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If a utility could only do one thing for water efficiency...
Peter Mayer
Posted: Thursday, January 15, 2009 11:24 AM
Joined: 10/3/2008
Posts: 22


If a water utility could do just one thing to improve water efficiency in their service area what would it be?

HETs for all? Total Xeriscape conversion? Elimination of system losses?

My vote would be to implement a water budget-based rate structure for all customers.  An effective, fair price signal is essential to achieving water savings.

I'm sure others have different ideas on this.  What would you choose?



Nora Mullarkey
Posted: Saturday, January 17, 2009 3:28 PM
Joined: 1/17/2009
Posts: 2


For a growing utility, limit the amount of irrigated landscape in new development, although that may be politically sensitive to some.  But the landscape is what seems to drive up water use, particularly peak water use.

Our utility does not have ordinance-making ability, but has included this in new utility services agreements.  The subdivision is required to include in its restrictive covenants or deed restrictions that irrigated landscape is limited to 2.5 times the footprint of the home, or 12,000 sq feet.  This sounds like alot, but we have subdivisions with 1-3 acre lots. 

Mandating a no-more than twice per week water schedule is a great way to limit outdoor use for both existing and new customers.


Andrew Funk
Posted: Sunday, January 18, 2009 12:20 PM
Joined: 1/17/2009
Posts: 3


“If a water utility could”

Yep. To me this is the key part of this question. It leads me to wonder, if a water utility can’t, then why? And what can be done to enable it?

Local and regional surface and groundwater scarcity in the coming decades has profound implications for National economic growth and prosperity, environmental sustainability, conflict aversion and ultimately National water security. Clearly a high level of local adaptive capacity to 21st Century anticipated water supply shortages should be considered an asset to local, state and the Federal Gov. Since water use efficiency is the easiest, fastest and most cost effective adaptation strategy, then I question why individual water utilities are discussed as if they alone are responsible for ensuring water efficiency.

 What (collectively) can be done at the Federal, state and local government levels to enable water utilities to improve efficient use of public water supplies?  

 With all that said, possibly another question could be tossed about. For example, if a water utility were empowered to improve water efficiency in its service area, what funding mechanisms, statutes and ordinances would it need to actually implement the change?


George F.
Posted: Tuesday, January 20, 2009 12:02 PM
Joined: 1/20/2009
Posts: 5


Conservation oriented rates have limits to their value. Most consumers hardly pay attention and significant response to "pricing signals" as the economists like to call it is limited. A complex water budget oriented rate structure will just confuse and anger the majority of users. Small utility officials don't even understand it and can't effectively implement it.

A much more direct and permanent savings measure is to reduce system water loss. Can you believe there are still people that think 15% simple loss is OK? With most new systems consisting of plastic pipes and with better meter technologies, there is no reason you can't keep more of that precious stuff within the system.


Johannes Buckle
Posted: Wednesday, March 4, 2009 2:35 AM
Joined: 3/3/2009
Posts: 8


I have been in IWRM/WDM for 15 years. To implement efficiency and WDM there are 4 things pertinent: Technical measures Financial measures Legislative and regulative measures Social awareness and education. Not one of the above will be effective on its own. Engineers (I am one) are not au fait with marketing and communication - take the people (consumers) with you. Trust them for their opinion, be transparent - they pay the water sector salaries! Ask them to assist with efficiency measures - they are fairly intelligent. If California has a drought to the extent that an emergency has been declared why did authorities wait until the dams are below 30%? Why has there not been a massive drought information campaign - even door to door?
Hydro-Force
Posted: Wednesday, March 4, 2009 10:24 AM
Joined: 3/3/2009
Posts: 2


National Directory of Water Rates? 

As part of a recent study; I though it would have been an easy reach to contact our Federal Offices and ask for a book or at least a website on 1998-2008/2009 National Water rates book or some type of clearing house for this information. But no-one I spoke to at the federal level seems to have a clue?  If it's not out there it would make a great project for someone thats very bored..very very bored! lol Any takers?

I have seen some smaller studies out there done by B.V. and others, but nothing comprehensive covering all cities and towns. To my knowledge, at this time we have no absolute method to compare or trend cost data on a national or regional levels. Any help in this area is most appreciated!

Thanks, Fran


Johannes Buckle
Posted: Tuesday, March 10, 2009 9:11 AM
Joined: 3/3/2009
Posts: 8


We as Engineers (I assume) tend to forget a very pertinent tool in WDM (Water Demand Management) - talking to the people! There are something called customer awareness and education. There is also customer satisfaction surveys to find out HOW to approach them - the customer. We tend to always look to the financial and technical instruments. Confide in the customer and tell them we need your help! (I am a civil engineer in water)
Amy Vickers
Posted: Friday, March 13, 2009 8:00 AM
Joined: 2/18/2009
Posts: 1


Fix their own leaking pipes!

What other single customer other than the water utility itself has the potential to save from 10% to 20%-plus simply by fixing leaks?




Thomas E Pape
Posted: Friday, March 13, 2009 11:25 AM
Joined: 10/17/2008
Posts: 31


I whole heartedly agree that there is a urgent need for most utilities to better monitor losses and fix the leaks in their distribution system.  But, to be fair ......

  What other single customer has: 95% of their plumbing system buried 6 feet underground;  pressurized to more than 100 psi; below streets; driven over by thousands of vehicles and 50 ton trucks every day; buried next to gas lines, sewer lines,  electric cables, and communication lines; requires earthmoving equipment to gain access to the pipes; and, requires closing down major streets for days to repair or weeks to replace?

 


Johannes Buckle
Posted: Tuesday, March 17, 2009 9:39 AM
Joined: 3/3/2009
Posts: 8


In the developing world lo and behold 80% of water losses occur on private property where consumers do not pay for their water but also do not care if it is wasted. We need discipline in the water sector by consumers.
Jill Hoyenga
Posted: Wednesday, July 22, 2009 4:03 PM
Joined: 7/22/2009
Posts: 1


My two cents:

#1 - Install meters for every customer. A lot is said about a certain city in a certain state not having meters, however in the State of Washington the #1 priority is to get utilities to install water meters because over half of the systems do not have them. I heard from other AWWA sources that the State of Washington is not unique in not having water meters on a large percentage of accounts.

#2 - Control system loss, I am with Amy and Tom has a great point too. The pipe is more difficult to get to...on the other hand leaking pipes in the conditions that Tom describes can do a tremendous amount of damage over time. In addition to pipe replacement, pressure regulators placed strategically throughout the system can help especially if there are large elevation changes within the distribution piping.

#3 - I am with Peter with water budget awareness if not rates. Rates are a hard political sell, especially rate cases that are not simple. Water budget education campaigns also set the stage for an educated population once water budget water rates are set before the rate-setting body. However, water budget education can not happen unless there are meters, so it all begins there.


PeterH
Posted: Friday, November 13, 2009 9:38 AM
Joined: 11/12/2009
Posts: 5


Peter Mayer wrote:
If a water utility could do just one thing to improve water efficiency in their service area what would it be?

HETs for all? Total Xeriscape conversion? Elimination of system losses?

My vote would be to implement a water budget-based rate structure for all customers.  An effective, fair price signal is essential to achieving water savings.

I'm sure others have different ideas on this.  What would you choose?


I agree 100%...Hit them in the pocket book. Charge the real cost of water. Eliminate the govt price fixing.