GUIDE TO WATER CONSERVATION
Section 3: Benefits of Conservation
The benefits of conservation may be seen as the avoidance, mitigation, or reversal of the problems associated with overuse of water. As alternatives to present practices, they may be framed has positive advantages. Some of the benefits of water conservation are
- Lower water use and bills for residential customers. A study of plumbing retrofits in selected houses in Seattle found water savings averaging 37 percent (1).
- Reduce labor, fertilizer use, runoff and pollution in landscapes (2).
- Lower water use and bills for industrial and commercial customers. A pilot project at a Motorola facility in Phoenix, AZ, resulting in an annual reduction of 35 million gallons of water and $112,000 in water and sewer fees. A second pilot project paid for itself in one year with water use reductions of 10.5 million gallons and savings of $280,000 (3).
- Lower cost associated with water treatment and operations. A national water services company found that water use declined 1.4 percent per year from 2001 to 2010 in its largest subsidiaries. Various conservation programs implemented by the Phoenix (AZ) Water and Wastewater Utility resulted in a 25 percent drop in average monthly used from 1975 to 1994. Seattle, WA, reduced water used by almost 40 MGD from 1990 to 1998. A leak detection and repair program in Gallitzen, PA, cut water production needs in half. Irvine Ranch (CA) Water District reduce water use by about 25 billion gallons from 1991 to 1997 and saved $28 million (4).
- Decrease energy use (5).
- Increased revenues from conservation rates. Conservation rates implemented by the Spalding County (GA) Water Authority resulted in a 21 percent increase in revenues and a 5 percent drop in customer water use (6).
- Avoid, delay, or reduce capital outlays to develop new water treatment or distribution capacity. Extended infrastructure life also reduces costs to taxpayers and ratepayers. Cary, NC, was able to delay plant expansion by 10 years because of reduction in water demand associated with its conservation program (7).
- Protect natural features and wildlife habitat (8).
- Improve drought management (9).
- Prevent saltwater intrusion (10).
(1) DeOreo, W. B., Dietteman, A., Skeel, T., Mayer, P. W., Lewis, D. M., & Smith, J. (2001). Retrofit realities. Journal AWWA. 93(3): 58-72.
Grisham, A., & Fleming, W. W. (1989). Long-term options for municipal water conservation. Journal AWWA. 81(3): 34-42.
(2) Grisham & Fleming (1989).
USEPA. (2003). Irrigation Controllers: Timers for the Homeowner: Recommended Water Saving Features. EPA 832-K-03-001. Washington, DC: USEPA
(3) Shah, A. R., & Ploeser, J. H. (1999). Reusing rinse water at a semiconductor plant. Journal AWWA. 91(8): 16-20.
(4) Hunter, M., Donmoyer, K., Chelius, J., & Naumick, G. (2011, May). Declining residential water use presents challenges, opportunities. Opflow, pp. 18-20.
Cuthbert, J., & Lemoine, P. R. (1996). Conservation-oriented water rates. Journal AWWA. 88(11): 68-78.
(5) USEPA (2003).
(6) Jordan, J. L. (2000, June). Rates—consider conservation pricing. Opflow, pp. 13, 16.
(7) Platt, J. L., & Delforge, M. C. (2001). The cost-effectiveness of water conservation. Journal AWWA. 93(3): 73-83.
(8) Grisham & Fleming (1989).
(9) USEPA (2002b).
(10) USEPA (2002b).