Water Conservation Programs, Planning, and Evaluation

Water Conservation programs are usually carried out by water utilities, and they require careful planning and subsequent evaluation to ensure that the programs continue to save water and are cost-effective investments for the water supplier. The Alliance for Water Efficiency provides technical assistance to its members in the planning of their water conservation programs. The US EPA WaterSense® program also provides resources and materials to assist utilities. 

The 2022 State Policy Scorecard for Water Efficiency and Sustainability evaluated and ranked each U.S. state based on its adoption of laws and policies that advance water efficiency, conservation, sustainability, and affordability.

Device distribution programs are used to provide water conserving devices to customers where the devices can be easily installed by the customer themselves using basic tools, typically found in homes or businesses (pliers, adjustable wrench, or screwdriver).

A direct installation program guarantees that the fixture are installed, and is more reliable than a simple device distribution program. However, it is more expensive, as it requires the water utility to provide trained installers to complete the installations at the customer’s home or business. 

Below is the archived G480-13 Leaderboard, where AWE verfied water utility compliance for the G480-13 Standard from 2014 through 2020. These water providers have developed and implemented exceptional water conservation programs and they are recognized here. The updated version of the G480 standard, the G480-20, was released in 2021. To view the current leaderboard for the updated G480-20, click here.

The G480-20 Water Conservation and Efficiency Program Operation and Management Standard (G480 Standard) is a voluntary standard that can be adopted by water providers at their own discretion. The G480-20 Standard describes the critical elements of an effective water conservation and efficiency program. This standard encompasses activities undertaken by a utility within its own operations to improve water use on the supply side upstream of customer meters through distribution system management, and on the demand side through customer billing and education practices. A conservation program meeting this standard has the potential to impact all water users.

A tidal wave of data from advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) systems and associated information is now inundating water utilities and their customers. Instead of drowning in data, utilities now have the opportunity to systematically manage, protect, extend and utilize these data to improve the management of water resources. 

Water conservation program partnerships can take many forms, but usually involve two or more utilities or organizations that share a common goal and/or common service territory. There are many motivations to form a partnership including:

Financial incentive programs usually include rebates or vouchers to induce customers to replace water wasting fixtures and appliances, or alter the customer’s purchasing decision in a store when the customer has choices in the water efficiency levels of products to be purchased.

Site surveys or customer audits are an important tool for determining water use and conservation potential at a specific location. There are many variations of this technique, but all involve trained professionals at the water customer’s site, performing a thorough survey of indoor and outdoor water use. 

WaterSense®, a voluntary partnership program sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is both a label for water-efficient products and a resource for helping you save water.

One of the first steps when starting a water conservation program is developing a water conservation plan. A number of conservation planning guidance documents are available to assist in the process.

Need help in planning your water conservation programs? The Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE) now has a solution for you. First released in 2009 after a successful beta testing period with a number of water utilities, the Tracking Tool is now in Version 4.0 and has over 400 users.  The Tool -- complete with a detailed User Guide -- is available free of charge to all AWE members in good standing.  A California Edition of the Tool is available and can be used by California members to compare projected water use to their AB 1668/SB 606 water use objectives.

Built on the industry-leading Salesforce.com Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform, WaterWays® is a cloud-based solution for water efficiency program delivery and management.