Water conservation labelling scheme extends reach

Posted 6 March 2017

Washing dishes in the kitchenThe Smart WaterMark scheme (SAWM), which labels water savings products and services, is extending its range to include products that improve water efficiency.
SAWM was jointly established by the Australian Water Association, Water Services Association of Australia, Nursery and Garden Industry Association, and Irrigation Australia in 2004. Since then it has only labelled products and services that demonstrate water savings.
“Recently, more companies have used improvements in water efficiency in their applications for the mark,” said Chair of the Expert Panel Jeremy Cape, which evaluates applications.
In response, the panel reviewed the definitions of water saving and water efficiency and recommended to the scheme’s steering committee that the range of products that could be licensed should be extended.
“The committee accepted our recommendation, as it provides clarity to applicants and retains the key purpose of the scheme,” said Cape.
Cape explained that water-saving products and services are those that do the same job but use less water; for example, some rain tank diverters substitute rain water for treated water, resulting in a saving of potable water. By contrast, a product that improves water efficiency might use the same amount of water but deliver a better outcome.
As well as extending the range of products that can be licensed under SAWM, last year it added another service to help water conservation. An online portal, Smart Water Advice, has been developed to help smaller water utilities provide a range of water saving advice to consumers. So far, 43 councils have subscribed to the service in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.
The scheme is not only proving successful in Australia but also in the UK, where it has recently been adopted by Waterwise UK to label products and services sold in national and European market.
“The scheme has been able to expand partly because our evidence review process enables us to keep up to date with new products,” Cape said. 

“We are not tied to specific Australian or international standards, like the WELS scheme, so we are able to review applications submitted by companies in support of very new products. 
“Our aim is to save water and ensure that it is used in the most efficient way, and these initiatives all assist in doing this.”

The Water Services Association of Australia will present a panel at the upcoming Ozwater'17 Conference on how the Smart Approved WaterMark is broadening the remit.