11 Reasons to Conserve Water

Feb. 13, 2006

There are 11 key reasons for water utilities to pursue wise water use and establish a water conservation program, according to a report issued by the American Water Works

There are 11 key reasons for water utilities to pursue wise water use and establish a water conservation program, according to a report issued by the American Water Works Association (www.awwa.org). AWWA says the specific reasons will be different for each utility, and the appropriate level of conservation for a utility should be tailored to local needs. The 10 items highlighted by AWWA are:

  1. Cost savings — Lowering water production and/or distribution costs will save the utility and its constituents money in reduced operation cost and possibly deferred capital costs. Conservation is often an important part of a least-cost future water supply plan.
  2. Wastewater treatment and disposal benefits — Reduction of interior water use cuts wastewater flows, resulting in cost savings and lessened environmental impacts of treated wastewater disposal.
  3. Environmental benefits — Water removed from a water body for human use could be used for environmental or other purposes. For example, protection of endangered species often requires a reliable source of good quality water, which might be lessened by water withdrawals.
  4. Competing beneficial uses — In addition to the environment, water left in place could be used for agriculture, power production, recreation, aesthetic enjoyment, etc.
  5. Water supply limitations — Few places now enjoy unlimited water supplies. Water conservation can stretch existing supplies, whether supply is from groundwater or surface water.
  6. Utility stewardship and sustainability — Utilities that conserve water demonstrate leadership in resource management and are working toward a goal of sustainability. More economic activity can occur on the same water resource.
  7. Energy savings — Reducing water production will save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  8. Improved supply reliability — Conservation can reduce the frequency and duration of drought water use curtailments by essentially increasing supply.
  9. Customer benefits — Customers who conserve water may enjoy lower water bills and possibly lower wastewater and energy bills.
  10. Regulatory compliance — Some state regulatory agencies require water conservation plans and/or implementation progress to qualify for permits, grants, and loans.
  11. Public perception — The public often insists on demonstrating efficient use of existing water supplies before supporting expansion of supplies to meet new water needs.

According to AWWA, conservation of precious water resources requires action both from water suppliers and water consumers. Water utilities must reduce loss from leaking pipes and consumers must reduce consumption. Below is a list of publication AWWA suggests to help utilities and consumers make the most of their water conservation efforts.

Water Conservation Programs — A Planning Manual (M52)
This new manual is a total planning guide for a city water utility that wishes to develop a water conservation program. It provides guidance in conservation techniques, conservation rate structures, cost-benefit calculations and analysis, gaining support, overcoming obstacles, program implementation, staffing, ongoing management, and monitoring effectiveness.
$93 list (AWWA members $63). No. 30052.

Water Audits and Leak Detection (M36)
A properly executed distribution system water audit and leak detection program is the most effective way for your utility to conserve water, save money, and increase revenues. This AWWA manual of water supply practice provides step-by-step guidance for setting up such a program.
$88 list. (AWWA members $58). No. 30036.

Water Loss Control Manual
Of the 40 billion gallons of water that U.S. water utilities process every day, 6 billion gallons, or 15%, disappear through leaks and other unaccounted losses. Lost water is lost revenue. This book will show you how to reduce and control your water system losses.
$100 list . No. 20511.

Conserve Everyday
Kids learn ways to save water at home in this fast-paced educational video for grades 4 – 8.
$75 list. (AWWA members $50). No. 65229.

Water Conservation and Efficient Use
Show your water customers this video and they will learn valuable conservation techniques for inside and outside their homes, including Xeriscape. They also learn why water conservation is so important for the long-term health of their water supplies.
$295 list. (AWWA members $195). VHS-No. 65261. DVD-No. 64261.

25 Things You Can Do To Prevent Water Waste
Nine in the bathroom, six in the kitchen, and ten outside–25 ways to prevent water waste are given in this colorful bill-stuffer/handout.
$0.43 list ( AWWA members $0.31). Minimum order 30. No. 70013.

Landscaping to Save Water
This colorful bill stuffer/handout explains the seven principles of Xeriscape — landscaping using beautiful native plants that use little water.
$0.43 list. (AWWA members $0.31). Minimum order 30. No. 70007

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