water District that installed the largest ion exchange PFAS removal water treatment plant in the United States. The district was one of 11 groundwater producers whose wells had low levels of Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS).

The other, Eric Yeggy, Technical Affairs Director, Water Quality Association, talked about point-of-use (POU) and point-of-entry (POE) water treatment technologies, which can remove PFAS from drinking water. The POU treatment includes pitcher and countertop filters, faucet-attached devices, under-sink and refrigerator filters and reverse osmosis systems. The POE systems include anion exchange and whole-house filtration.

Urine Harvesting

One of the more thought-provoking presentations was from Pat Lando, Executive Director, Recode, and John Lansing, Plumbing Designer, PAE. They talked about urine recycling as a solution to decarbonizing both cities and agriculture. In other words, taking one’s pee for agricultural use depicted in a real case study application at Lansing’s employer, the PAE building in Portland, Ore. This “circular sanitation” is a paradigm shift from the high-carbon, high-cost sewer and wastewater treatment approach. This approach can be successfully implemented in regions with high levels of infrastructure development, such as downtown Portland, Oregon and regions with low levels of infrastructure development.

Unintended Consequences

Mary Ann Dickinson, Dickinson Associates, and Pete DeMarco, IAPMO, discussed the unintended consequences of indoor water efficiency and what those risks might be for diminished returns and rising water utility bills, as state regulators everywhere consider further reducing plumbing flow rates in codes and standards. “You never want to compromise water quality with water conservation,” says Dickinson.

Panel Discussion

The EWTS wrap-up conversation featured a roundtable panel with Dr. Tim Bartrand, ESPRI; Bob Bowcock, IRM; Amin Delagah, TRC; Christoph Lohr, IAPMO; Dr. Molly Scanlon, University of Arizona. A culmination of the past two days at EWTS, the topic was what should the next steps be after digesting all of the information presented on water use, conservation and efficiency? One of the takeaways from this discussion was how do we incentivize water use? Could residents get some sort of mortgage reduction or tax break by conserving water?

And Much More

EWTS offered many more presentations over the two-day networking event, including presentations: Premise Plumbing Materials and Opportunistic Premise Plumbing Pathogen Growth by Abraham Cullom, PhD, Special Pathogens Laboratory, a Pace® Laboratory; and Building Water Commissioning: Tools for Establishing Safe, Efficient, and Sustainable Water Management Programs by Dr. Molly Scanlon, PhD, FAIA, FACHA, Research Associate, University of Arizona.

And, finally, did you know that 60% of Americans don’t trust their tap water, and 60 million Americans don’t even drink tap water? This nugget came from the Day 2 keynote: Water: Innovation in Decentralized and Extreme Decentralized Technologies by Will Sarni, Founder and CEO of Water Foundry; Founder and General Partner of Water Foundry Ventures.

For more information on the 2024 EWTS, and the full lineup of presentations from this past event, visit

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