Orme, Tenn. — While the City of Atlanta has been in the news for having less than a three month supply of water available, this tiny town in southwest Tennessee has virtually run out of water. The town shut off its water pumps and was only making water available from the town's water tower for three hours a day. And that water had to be trucked in from Alabama.

The situation in Orme is improving greatly thanks to a volunteer effort by plumbing manufacturers to help residents plug leaks and reduce water consumption.

Mayor Tony Reames of Orme, Tenn., has a strong message for drought starved cities. Fix the leaky toilets, faucets and install water control fixtures before they run out of water.

In a campaign approved by the Mayor and City Council called Save the Water Race, volunteers from companies across the nation along with local businesses and residents installed water-saving fixtures for this town of only 145 residents. Left with only three hours of water per day by the severe Southeast drought, Orme fought back.

“We were in a water crisis and we had to act to stop the leaks, but we never imagined we could save over 140 gallons per household per day,” Reames said. “In one day we went from three hours of water usage to 12 hours, and we still had water in the community tower. Orme has proven any town can save a lot of water without requiring lifestyle changes inside the home.”

The water-saving effort was spearheaded by Robert Easter, CEO of H2O Guard Inc., Austin, Texas. Seven other major plumbing manufacturers and suppliers donated new fixtures or services for every home, with the support and coordination of the Plumbing Manufacturers Institute.

“Obviously, we can't replace the water that is no longer there. But we can give the residents the tools they need to conserve their water supply in the future when it is replenished,” said Barbara C. Higgens, executive director of PMI.

“What these companies did is truly remarkable,” Reames said. “It was like a whirlwind. From Green materials to water saving products they showed up ready to go. Our community did our part by opening our homes, having things ready for the installers and providing lunch by Peoples Bank.”

During the “race,” volunteers replaced 12 toilets that had been using an average of more than 4.0-gpf and leaking about 100 gal. per day each. A total of 80 toilets were replaced in the town. Volunteers also replaced 67 showerheads and 139 aerators or sinks. Many of the old showerheads used more than 3.5-GPM.

Brass Craft Mfg. Co. provided state-of-the-art shut-off valves and connectors to provide protection from future leaks. Delta Faucet Co. donated showerheads designed to use 36% less water and faucet aerators that use 32% less. Gerber Plumbing 1.6 gpf toilets were installed along with Bemis seats made of recycled materials. H2O Guard Inc. supplied new Fill-0-Meter valves that measure the exact amount of water to fill the tank, maintains future flush settings and stops leaks immediately. Global Dehumidification Solutions Inc. teamed up with Steamatic to document leaks that existed prior to the new installations and provided clean up.

In addition to their charitable and humanitarian assistance in this situation, the broader PMI membership is working toward the goal of water conservation and efficiency, as well as fulfilling the industry's commitment to promoting public health and resource-efficient products. Earlier this year, as part of proposed legislation in California, PMI drafted a market transition plan to mandate the use of High Efficiency Toilets and Urinals. AB 715, authored by John Laird and sponsored by PMI, was signed into law by Governor Schwarzenegger last month.

The focus on environmental and sustainability efforts will be realized early next year via a public website www.safeplumbing.com, which will share success stories, provide relevant consumer information and dispel some of the common myths about plumbing.

“Promoting water conservation is a big part of our mission at PMI,” said Higgens. “Helping the people of Orme allows us to support that mission in a very real way.”