The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense program this month recognized the Metropolitan Council with an Excellence in Promoting WaterSense Labeled Products Award. The award honors our Water Efficiency Grant Program and community outreach through the “turfgrass trailer.”
“Water is the foundation of our region’s prosperity,” said Peter Lindstrom, chair of the Met Council’s Environment Committee. “While we have a relatively abundant supply of water, we must be good stewards of this precious resource. Our changing climate and recent trend of droughts make this clearer than ever.”
In 2022, the Met Council awarded water efficiency grants to 37 cities, who in turn offered rebates to residents for replacing older toilets, irrigation controllers, and spray sprinkler bodies with WaterSense-labeled alternatives. In total, 1,140 toilets, 839 irrigation controllers, and 196 spray sprinkler bodies were replaced in homes around the region in 2022.
We also funded 80 irrigation audits performed by WaterSense-certified professionals. By replacing toilets, irrigation controllers, and spray sprinklers with WaterSense-labeled models, the average family can reduce water use by nearly 13,000, 15,000, and 50,500 gallons per year, respectively. The estimated total annual water savings from these activities was nearly 36 million gallons for projects funded in 2022.
“The WaterSense label gets people to think about water use when they make product choices,” said Henry McCarthy, environmental scientist at the Met Council. “The label makes it easy for residents to make decisions that support water efficiency and reduce water costs.”
The Met Council created the water efficiency grant program in 2015 – backed by funding through the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment – to help communities reduce water consumption and future infrastructure costs. We’ve given out three rounds of grants to local governments since the start of the program totaling $2.5 million. The 2023 Minnesota Legislature allocated funding to create a fourth round of grants for July 2024 to June 2026.
In addition, the Irrigation Efficiency Educational Trailer, aka the turfgrass trailer, promoted WaterSense-labeled irrigation controllers and visited 14 neighborhoods, fairs, and events, including the Minnesota State Fair in the last year. The trailer is a partnership between the Met Council and the University of Minnesota Extension’s Turfgrass Science program.
WaterSense is an EPA-sponsored program with more than 2,100 utility, manufacturer, retail, builder, and other organizational partners promoting water-efficient products, homes, and programs to consumers and businesses across the country.