The Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE) has produced new communication tools to help water utilities more effectively communicate the value of the water service they provide and demonstrate how efficient water use keeps water affordable and available today and for the future.
A new video, entitled “Water: What You Pay For” explains the water service a typical residential water bill covers, and the costs of delivering a consistent, reliable flow of safe and affordable drinking water to customers. AWE has also published a Water Rates Message Plan to help water utilities communicate why rates may be rising or changing, even as customers are being asked to conserve.
Research demonstrates that although communities rely on water to thrive, water resources are taken for granted by the public and the role of water utilities is misunderstood. Less than half of American homeowners (44 percent) say they “definitely know” where their water comes from, according to a 2014 national poll conducted by Enviromedia. The 2012 Value of Water Index revealed that 69% of respondents generally take access to clean water for granted.1 Building public understanding of this essential service remains an increasingly urgent need for water utilities, which are forecasted to invest $1 trillion in needed infrastructure projects over the next 25 years.2 Research demonstrates a strong connection between knowledge of water sources and willingness to conserve3 or pay more for increased reliability and sustainability.
“Water providers will need to raise rates to fund both basic repairs and new technologies that make their systems smarter and more sustainable, and they will need strong public support for those investments,” said Mary Ann Dickinson, President and CEO of the Alliance for Water Efficiency. “We created this video and new resources to create greater awareness of the pipes, plants and people that keep water flowing where and when we need it, and help establish shared responsibility for water stewardship.”
The video follows water from the source to the faucet, and explains how water utilities withdraw or purchase water from the source, treat it to high-quality standards, distribute it to businesses and homes, manage wastewater and provide ongoing customer service - all while maintaining vast infrastructure systems. It highlights the incredible value of water service compared to many other services, such as electricity and internet, and explains how paying for water – and conserving it – is an investment in a sustainable water supply.
These resources are part of AWE’s Financing Sustainable Water initiative to identify and disseminate solutions to help water systems balance revenue management, resource efficiency and fiscal sustainability. AWE solicited input from water managers across the country through its Education and Outreach Committee to develop these resources.
AWE members may customize the video to communicate local messages. To view the customization offering, click here.
For updates on new AWE resources, subscribe to the AWE Newsletter.
1Xylem, Value of Water Index, 2012
2AWWA, Buried No Longer: Confronting America’s Water Infrastructure Challenge, 2014
3Alliance for Water Efficiency, Water Efficiency Watch , June 2009