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Conserving Water: How to Plan and Implement Cost-Effective Programs. Mary Ann Dickinson Executive Director Alliance for Water Efficiency. What the Public Can Perceive……. When Does This Happen?. When water utilities do nothing until a crisis occurs and restrictions are enacted

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conserving water how to plan and implement cost effective programs

Conserving Water: How to Plan and Implement Cost-Effective Programs

Mary Ann Dickinson

Executive Director

Alliance for Water Efficiency

when does this happen
When Does This Happen?
  • When water utilities do nothing until a crisis occurs and restrictions are enacted
  • Conservation then seen as deprivation
  • Underlying ethic is missing in water
  • Consumers unaware of actual water use
  • Consumers unaware of resource impacts
  • Water not priced to its true value, despite big bills for its distribution and pending shortages
conservation s many benefits
Conservation’s Many Benefits
  • Drought Tool: short-term relief
  • PlanningTool: lessen gap between demand and available supply
  • EconomicTool: defer capital facilities for drinking water and wastewater treatment
    • e.g. US will spend a quarter trillion dollars by the year 2020
    • Drinking and Wastewater SRF funds
national standards help
National Standards Help
  • Residential as well as commercial plumbing products and appliances:
    • Toilets
    • Showerheads
    • Faucets
    • Urinals
    • Clothes Washers Commercial)
    • Dishwashers
    • Pre-rinse spray valves
send consumers to a label
Send Consumers to a Label
  • EPA Energy Star companion program
  • Voluntary program only
  • 20% more efficient
  • Performance Tested
  • Products:
    • HETs
    • Faucets
    • New Homes
    • Urinals
    • Irrigation Controllers
retrofit to standards and labels
Retrofit to Standards and Labels
  • Residential Households
  • Commercial and Office Buildings
  • Industry and Manufacturing
  • Institutions
  • Indoor and Outdoor
how much can be saved
How Much Can Be Saved?
  • 1998 AWWARF Study of residential end uses in 1300 homes in twelve cities using data-loggers
  • Without conservation, the household used on average 64.6 gallons per capita per day indoors
  • With conservation, the per capita per day figure is reduced to 44.7 gallons, or 30% savings
relative consumption
Relative Consumption
  • 1998 AWWARF Study showed national average of residential per capita consumption was 170 gallons per person per day
  • Brisbane Australia’s residential per capita is 36 gallons per person per day
  • No noticeable loss of lifestyle
  • Consumer behavior reductions are huge
  • How do WE get there?
  • Highlighting the benefits of conservation
back to conservation benefits
Back to Conservation Benefits


  • Satisfying the demands of new growth without needing additional capital investment for supply and treatment
  • Flattening the demand peak to reduce the need for water supply and treatment investment to meet an artificially high peak
benefits of water savings
Benefits of Water Savings


  • Maintaining stream flows
  • Protecting groundwater supplies from excessive depletion
  • Reducing the discharge volume of wastewater
  • Reducing excessive runoff of urban contaminants now regulated under TMDLs
  • Reducing green waste from landscaped areas
so where to start
So Where To Start?
  • Analyze the water system needs and pinpoint where you most need your savings targeted
  • Determine a baseline set of data for eventual evaluation
  • Analyze the water and energy use
  • Evaluate the water users and where the water is actually being consumed
and then
And Then?
  • Draw up a conservation plan and budget over a multiple year time frame
  • Justify the economics of each program choice
  • Plan for long-term savings evaluation that is comprehensive and statistically defensible
  • Readjust your program based on results achieved
first steps are free
First Steps Are Free

Designate A Conservation Coordinator

  • Designate responsibility within agency to an individual identifiable to the public

Prohibit Obvious Water Wastage with Simple Ordinances

  • Enact and enforce local ordinances prohibiting gutter flooding, single-pass cooling, non-recirculating systems in car washes and commercial laundries, non-recycling decorative fountains
  • Retrofit on resale, retrofit on reconnect, retrofit to grow
  • Example ordinances being compiled
next educate the public
Next: Educate the Public

Public Information Programs

  • Provide speakers, advertising, and other information to promote water conservation

School Education Programs

  • Work with school districts by providing materials for water conservation instruction

The Right Consumer Messages Are Important

message largest indoor water use
Message: Largest indoor water use
  • 28% of indoor water use is toilet flushing with potable water
  • Older toilets are 3.5 to 7 gallons per flush
  • Federal standard since 1992 is 1.6 gallons
  • New models at 1.28 gallons
  • Convince the consumers
  • Reduce the LEAKS!
message 2nd largest indoor water user
Message: 2nd largest indoor water user
  • 15% of indoor water use is clothes washing
  • Energy Star Washers were not always water efficient
  • By 2011 all residential washers must be 9.5 WF
  • 40 MGD will be saved every year over older top-loading models
news flash where the water is really going
NEWS FLASH: Where the water is really going
  • 30-60% of urban residential water consumption is outdoor irrigation
  • 80% in some areas of the West
  • Over-irrigation is common, particularly in new homes with automatic irrigation systems
  • Reducing unnecessary irrigation reduces runoff and pollutant loading of streams
  • Reducing irrigation reduces summer peak
not as easy as indoors
Not As Easy As Indoors
  • 35% more water used with in-ground sprinklers
  • 47% more water used with average domestic irrigation timers
  • Business and City landscapes have significant potential for water savings
  • High landscape water use increases waste and runoff
next steps
Next Steps

Meter With Commodity Rate

  • Meter all new connections and bill by volume
  • Retrofit unmetered connections
  • Consider installing dedicated landscape meters

Audit Your Water System and Repair Leaks

  • Conduct system audit with the new methodology
  • Monitor water delivery system for leaks and make cost-effective repairs
adopt the new method






Billed Metered Consumption



Billed Unmetered Consumption




Unbilled Metered Consumption




Unbilled Unmetered Consumption

Unauthorized Consumption








Customer Meter Inaccuracies

Leakage and Overflows at Storage Tanks

Leakage on Transmission and

Distribution Mains



Leakage on Service Connections

up to point of Customer Meter

Adopt the New Method
next steps1
Next Steps

Explore Better Conservation Rates

  • Adopt water rates to provide an incentive to customers to reduce average or peak use
  • If utility provides both water and sewer service, apply conservation pricing to both
  • Customer should NOT be penalized for conserving
  • Adjust rate structure BEFORE undertaking conservation programs
  • Look at budget-based rates
we are still pricing wrong
We Are Still Pricing Wrong

Adapted from Raftelis, 2002

relative price graph
Relative Price Graph

Source: Thomas Chesnutt, A&N Technical Services

water budget based rates
Water Budget-Based Rates?
  • Study just released by the AWWARF
  • Implemented in communities facing limited supplies/shortages
  • Seen as more equitable way to share limited supply while preserving choice
  • Need to communicate assumptions to customer and allow for necessary adjustment
  • No revenue loss from conservation; revenue GAIN!
individualized rate concept
Individualized Rate Concept


Higher Rate

Lower Rate




documented savings
Documented Savings

Period Otay Irvine Capo Valley

pre ‘88-’90 Av 28.71 52.16 28.35

post ’90 Av 23.05 32.78 18.45

Difference -5.66 -19.38 -9.90

Percent Change -20% -37% -35%

Values are irrigation rates in inches/acre

typical residential programs
Typical Residential Programs

Conduct Residential Audits

  • Offer residential customers water-use surveys which include checking for leak, flow rates, irrigation systems and schedules. Try contacting 20% of your customers each year to offer surveys. Offer incentives and devices.

Retrofit Residential Plumbing

  • Best when tied to the audit program.
  • Provide 2.0 to 2.5 gallon-per-minute showerheads and aerators.
more residential programs
More Residential Programs

Replace Old Toilets with ULFTs

  • Implement a program to replace high-water using toilets with 1.6 gallons per flush models or new higher efficiency toilets at 1.28 gallons per flush

Retrofit High-Efficiency Washers

  • Provide rebate to encourage purchase of high-efficiency clothes washing machines
  • New national standard taking effect in 2007
program economies of scale
Program Economies of Scale

Monthly Program Activity March April May June

Cumulative ULF toilets distributed 4,285 9,550 13,929 20,423

Cumulative cost per ULF toilet:

1. Program design, development,

marketing & mgmt. support $85.26 $45.57 $37.64 $30.60

2. Payment to community-based

distribution organization 20.63 19.01 20.97 21.49

3. Payment for recycling old

toilet 7.94 6.19 7.13 6.00

4. Warehousing cost for ULF toilet

inventory 27.58 16.22 13.01 10.70

5. Purchase of toilet and related

materials 65.4464.9166.7967.70

Total cumulative unit cost of

distributed ULF toilets $206.85 $151.90 $145.54 $136.49

Source: Metropolitan Water District of Southern California

large user programs best value
Large User Programs: Best Value

Examine the Commercial, Industrial, Institutional Accounts

  • Identify and rank customers in each customer class
  • Retrofit high-flow toilets and clothes washers
  • Look at high water using processes for possible efficiency improvements
  • Reduce overall sector water use by 10% of baseline
  • San Antonio gets 50% of its water savings here
commercial opportunities
Commercial Opportunities
  • Waterless Urinals
  • X-ray machines
  • Cooling Tower Audits and Retrofits
  • Laundries and Laundromats
  • Food Service Sector
    • Pre-rinse spray valves
    • Dishwashers
    • Icemakers
    • Connectionless Food Steamers
    • Water Broom
industrial opportunities
Industrial Opportunities
  • Counter-flow washing & rinse systems
  • Reuse of process water
  • Recirculation of cooling water
  • Cooling Tower Audits and Retrofits
  • Cleaning and Sanitation
  • Treatment and Use of Blowdown
  • Pollution Prevention
  • Water Recycling
large landscape
Large Landscape

Examine Large Landscape Accounts

  • Install separate landscape meter
  • Assign a yearly or adjusted monthly water budget of <80% ETo
  • Link water budgets to tariffs
  • Offer incentives to minimize irrigation needs
  • For mixed-use meters: offer irrigation surveys to highest 20% of customers
outdoor solutions
Outdoor Solutions
  • Appropriate landscape design
  • Soil amendments and mulching
  • Weather-based irrigation controllers
  • Fix leaking irrigation systems
  • Drip Irrigation
  • Grey water
  • Rainwater Harvesting
  • Recycled water
  • Water Budgets
use new technology
Use New Technology







so is conservation affordable
So….Is Conservation Affordable?
  • Costs between $0.46 and $1.40 per 1,000 gallons, depending on the program
  • Most utilities paying more than $1.40 per 1,000 gallons to develop NEWsupply
  • Conservation should be automatic where the utility’s avoided cost of water is HIGHER than the unit cost of conserved water
  • Conservation should be capitalized like supply to reduce rate impacts
  • Remember: revenue loss from conservation can be AVOIDED with planning!
alliance model
Alliance Model


  • Mechanism for tracking long-term savings
  • Metric units
  • Fully customizable for your utility
  • Ties into existing and available models
  • Understandable graphic outputs for your managers, board members, and customers
  • Beta testing begins in March, 2009
and we sell books
And We Sell Books!
  • Bulk Discounted Reference Publications
responding to drought

Responding to Drought

Mary Ann Dickinson

Executive Director

Alliance for Water Efficiency

eight steps of drought planning
Eight Steps of Drought Planning

Establish a Drought Planning Committee

Determine how to measure extent of the water shortage

Define the drought stages and what triggers them

Assess all the options for reducing demand

Develop demand reducing actions for each drought stage

Develop information and education messages for each drought stage

Consult the public (all stakeholders)

Adopt and implement the Drought Response Plan

measurement of shortage
Measurement of Shortage
  • Meteorological: Defined by diminished precipitation that persists over years and long enough to produce a significant hydrologic imbalance.
  • Hydrological: Defined as deficiencies in water supplies, and is measured as stream flow and lake, reservoir, and groundwater levels.
meteorological shortage
Meteorological Shortage
  • Set to a defined % of normal precipitation
  • Set to values of Standard Precipitation Index
  • Set to values of Palmer Drought Severity Index (based on a soil moisture algorithm)
  • Set to combination of Index Options (like US Drought Monitor)
  • None are very easy for the public to understand
hydrologic shortage
Hydrologic Shortage
  • Hydrologic lags in time behind meteorological
  • Hydrologic measurement can be one factor or a series of factors
  • Reservoir capacity: % available
  • Ground Water: % of safe yield available (can be a negative number)
  • Supply-Demand Gap
  • Easier for public to understand
drought stages and triggers
Drought Stages and Triggers
  • Each Drought Stage defined by a “trigger” which activates that stage
  • Each Drought Stage requires a unique set of additional actions to be taken and consumer messages for that stage
  • Stages and triggers can be simple or complex
  • Tracking movement across stages is important
va model drought ordinance
VA Model Drought Ordinance
  • Stage I – drought watch
  • Stage II – drought warning
  • Stage III – drought emergency
one example of drought stages
One Example of Drought Stages

1: Drought Watch <10% shortfall

2: Drought Alert <20 % shortfall

3: Drought Critical <40% shortfall

4: Drought Emergency >40% shortfall

another example of stages
Another Example of Stages
  • Based solely on level of Aquifer
  • Minimum level in 1956 was 612.5 feet
  • Maximum level in 1992 was 703.3 feet
  • Stage 1: Aquifer level reaches 650 feet mean sea level
  • Stage 2: Aquifer level reaches 640 feet mean sea level
  • Stage 3: Aquifer level reaches 630 feet mean sea level
sample drought stages
Sample Drought Stages


Stage 1: <80%

Stage 2: <65%

Stage 3: <40%

Stage 4: <25%

sample action level stage 1
Sample Action Level Stage 1


  • Set the tone for a dry irrigation season.
  • Reduce water demand to prevent going to Stage 2.
  • Request that customers voluntarily reduce their water use by 10 percent.
  • Enact the Stage 1 Drought restriction clause in contracts.
  • Activate the water budget program for large-volume customers.
  • Warn of and prepare for a Stage 2 Drought.
  • Implement a public awareness campaign.
sample action level stage 2
Sample Action Level Stage 2


  • Activates mandatory water use restrictions
  • Allow watering only two days per week.
  • Set a limit on the watering time allowed per watering day.
  • Restrict or eliminate nonessential water uses.
  • Implement a water use reduction goal of 30% for large-volume customers.
  • Implement industry-specific water restriction programs.
  • Activate the enforcement program.
  • Enact the Stage 2 Drought restriction clause in contracts.
  • Design a surcharge program to support the mandatory drought restrictions.
  • Implement a public awareness campaign.
sample action level stage 3
Sample Action Level Stage 3


  • Activates prohibitions on most lawn watering and other mandatory water restrictions.
  • Allow one day of watering per week for trees and shrubs (no turf watering except on high-public-use areas).
  • Set a limit on the watering time allowed per watering day.
  • Eliminate all nonessential water uses.
  • Implement a water use reduction goal of 50 percent for large-volume customers.
  • Implement industry-specific water restriction programs.
  • Enact the Stage 3 Drought restriction clause in contracts.
sample action level stage 4
Sample Action Level Stage 4


  • Activates a rationing program for City Water customers. Restrictions under a Stage 4 Drought are severe and will probably result in long-term damage to landscapes.
  • Limit outdoor watering to monthly tree watering.
  • Eliminate nonessential water uses.
  • Design a water-rationing program to provide customers water for essential uses for an indefinite period of extreme drought.