Washington, D.C., Oct. 9 -- The first EPA WaterSense Partners of the Year were announced, with the winners including Kohler, a leading plumbing fixture and fitting manufacturer, and Ferguson, one of the largest wholesale distributors of plumbing supplies in the United States. "These water stars are helping WaterSense transform the way Americans view and value our most precious liquid asset and, as a result, we are saving more and wasting less for future generations," said Benjamin H. Grumbles, the EPA's assistant administrator for water, in a statement.

A partnership launched in 2006, WaterSense seeks to protect the U.S. water supply by offering people simple ways to use less water. In addition to Kohler and Ferguson, two other two WaterSense program partners earned a special distinction from the EPA: 

  • Irrigation Partner of the Year: Timothy Malooly
    Timothy Malooly is a WaterSense irrigation partner and president of two Minnesota-based irrigation firms: Irrigation Consultants & Control and Irrigation By Design.

  • Promotional Partner of the Year: The Saving Water Partnership
    The Saving Water Partnership is a collaboration between Seattle Public Utilities and 17 participating local water utilities.

According to the EPA, the 2008 Partners of the Year helped advance the WaterSense mission by demonstrating creativity and collaboration, including promoting water efficiency in New York City's Times Square and the Minnesota Zoological Garden. Three of the winners also worked together to educate plumbers and consumers on the benefits of WaterSense-labeled products.

In 2007, the 1,000 WaterSense partners were responsible producing, selling, or promoting more than 193,400 WaterSense-labeled products, which saved more than 277 million gallons of water, the EPA said in a statement.