Water Efficiency Goal Guidance

Water Efficiency Definitions
A clear understanding of water efficiency definitions is very helpful in complying with the water-reduction goals of E.O. 13514. See section 3.0 of Federal Agency Implementation of Water Efficiency and Management Provisions of Executive Order 13514 for key definitions.

The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) issued water efficiency goal guidance in Federal Agency Implementation of Water Efficiency and Management Provisions of Executive Order 13514. This comprehensive document establishes guidelines for Federal agencies in meeting the water-related requirements of Executive Order (E.O.) 13514 and includes information about baseline development, reporting requirements, and strategies for implementing water efficiency and reuse1.

Potable Water Consumption Intensity Reduction

E.O. 13423 established quantifiable potable water reduction requirements for Federal agencies and required that, beginning in fiscal year (FY) 2008, Federal agencies must reduce potable water consumption intensity through life cycle cost-effective measures relative to the agency's FY 2007 baseline potable water consumption by 2% annually through the end of FY 2015 or 16% total by the end of FY 2015. E.O. 13514 extends the annual 2% reduction in potable water consumption intensity to FY 2020, thereby requiring a total reduction of 26%.

Industrial, Landscaping, and Agricultural Water Reduction

In addition to the potable water consumption intensity reduction, E.O. 13514 also establishes specific water reduction requirements for industrial, landscaping, and agricultural (ILA) water consumption, which is a 2% volumetric reduction based on an FY 2010 baseline. The intent is to expand the water reduction of Federal agencies to include freshwater consumption beyond potable water. The ILA-water category is distinct from the potable-water category. Federal agencies are required to track these water uses separately and should not double count potable and ILA water uses.

Per Federal Agency Implementation of Water Efficiency and Management Provisions of Executive Order 13514, Federal agencies should track and report ILA water for applications that meet the following criteria:

  • The water use meets the definition of industrial, landscaping, or agricultural water, and

  • The water use is not currently tracked in the potable FY 2007 baseline and subsequent annual potable water reports, and

  • The water used for industrial, landscaping, and agricultural activities occurs at a Federal facility, and

  • The water use is not considered "non-consumptive."

The purpose of these criteria is to eliminate reporting overlap and preclude the need for agencies to change their FY 2007 potable water use baseline. Typically, ILA water is from non-potable freshwater sources, such as surface and groundwater. For example, a golf course that is irrigated with non-potable well water should be included in the ILA water category. Another example of ILA water is cooling tower make-up from surface water that is not reported as potable water. Applications that use water sourced from alternative water should not be included in the ILA water category.

Alternative water (also termed "alternate water") offsets the use of fresh surface and groundwater and includes sources such as harvested rainwater, gray water, air cooling condensate, and reject water from water processes.

1 This document supersedes documents prepared to address water related goals of Executive Order 13423: Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management, including instruction provided in relevant parts of Section VI in Instructions for Implementing Executive Order 13423, issued by the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) on August 3, 2007.