Using Water Efficiently
Ideas for Utilities
Efficient water use can have major environmental, public health, and economic benefits by helping to improve water quality, maintain aquatic ecosystems, and protect drinking water resources. By using water more efficiently and by purchasing more water efficient products, we can also help mitigate the effects of drought. This list of measures is not meant to be comprehensive, but rather a starting point.
- Designate a water efficiency coordinator.
- Develop a water efficiency plan.
- Educate and involve employees, residents and school children in water efficiency efforts.
- Become a WaterSense Partner!
System Improvements—Keep a tight system, look at alternative sources:
- Implement a water-loss management program. Water losses may be real (e.g., from leaks) or apparent (e.g., meter inaccuracy, unauthorized consumption). AWWA has free audit softwareExit to help utilities get a handle on water loss.
- Utilities should strive for universal metering.
- Consider a reclaimed wastewater distribution system for non-potable uses.
- Ensure that fire hydrants are tamper proof.
- Equipment changes—set a good example by using water efficient equipment.
- Install high-efficiency WaterSense labeled toilets, or retrofit water-saving devices on existing ones.
- Install WaterSense labeled faucet aerators and showerheads in municipal buildings.
- As municipal appliances or equipment wear out, replace them with water-saving models.
- Eliminate "once-through" cooling of equipment with municipal water by recycling water flow to cooling tower or replacing with air-cooled equipment.
- Minimize the water used in space cooling equipment in accordance with manufacturer's recommendations. Shut off cooling units when not needed.
- Consider installing new water-saving pool filters.
Policies and Programs to Encourage Efficient Water Use:
- Ensure the utility rate structure encourages water efficiency, or at least does not discourage it.
- Make retrofit kits for residences and businesses available free or at cost. Kits may contain WaterSense labeled faucet aerators, showerheads, leak detection tablets, and replacement valves.
- Promote water-efficient landscape practices for homeowners and businesses, especially those with large, irrigated properties. Practices include use of native plants, landscape renovation to reduce water use, use of irrigation professionals certified by a WaterSense labeled program and more efficient irrigation.
- Offer incentive programs (rebates/tax credits) to homeowners and businesses to encourage replacement of plumbing fixtures and appliances with water-efficient models.
- Conduct water–use audits of homes, businesses and industries. Audits provide users with invaluable information about how water is used and how usage might be reduced by specific measures.
- For a full list of municipal water efficiency measures, see Appendix A (PDF) (20 pp, 196 K, About PDF) of the U.S. EPA Water Conservation Plan Guidelines.
- EPA has developed a document that provides an overview of a range of best practices that utilities can undertake to avoid the need to expand their water supplies. Best Practices to Consider When Evaluating Water Conservation and Efficiency as an Alternative for Water Supply Expansion
- EPA’s Sustainable Infrastructure program highlights water efficiency strategies for water suppliers.
- AWWA’s Water Conservation Resource CommunityExit also has resources for utilities.