Public Policy Issues


WaterSense is a voluntary, public-private partnership program sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. WaterSense works to protect the future of national water supplies by promoting water-efficient products, practices and professionals.

Policy issues related to WaterSense include:

  • Program authorization and funding.
  • Incentives for water-efficient products and services.
  • Specifications for new homes.

The Irrigation Association actively supports WaterSense labeling of certification programs for irrigation professionals and products.

Current Advocacy Efforts

In President Trump’s proposed federal budget for fiscal year 2018 (Oct. 1, 2017 – September 30, 2018), the WaterSense program is recommended for full elimination. However, several bills have been introduced in Congress that would authorize WaterSense as a program within the EPA. The IA is actively working to protect WaterSense through grassroots activities and outreach to the Administration and Congress.

Senators Tom Udall (D-NM) and Rob Portman (R-OH) introduced a WaterSense authorization bill in August. The Water Efficiency Improvement Act of 2017 strictly focuses on authorization. While other bills authorizing WaterSense have been introduced, we see S. 1700 as the only bill with any legs in the current Congress.

IA members can participate in advocacy and outreach efforts through the IA’s legislative action center.

Congressional Authorization of the WaterSense Program

With WaterSense currently under the threat of elimination, congressional authorization of this successful program remains a key priority of the Irrigation Association. So far in 2017, several pieces of legislation have been introduced that include WaterSense authorization. The IA will continue to monitor these bills and other legislative activities related to WaterSense. The IA will also continue to conduct outreach to Congress in support of the WaterSense program.

WaterSense works to protect our nation’s water resources by promoting water-efficient products, practices and professionals. The IA collaborated with the EPA to create this voluntary program and is proud to be the first and longest-serving certifying partner of WaterSense. In recognition of this working partnership, the IA is working to get support behind the bill and already sent a letter to the bill sponsor.

Read a past IA letter of support for WaterSense authorization.

Irrigation Product Labeling

The Irrigation Association SWAT Initiative is a national partnership initiative of water purveyors and irrigation industry representatives created to promote landscape water use efficiency through the application of state-of-the-art irrigation technologies. SWAT develops testing protocols, which are then provided to the WaterSense program. WaterSense uses the SWAT protocols as the basis for their specifications for irrigation products.

Learn more about the IA activities to develop WaterSense product labeling.

WaterSense Incentives

Similar to rebates available to agricultural producers who implement more efficient irrigation systems and machines for on-farm use through USDA’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program, the Irrigation Association actively supports incentives for consumers who invest in efficient irrigation products and services that carry the WaterSense label.

Learn more about current rebates available that are associated with the WaterSense label.

Learn more about IA activities to support WaterSense incentives.

WaterSense Homes Specification

In December 2009, EPA released the final version of its voluntary WaterSense specification for newly constructed single-family homes and townhomes. The specification defines criteria for indoor and outdoor water-use efficiency that new homes must meet to qualify for the WaterSense label.

The final specification was shaped by contentious industry debate, kicked off when EPA released its first draft in May 2008. Between the release of the initial and final specifications, IA proactively engaged our members, green industry organizations and WaterSense program leadership to advocate for science-based criteria for landscape water efficiency.

IA welcomes and supports positive changes from earlier drafts, including:

  • A more realistic, 0.65 distribution uniformity audit requirement.
  • Requirements that irrigation systems be designed or installed and audited by WaterSense-certified professionals.
  • Allowances for turfgrass (in addition to other vegetation) on slopes that exceed four feet of horizontal run per one foot of vertical rise.

IA continues to oppose prescriptive elements of the final specification that lack sound scientific support, including a 40-percent turf limitation on a new, single-family home’s landscapable area. The association will continue to engage WaterSense leadership to ensure advances in industry technologies and practices are incorporated in future iterations.

The association is committed to helping IA-member WaterSense partners take advantage of business opportunities associated with the new homes program, including developing education programs to help homebuilders and irrigation professionals meet spec requirements.

Learn more about IA activities related to the WaterSense homes spec.