Building Safety Month: Week Three

Securing clean, abundant water for all communities

WEEK THREE // May 13–19, 2019

Building Safety Month: Week Three

Securing clean, abundant water for all communities

WEEK THREE // May 13–19, 2019

Clean water is the world’s most precious commodity. The World Health Organization estimates 844 million people lack basic drinking-water service. Building, plumbing and green codes help guard this precious commodity for future generations through proper construction, conservation and safe disposal.

Code officials are vigilant protectors of our water supply. Because of their dedicated service, you can turn on the tap in your home and draw sufficient, clean water. They take nothing for granted, so you can.

As a homeowner or renter, you need to pay attention to the water supply to your home even if your community offers water and sewage treatment. If there are faulty or no backflow protectors in your home, cross-contamination can happen even while residents are filling their backyard swimming pools, drawing some of the pool’s chlorine into the home.

In Episode Seven of the ICC Pulse Podcast, the Code Council's Senior Director of PMG Resources Lee Clifton speaks with backflow prevention specialist Bruce Rathburn about plumbing cross-connection control programs. Rathburn is the past president of his local chapter of the American Backflow Prevention Association (ABPA) and the immediate past president of ABPA International. Click here to listen to the podcast.

Water Efficiency

Water conservation and efficiency has become increasingly important in recent years due to water scarcity, droughts and water contamination in many areas of the world.

In the United States, California droughts fostered water conservation rules, based in part on irrigation standards developed by the International Code Council. Regulations included using drought-tolerant plants on lawns for new homes with more than 500 square feet of landscaped area, and limiting turf grass to 25 percent of landscaping, down from a third.

The Code Council and the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) have partnered on a new water ratings standard, known as HERSH20, that builders can use in the U.S. to evaluate and market a home’s water usage efficiency. Real estate agents are beginning to take notice of the value of such water efficiency ratings, not just in California, but in other areas where potable water may be a concern. HERSH20 guidelines are currently being field tested by various national production builders.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) WaterSense Program is a major water efficiency initiative based in the U.S. This important initiative was developed to help consumers identify water efficient products that meet EPA’s criteria for efficiency and performance. Since its creation in 2006, WaterSense has conserved more than 2.7 trillion gallons of water and saved American families $63.8 billion in water and energy bills, according to the EPA. WaterSense has also helped reduce the amount of energy needed to heat, pump and treat water by 367 billion kilowatt hours, which is equivalent to a year’s worth of power for more than 34.1 million U.S. homes. ICC Evaluation Service (ICC-ES), a member of the ICC Family of Companies and an industry leader in technical evaluations of building products, is an EPA licensed certifier. To learn more about ICC-ES WaterSense Programs, click here.

Swimming Pool and Backyard Safety

During warm weather seasons, homeowners and renters should take the time to check their outdoor areas for potential safety hazards. Proper inspections now can help to keep your family and friends safe in the future.

Nationally, drowning is a leading cause of death for children under the age of five. Practice constant, adult supervision around any body of water, including pools and spas. And, if you're considering a swimming pool purchase, contact your local Building Department first to determine exactly what permits are needed and what requirements you must follow.

The Code Council supports drowning prevention and has a close partnership with the National Drowning Prevention Alliance (NDPA).

Pool Safely is a national public education campaign that works with partners around the country, including the Code Council, to reduce child drownings and entrapments in swimming pools and spas. Take the pledge and get a free pool safety kit.

Additional Information and Resources

ARTICLE Water Conservation and Restroom Design

INFO   Just the Facts: Legionella and Water Supply Systems

FACT SHEET  How to make your water safer to drink

PUBLICATION   FEMA P-348, Protecting Building Utility Systems from Flood Damage