STUDIO 3 REQUIREMENT:
MUNICIPAL WATER CONSERVATION
DEBRA ROSS FALL 1979
DEPARTMENT OF URBAN AND REGIONAL PLANNING
MUNICIPAL WATER CONSERVATION
.TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. INTRODUCTION .... '. . . V. .. l
II. PUBLIC INFORMAJION/EDUCATION . . 11
III. WATER METERING/*. .V". .' ..T-Tr'.*; . .'7/;. 21
IV. PRICING POLICIES ....... i. ; . . 7 27
V. WATER CONSERVING DEVICES ........... . 7 36
VI. ORDINANCES AND CODES FOR NEW CONSTRUCTION; CHANGES IN HORTICULTURE . 47
VII. WATER REUSE AND RECYCLING . 55
VIII. EXISTING WATER CONSERVATION PROGRAMS .... . 64
IX. CONCLUSIONS . 75
Water has been viewed traditionally as an unlimited resource in the United States. Until recent years, the only obstacle to unrestricted water usage was the limited capacity of a municipal utility to supply its customers with treated water. However, a number of events in past years has caused a reevaluation of attitudes towards the future of water supplies in this country. The growing interest in environmental affairs has created an awareness for the finite nature of most natural resources, particularly water. This new concern was best illustrated by a series of droughts in western and mid-Atlantic states which resulted in significant changes in water patterns in affected areas. Many changes in consumption habits were voluntary as water customers acknowledged the existence of a shortage and consciously sought ways to save water. New pricing policies encouraged conservation rather than use for the first time in the history of many water utilities. And, also for the first time, many communities initiated mandatory water rationing or restrictions to ease the drain on municipal water supplies.
In addition to drought conditions, rising per capita consumption of water is a major factor in the depletion of excess capacity of many water supply systems. During the past twenty years, per capita usage has increased on an average of one percent annual ly.-*- This rising consumption may be attributed to changes in the economic, physical, and environmental characteristics of many communities. Some of the factors which particularly affect residential water usage include demographics, income, water pricing policies, consumer habits, state of the economy, and the extent of watering lawns and
gardens. Increasing income levels have permitted the introduction and widespread utilization of water-consuming appliances such as washing machines, dishwashers, garbage disposals, and some models of air conditioners.
Higher per capita income has also contributed to rising water usage through lower density residential development and, consequently, larger areas of lawn requiring irrigation. And, finally, the American farmer has come to depend on water to make his farmland as productive agriculturally as possible. All of these factors have contributed to the draining of excess water supplies of local water systems.
As a result of rising per capita water consumption, the most accessible supplies of water have been increasingly depleted by municipal utilities.
This has created a need for the development of more difficult and/or remote sources of supply; sources which are both more expensive to develop and distribute than the easily obtainable supplies of the past. Colorado's transmountain diversions are an example of this point. The cost of providing treated water has been assumed by the customer (via his water bills)
in an effort by the utilities to maintain a self-sufficient operation that is
not supplemented by tax revenues. This has contributed to escalating water prices and a greater consumer awareness for reducing water usage (although water is still "cheap"). For the first time, water users are being encouraged to use their water supplies more efficiently and attempt to conserve or stretch this resource. Water conservation has very much become an expression of the seventies. It can be defined as the implementation of conscious practices which limit the waste of water and advocate the utilization of devices which not only limit but seek to reuse, recycle, or reclaim water. The devices which limit or restrict water "at the tap" and can be installed in
new structures or retrofitted into existing buildings at little cost are discussed in Chapter V; reuse and recycling technology is described in Chapter VII of this paper. Water conservation at the tap has been identified recently by the Environmental Protection Agency as one of the most effective methods by which both raw water requiring treatment for potable use and waste-water needing treatment can be reduced.
The Clean Water Act was amended in 1977 to require the implementation of water conservation measures by any municipality seeking Federal grants for the construction of new or expanded treatment facilities. This is within the jurisdiction of the Environmental Protection Agency's authority because it is the agency which awards construction grants to municipalities for facility development. All water utilized in the home, i.e., toilet flushing, dishwashing, laundry, lavatory sink, etc. is treated before use and then it is returned to the sanitary sewer collection system and transported to a sewage disposal facility for processing. Water which is used for landscape irrigation is treated to meet water quality standards but does not generally flow to the wastewater plant. As a result, a water conservation program can be approached with three principal objectives: 1) to preserve supplies of raw water and reduce the capacity of requirements of water treatment plants;
2) to decrease the capacity of wastewater treatment facilities and delay the need for expansions; and 3) to minimize the amount of energy consumed in the treatment process.
On May 23, 1977, President Carter delivered an Environmental Message to the United States Congress in which he ordered a review of the existing Federal water policy "with water conservation as its cornerstone." Approximately one year later (June 1978), the results of the Water Resources Policy
Study were announced and the conclusion drawn that "water conservation has not been addressed on a national level." The study noted such problems as shortages in 21 of the 106 watershed subregions throughout the country, cities with water shortages which can be solved only at great expense, and depletion of groundwater sources. It was the President's feeling that an "effective water conservation program could play a key role in alleviating these problems." President Carter further deemed water conservation a national priority and announced several measures which were intended to avert "critical water shortages in the future through adequate supply, conservation, and wise planning."
The implementation of the measures recommended by the President's water policy were to be the responsibility of appropriate Federal agencies.
Some of these include:
1) The requirement of water conservation as a condition of Federal assistance. This effects the water supply and wastewater treatment grant and loan programs of the Environmental Protection Agency (discussed above), Department of Agriculture, and Department of Commerce; the housing assistance programs of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Veteran's Administration, and the Department of Agriculture; and new contracts for storage and delivery of municipal and industrial water supplies from Federal projects, for example, the Bureau of Reclamation, Departments of Agriculture and Energy, and the Army Corps of Engineers.
2) The requirement of water conservation standards in Federal buildings which includes retrofit devices in existing structures and water conserving plumbing fixtures and devices in new construction.
3) The encouragement of water conservation in agricultural assistance programs for areas where water shortages prevail.
4) The provision of technical asssistance for water conservation in water-short areas through the Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Interior, and Agriculture.
Very few areas of the country are immune to these Presidential directives since they comprehensively include the agencies on which they are dependent for assistance. This was obviously the President's intention and may be the impetus for extensive water conservation efforts.
It is the purpose of this paper to present a positive perspective on water conservation because the preservation of our natural resources is becoming an integral part of our lifestyle. However, in researching conservation methods, two potential problems surfaced most frequently. The first was a possible question with water rights since water usage patterns are affected; the second was an engineering-related situation which may be created by decreased flow volumes in existing sewer mains. Both issues are described very briefly in the remainder of this chapter.
Water Law as It Affects Conservation
The subject of water law is a complicated one; one which has been the focus of volumes of study. It is not the objective of this paper to provide an in-depth analysis of water law or the legal implications of water conservation. However, there are some legal questions which merit identification they will arise continually as water conservation measures are implemented.
Two main doctrines of common water law prevail: riparian rights, related generally to eastern states and prior appropriation, which is applied in the western portion of the United States. Both systems can have
a great deal of influence on water resource decisions, particularly in private disputes.
Briefly, riparian water law protects all owners of land adjacent to a
river, stream, or lake from unreasonable interferences with their use and
enjoyment of the water. Therefore, all "riparian landowners" can claim their
rights against one another for unreasonable (for example, polluting) or ex-4
cessive water use. In theory, all riparian landowners are entitled to water which is completely unpolluted by upstream users (also referred to as "natural use"). Some riparian jurisdictions have adopted policies which utilizes a "reasonable use" approach, i.e., allowing some upstream degradation of water quality. However, some areas have returned to the original natural use theory which might present some problems in terms of large-scale conservation efforts
by prohibiting damming and storage activities.
Colorado, among other western states, subscribes to the doctrine of prior appropriation which stated simply means "first in time, first in right." Prior appropriation recognizes that the first user of a waterway has the continued first right to use of that water. The first user is referred to as a senior appropriator; those who follow him later are known as junior appropriators.
A water user's water rights are only recognized if water is diverted and put to beneficial use. At one time, domestic consumption, agriculture, or industrial use were considered the only beneficial uses of water. Conservation, recreation, or pollution abatement were adjudged by the courts to be non-beneficial uses until recent years.
In addition, obstacles to efficient water use is presented by the actual concept of the prior appropriation doctrine.^ The senior appropriator of the stream has the superior water right and may do whatever he desires with the
water. The junior user's rights are subordinate to those of the senior, even if the second use may be of greater public benefit. More importantly, however, is an indication that this type of water law can encourage wastage of water by the senior appropriator. The courts have ruled regularly that all appropriators must use their full allocation of water rights or forfeit them to a potential user.
The dominant common law affecting water rights can therefore be a major factor in water conservation. In states where riparian water law is utilized, public water resource management can be the foundation for planning for private conservation efforts, to be undertaken for all users of a body of water. In addition, a return to the natural use theory may be important step in the reduction of water pollution. In Colorado, and other states of prior appropriation, public programs must deal with the prevailing program of water use which does not favor private initiatives, but is more dependent upon public action.
Water Conservation as It Affects Sanitary Systems
From an engineering standpoint, water conservation may produce some difficulties in the existing sanitary sewer systems of a utility. In general, sewer mains are designed based on the slope which is required for wastewater flows to travel by gravity to the treatment facility and based on amount or volume of sewage which will flow through the line. A certain volume of liquid wastewater is necessary for the solids generated to flow freely. Water conservation will reduce only the liquid waste; the solids will be produced in the same proportions. The potential for back-ups in the sewer system due to water conserving toilets and other household plumbing fixtures was a concern expressed by several of the authors of research material. This is apparently
resolved easily in new developments where the design of the sewer lines can alleviate the congestion. Existing developments may be faced with regular cleaning out of the sewer lines which may prove to be of great expense to the utility.
Description of Methods to be Examined
In response to the Presidential policies of June 1978, the Environmental Protection Agency has identified six methods of conservation which represent a comprehensive approach to the preservation of water. A successful conservation effort by a municipality will be a result of a combination of these methods; some alternatives to conservation are more implementable than others because of economic, social, and political climates within a community or utility service area.
The six conservation measures to be examined in this paper include:
1) public information/education programs designed to communicate the need for conservation; 2) installation of water meters which enable water customers to be charged based on their actual consumption; 3) pricing and regulatory structures which provide economic incentives for saving water; 4) retrofit of existing structures with water saving devices which permit "at tap" water savings; 5) specific changes in local ordinances, and building and plumbing codes to mandate water-saving fixtures and devices in all new construction or renovated existing structures in addition to horticulture changes; and 6) reuse and recycle of water.
Although these are by no means the only methods available to promote water conservation, they are among the most feasible at the present time (with the exception of recycling which is still under development)
and appear to be included in various combinations in successfully operating programs.
^Milne, page 9.
National Association of Counties Research, page 2.
^President's Water Resources Policy Study.
Carlson, page 312.
51bid., page 323.
Ibid., page 329.
The objective of a public information/education program is to motivate water customers to consciously reduce water usage both inside and outside of the home. Public education is the linking component of a water conservation program.'*' The consumers of water must be apprised of the water situation before they are asked to conserve water. By promoting an understanding of the importance of conservation, water consumers may be encouraged to participate voluntarily in a conservation program.
A wide variety of means are available for the establishment of a public information program. Basically, it can consist of 1) direct mail, 2) news media, 3) personal contact, and 4) special projects and activities. Each of the four categories is dependent on the utility's ability to communicate with its customers and, in turn, its customers willingness to cooperate. Consumer education is valuable not only for its immediate effect in reducing demand, but also for preparing the public should more restrictive conservation measures become necessary.
Most residential water demand is for external uses, i.e., landscape irrigation. Studies indicate that approximately 57 percent of a household's water is used outside (in the Denver Water Department's service area) and,
of the remaining 43 percent of the water consumed within the residence,
about 75 percent of the in-house use occurs in the bathroom. Toilet flushing is the most water consumptive activity in a structure and represents approximately 39 percent of all domestic water use, bathing is second with estimates
of 31 percent of total in-house use. The remaining 30 percent may be divided between laundry, dishwashing, cooking, and other miscellaneous uses. A public information/education program should direct itself towards encouraging minor adjustments in customers daily patterns of water consumptive activities, both internally and externally. Four broad categories of public information strategies have been identified previously and can be applied to reducing domestic consumption.
Direct mail consists generally of bill inserts to a customer included with the regular bill, or newsletters that are mailed separately. The advantage offered by the bill insert is that it requires no additional postage and it will not be discarded unopened. A bill insert is an effective means of conveying general information or specific information relating, for example, to water restrictions or rationing, or increases in rates. It can range in size from a single sheet to a brochure, and can contain simply text, or cartoons, photographs, charts, etc. The Denver Water Department includes bill inserts in each bi-monthly bill which deals with issues concerning water in its water service area, particularly water conservation and activities relating to water sponsored by the Water Department. The City of Aurora inserts a pamphlet describing landscaping conducive to the semi-arid climate in its bills mailed in the spring planting season. The major disadvantage to bill inserts is that information may be delayed in reaching the customer because of variations in the utility's billing cycle.
A newsletter is printed generally on larger paper than a bill insert and
contains more information; it permits immediate direct contact with the water customer since it does not have to rely on billing periods. The newlsetter has two primary disadvantages: 1) it can be discarded as "junk" mail since it does not include anything which must be returned and 2) it requires additional postage which, in the case of a large agency, can be a considerable expense. A newletter, unlike a bill insert, has the capability of reaching persons who are consumers but not customers, such as residents of apartments, condominiums, or other structures who do not assume responsibility for the water bill. The importance of noncustomer consumers should not be overlooked; in some communities, 25 percent of the total number of consumers are apartment dwellers and condominiums and other ownership types of multi-family residences are increasing
in popularity each year.
Bill inserts and newsletters are generally the only means a water agency has of putting information directly into the hands of all of their customers. Either one of these direct mail strategies should be considered an essential part of even a minimal public information program.
The news media can play an active role in publicizing water conservation activities. Public information undertakings involving newspapers, radio, and television can be both simpler or substantially more difficult than a direct mail approach. A short article in a local newspaper may have the same effect as a mass mailing of newsletters and is relatively simple to place; radio and television can be more difficult since an announcement is generally subject to a time constraint of sixty to ninety seconds and
a limited amount of information can be presented. Additionally, a film or newsclip which might be apt to catch the eye of a television viewer, is likely to be expensive to produce and justified only for a large metropolitan area.
Public service announcements on both radio and television, which are usually thirty to sixty second statements, are run between programs at no cost. The effectiveness of these announcements also depends on how much information can be provided within the allotted period of time as well as what time of day the announcement is broadcasted.
The news media can be particularly useful during a crisis, such as a drought, where the nature of the emergency makes any drought-related activity of substantial news value. The media can also be worthwhile in reporting special interest-type news related to conservation; for example, the amount of water required by lawns at a particular point in the summer or the most appropriate species of shrubbery for a specific climate. News shows (such as Denver's Noonday), rather than newscasts, are a good source for this type of information; as well as week-end editions of major newspapers .
There are, of course, several measures available to the water supply agency which involves paid advertising. The strategies named above are "free" to the extent that the agency's costs are limited to the production of materials to supply to the media which could vary from a simple news release to a film. In general, a water utility could benefit more by taking advantage of the free aspects of the media and expending its limited funds on other types of informational programs.
Personal contact can include a variety of activities ranging from telephone calls and public tours of the water supply agency to speakers at schools and clubs. It can be one of the most important phases of the public information program since face-to-face contact has far greater impact than the considerably less personal printed materials or news media,
and it provides the most effective mechanism for feedback of the opinion
from water customers. The disadvantage to personal contact, however, is that it is more time consuming and, in general, not as far reaching as other forms of public information activities.
Speakers may be provided for schools, service clubs, and other interested community organizations. In addition to information, speakers can utilize slide shows or films. Slide shows are relatively inexpensive and can be updated on a continuing basis or altered to address itself more specifically to a particular interest group. When speakers are available, a letter can be sent to school officials, clubs, etc. offering the service of the speaker.
A community meeting, sponsored by the water agency, is another variety of personal contact event that may be included in a public information program. This could range from a public hearing to meetings with specialized groups. Special interest groups may sometimes be a successful means from which to gain insight into public reaction regarding a particular proposal, i.e., voluntary water restrictions, retrofit device distribution, etc.
There are several types of special projects and/or activities that are possible in order to promote water conservation. Their success depends largely on the ability of the water agency to generate interest as well as participa-
tion. Publicity for an event can be undertaken in several ways through the news media, fliers, posters in public places, and the mail. Water conservation exhibits are another means of providing information on water savings; they can be either expensive or inexpensive. The most useful exhibits can be transported from one location to another with relative ease and assembled at such places as schools, large meetings, shopping centers or malls, public areas, bank lobbies, or county fairs.
Public education programs developed specifically for school children may be a very effective activity. A school assembly provides a captive audience and schools appreciate and are eager for materials and/or speakers on relevant current events. In addition, the message of speakers or special programs are taken home so the adult population is indirectly reached through a student event. The intensity of the program can vary from speakers and exhibits to a complete series of educational materials designed for all grade levels. The East Bay Municipal Utility District, located in the Oakland, California area, has developed a comprehensive education program that is being utilized throughout the country; the activities of the East Bay District will be discussed later in this chapter.
In addition, special interest or service clubs can be useful in providing manpower to transport, assemble, or staff exhibits; distribute pamphlets or water conservation devices; or even sponsor contests for posters or ideas that would publicize further the conservation effort. Water conservation can be a rewarding project for a group to undertake and in which to become involved on a continuing basis.
The East Bay Municipal Utility District Public Education Program
There are several noteworthy public education programs throughout the United States. The East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD), previously mentioned, is of particular interest because of the emphasis it places on education in the schools. This section descibes EBMUD's unique program; other public information and water conservation programs are discussed in Chapter VIII.
The East Bay Municipal Utility District began its water conservation efforts in the early 1970s. The program was based on the belief of the water agency that their education program should affect the residential household to the greatest extent and that the public needs to be aware that it can contribute to extending existing supplies. Shortly after the District initiated its program, the area was stricken by a drought which made its efforts even more important and relevant. The EBMUD was well in advance of other water agencies who were forced to organize and provide conservation information and materials to their customers.
The East Bay Municipal Utility District has entitled its program "Project WATER" which stands for Water Awareness Through Education and Research and its overall goal is to instill a "water conscience" in East Bay residents; particularly in students who will be the water consumers of the future. Practical changes in consumption habits are emphasized rather than drastic alterations in lifestyle.
The first step in the EBMUD program was the preparation of public information booklets which were distributed upon request. Public relations materials have been dispersed in the form of buttons, posters, stickers, and T-shirts in an effort to call attention to the program and to gain
acceptance for its program. The EBMUD is responsible for developing one of the most extensive educational programs for children.
The EBMUD has developed an outstanding program for school children which uses many disciplines within the educational process but relates them to water. The program is aimed at all grades and corresponds to the various grade levels according to interest and ability. Primary grade school children are provided with a workbook entitled "Water Play" which contains puzzles, games, and other water-related activities. Upper elementary students use a comic book format, centered around Captain Hydro, a superman-type character who battles the "Water Bandit." (This is available for Colorado students through the Colorado Water Congress, under a grant awarded by the State Department of Education.) This Captain Hydro book also consists of exercises, puzzles, etc. dealing with water. The "Further Adventures of Captain Hydro" has been developed for junior high school pupils who, along with high school students, use a newsmagazine publication which features an interdisciplinary approach to conservation, "Water Conservation in the Community," Water Conservation through Science," and "Water Conservation at Home" are among the topic considered by the magazines.5
Among the other elements of the EBMUD conservation strategy in addition to the previously mentioned public relations items are: 1) the distribution of dye pills for toilet leak detection, 2) production of a film and slide show on water conservation (a Captain Hydro filmstrip has been created), and 3) a demonstration landscape has been developed to show that low-water use horticulture can be attractive yet reduce irrigation water demands.
The cost of the EBMUD Project WATER program has been estimated at $50,000 per year. Reduced per capita consumption has resulted, but the
levels have fluctuated considerably. The water district implemented a leak detection program for the area's water mains which has contributed to water savings but made it difficult to quantify which part of the conservation program contributed to reduced water usage.
The East Bay Municipal Utility District program described above is a comprehensive effort which utilized several combinations of methods to reach its customers. Some of the measures which the District adopted were costly; others incurred very little expense. A water agency, regardless of the size of its service area, can select the most affordable strategies to pursue. In cases where drought or emergency conditions exist, it may be worthwhile for an agency to authorize additional expenditures for the duration of the crisis; and then revert to simple and inexpensive means as part of an on-going program. The EBMUD serves a rather large metropolitan area where funds are budgeted for promotional and public-aimed programs; it is likely that most water agencies do not have similar or as extensive resources available. Hows/er, customer's water conservation consciousness will not be developed without an educational type of program and, in the long-run, the costs of providing additional water and treatment services will surpass the expense of a minimal program effort.
^Flack et al., page 115.
Mi Hi ken and Trumbly, page 10.
Lattic, page 3.
41bid., page 6.
5Flack, Op. Cit., page 130.
6East Bay Municipal Utility District.
The metering of residential water is use is another method of accomplishing water conservation; metering places an economic incentive on a consumer to save water. Metering contributes to conservation through a-chieving two primary objectives: First, customers are made aware of the extent of their water use and are charged rates in accordance with the volume of use. In other words, water usage is quantified. Second, metering provides the data necessary to permit the use of innovative pricing mechanisms designed to modify demand. Metering links price to the amount of water used and is a prerequisite to any type of pricing system other than a flat-rate structure. (Flat-rate pricing is the provision of water to customers for a standard pre-set fee; it does not vary by season, peak hour, etc.)
Metering has its most important effect on summer lawn and garden irrigation. A flat-rate pricing structure with no meters offers no motivation to water landscaping conservatively; homeowners assume that more water guarantees greener lawns. Customers who are metered and paying for water by gallons consumed are likely to water less and be more conscientious in terms of the quantity of water applied to their lawns. This is more apparent in semi-arid climates (such as Denver) where the water requirements of grass must be supplemented by irrigation on a regular basis.
Effects of Metering
Although quantifying the water savings attributable to metering is simpler than that of public education, it can still be a difficult calculation. Vari-
ations in climactic conditions, residents income levels, and lawn size all are
factors which strongly affect demand for water. Conservation induced by metering is inclined to be strong directly following installation, and with a long-term tendency to increase, particularly as related to summer irrigation.
A survey of cities which implemented metering was conducted by American City Magazine in 1973. A portion of the study examined several cities which had installed meters; the data collected showed that water consumption dropped twenty to fifty percent as a result of metering. When Boulder, Colorado implemented metering in 1965, total per capita water use decreased by thirty percent and in 1975, consumption remained twenty-six percent below pre-metered levels; a substantial reduction.
In a study conducted on landscape irrigation in metered and unmetered areas of Denver, Colorado, it was demonstrated that average annual application of water in metered areas was substantially less than that for flat-rate portions of the city.
A study by W. E. Green in 1972 calculated that levels of water savings ranged for 70 to 210 gallons per day per dwelling unit through the installa-
tion of meters in one city. Another survey of twenty-eight cities in northern Colorado shewed that metered communities consumed approximately thirty
percent less water than largely unmetered communities. Differences in the social, economic, and physical characteristics of a community are represented by different levels of water savings after metering.
Technology of Meters
The installation of meters is technologically feasible; the meters retain their accuracy for many years after their installation and require
only periodic maintenance. New innovations in meters are occuring which will reduce the costs of metering. Remote-reading meters and customer reading systems have been developed which are designed to reduce the expense to the utility of both reading the meters and performing the administrative functions of billing and record-keeping. In addition, a "demand" meter is currently in the preliminary design stage which can "achieve equitable charges based on water use with time."^ The demand meter would allow the utility great flexibility in its rate structures.
Costs of Installing Meters
Metering costs include both the initial cost of installation and the recurring costs of reading. The cost of one conventional bronze water meter is estimated to be between $300.00 and $500.00. It has been estimated, for example, that it would cost approximately thirty million dollars to meter all of the existing flat-rate customers in the Denver service area. This cost, in Denver and other conmunities, would probably be financed either through a bond sale or water bill surcharge; but ultimately would be a cost incurred by the customer. Smaller municipalities or rural towns may qualify for Federal loans to pay for water meter installation. (The City of Brighton, Colorado, for example, secured a Farmers Home Administration loan to finance its metering program.)
These loans, however, require repayment so metering installation costs are still generally borne by the customers.
Cities are now adopting ordinances which require that water meters be installed in all new construction. The City of Brighton passed such an ordinance in the early seventies and will begin reading these meters after a program to install meters in existing structures is completed in 1980. As a result of this early ordinance, in excess of half of the dwelling units in the City
In addition to the physical installation costs of the meters, another factor must be considered by the utility. A water supply agency which relies on guaranteed revenues generated by a flat-rate billing structure may experience difficulties in predicting the expected income after meter installation. Since metered customers are billed after usage, rather than before as flat-rate consumers, the agency will have to depend on trends in consumption to estimate its revenues; this will present some hardship during the first year or two of the metering program but will be a short-term problem. Reduction in water use; however, will decrease the costs of purchasing raw water supplies, pumping, and treatment (chemicals, power, plant maintenance, etc.) as well as the capacity of treatment facilities and the necessity for their construction or expansion. Based on these factors, metering will not be a long-term inconvenience.
Acceptability of Meters
In general, the public dislikes meters.^ Metering is usually associated with higher water bills, and although it represents a more equitable means of allocating the costs of water service, consumers are likely to react negatively. Because of the negative social attitudes and the high costs involved in meter installation, the political motivation for metering is not great.
The political impact; however, should be limited to the agency authorizing the installation.
Metering should be an integral part of a water conservation program. Metering encourages an interest in water use because charges are assessed
based on quantities of water actually consumed. Intallation of meters is particularly important because it is a prerequisite to any type of pricing structure other than flat-rates. It is the pricing structure (to be the subject of Chapter IV) that will have a significant effect on water conervation.
In order to avoid more extensive meter installation programs than are necessary, all new residential construction should be required to have meters. Metering should be undertaken by neighborhoods in older or existing areas. An on-going public information program should be in effect at the same time metering is proposed.
^Milliken and Trumbly, page 31.
Ibid., page 33.
Bryson, page 37.
4Green, page 16.
Flack, page 32.
Feldman, page 491.
7Milliken and Trumbly, Op. Cit.
, page 45.
In the past, water prices have been structured to generate sufficient
revenues to cover the costs of providing adequate service to a utility's
customers. Because water supply has become more difficult to obtain and
the costs of building facilities to treat and distribute water has greatly
increased, the concept of using price to encourage water conservation has
been adopted by a growing number of water supply agencies. For a water
utility seeking to motivate more efficient use of water, "nothing is as
simple, comprehensive, and effective as the pricing mechanism.The
National Water Commissions also recognized water as a "scarce resource"
and called for the shifting of water to its most productive uses through
the application of water pricing policies.
Changes in the price of water will affect the amount of water which
a customer will purchase and utilize in various consumptive activities. In
theory, he will continue to buy water until the marginal price equals the
marginal benefit to him for the purpose for which he is using it. This
is known as price elasticity and is an important concept in water pricing
policy. It can be defined as the "changed in relationship between the
quantity of demand resulting from a change in price" and it can be one of
the key elements in development of a conservation program. The basic
principle of pricing is that the more units consumed of a commodity, the
less valuable is the last unit. In other words, the greater the quantity of water used, the less the last unit is worth. As price is increased,
consumption should decrease. This is the underlying fundamental for in-cludina pricinq schemes in a conservation strateqv, especially in a semi-arid climate where the demand for irrigation water is great.
The pricing mechanism is particularly useful and attractive as a means of water reduction because decisions on the degree of reduction are left to the individual consumer. The effects of implementing a new rate structure may be immediate or may become more apparent during summer months. There are no negative environmental impacts association with new structures and the benefits to be realized could be quite substantial in relation to future resources.
There are several oricina schemes which can be adopted to establish water rates based upon the quantity of water used. A description of eight possible pricing methods to encourage conservation as well as an identification of the flat-rate structure are contained in the following section.
A flat-rate structure is a system in which each customer pays a fixed charge regardless of use; it does not require metering and it does not relate water payments to water use. Flat-rates may be set based on several factors including class of consumer (type of dwelling unit in which consumer resides), number and/or size of water connections, the number and type of water-using appliances or, in some cases, the value of the dwelling. The flat-rate system is ineffective for two primary reasons: 1) there is no automatic mechanism for increasino revenues, as costs for providing service due to growing demand increase and 2) it does not
offer any incentive to conserve water. The flat-rate structure is the simplest pricing scheme to administer and for some agencies may be more efficient than the expense of mater installation, and reading and billing. As the cost of water supply and treatment increases, metering and new pricing policies may prove more practical to those utilities still using the flat-rate structure.
2. Decreasing Block Rate
A decreasing block rate is a rate which is based upon the quantity of water used; as the quantity increases the rate for added consumption declines in a series of "steps" or "blocks." This is the rate structure currently used most widely by water companies. The total cost of water to the consumer with this type of rate is increasing, but at a decreasing rate.
In terms of water conservation, decreasing block rates can encourage, rather than discourage, water use. Since the unit cost of water decreases as consumption increases, little economic incentive to save water is derived from this structure.
3. Increasing Block Rate
Under this type of rate structure, the unit price of water increases by a "block" or "step" formula; the opposite of the decreasing block rate. The consumer pays one price for a specific quantity of water (for example, the first 10,000 gallons used per month) and then is charged a higher price for additional water (generally, in increments of 1,000 gallons). The higher rate applies only to water consumed above the first block; the total cost of water to the consumer increases at an increasing rate. This type of water
rate is particularly justified when the cost of supplying water is increasing at an increasing rate.
The incentive to reduce water waste is encouraged as consumption rises with an increasing block rate structure. This pricing scheme has an excellent potential to cause the largest water consumers to become the most conservation-oriented. The increasing block rate results in the greatest amount of water conservation.6 It can also be used in conjunction with other pricing schemes such as seasonal or spatial rates as will be demonstrated in this chapter.
4. Constant Unit Prices
Constant unit prices involve charges based directly on the amount of water used. The cost of water neither increases nor decreases related to consumption; however, water prices are adjusted accordingly as the cost of water supply increases. Constant unit prices promote conservation to a degree since customers pay for the amount of water they consume; the extent of water saved will depend on both the price and demand for water. The one disadvantage to this pricing method is that some consumers may be more difficult to provide with service; yet they are being charged an identical rate those more accessible customers. The more expensive customer is, in a sense, being subsidized and this creates an inequity in the system. As a result, variations in costs due to location or use are not reflected in water prices.
5. Seasonal Rate Structures
A seasonal rate structure charges more during the summer months, when water use is greatest, than during the winter. These rate schemes tend towards conservation because they discourage use during the summer months when the system id more liable to be under pressure from increased demand. Although this rate structure is more complicated for the agency to bill, it generates adequate revenues because a higher rate is charged for more expensive water, (Summer water is more costly because it increases capacity requirements.) This is an effective system because those who use water that is more expensive to provide, are charged a higher rate.
6. Hourly Peak Rates
Rates based upon hourly peaks provide adequate revenue and contribute to water conservation. The peak demand structure is designed to flatten out the demand curve. Hourly peak rates are rates which are higher during the "peak hours" or hours of greatest use (generally, in the morning between 7:00 and 9:00 A.M.). These rates are difficult to administer because an economically feasible meter has not be developed as yet; although a demand meter is in the design stages.
Seasonal rates may be more effective than hourly peak rates in reducing consumption because peak prices may be avoided by changing the time of day for water demand. Seasonal rates remain constant throughout the entire season.
7. Spatial Rates
Spatial rates are structured to increase as the distance from the utility to the consumer increases. This pricing structure discourages
urban sprawl and promotes water conservation since suburban customers with larger lots utilize more water for outdoor uses, such as lawn irrigation, than most urban dwellers. This pricing scheme requires metering and its major disadvantage is the difficulty in the billing process.
8. Excess Usage Charges
Excess usage charges involve a uniform charge for all units of water consumed, similar to that of the Constant Unit Price. However, an additional charge is assessed for those units consumed in excess of an individual customer's daily average consumption.
It would appear that this pricing scheme would require an extensive administrative effort and be equitable based upon summer and winter rates.
9. Summer Surcharge
The summer surcharge system is based upon a uniform charge per unit of water used. An additional charge is imposed for each unit of water that is greater than the amount of water actually used by the customer the previous winter. This rate structure differs from the seasonal rate scheme because the base value of water remains the same annually.
Feasibility of Innovative Pricing Techniques
The concept of increasing price to decrease water use is a fairly simple one and also one which is widely accepted. However, the amount of decrease to be expected is debatable. Those areas that have great demands for lawn and garden irrigation are the most affected by increases in price. This will also largely apply to single family dwelling units. In-house or
sanitary uses generally will not respond to increases in price.
Increasing block rates, escess use charges, or summer surcharge systems are pricing structures which seem to have the potential to promote water conservation. The summer surcharge, which places an additional cost on water above the amount of water consumed during the winter, would be an effective measure for curtailing summer water usage. The excess usage charge would theoretically be similar but would be utilized on a year round basis. The excess usage charge does not necessarily offer an incentive to conserve water. Those customers which maintain a higher average consumption level can avoid paying any excess use charges. The increasing block rate charges large water users higher rates for higher consumption; this pricing scheme may assist in reducing the demand of larger users.
The amount of water which can be conserved using pricing policy depends on the municipality, or water service agency. Most researchers avoid even estimating reduction but one study estimated a 13 gallong per capita per day (or 52 gallons per dwelling unit based on four persons per household) water
savings as a result of pricing policy changes. In addition, rate structures will be important in flattening out peak demands since customer may be penalized for peak usage. Not all pricing methods will be feasible for all water agencies and no agency should attempt radical changes in pricing without first undertaking a rate study of some type to determine how the costs of water service can be allocated most equitable among its customer.
The City of Westminster, Colorado amended its Water and Sewer Rate
Schedule in December 1977 to include both an inverted (or increasing)
block structure and a seasonal rate structure. The City has devised
Winter rates are in effect from November 1 through April 30. Summer rates prevail from May 1 to October 31. These rates are for three dwelling units or less connected to one meter. The rate schedule is set up as follows:
First 5,000 gallons
6,000 to 9,000 gallons
10,000 gallons and over
First 13,000 gallons
$1.00 per 1,000 gallons 1.25 per 1,000 gallons 1.50 per 1,000 gallons
$0.65 per 1,000 gallons 0.75 per 1,000 gallons 0.95 per 1,000 gallons 1.25 per 1,000 gallons
14.000 to 19,000 gallons
20.000 to 25,000 gallons
26.000 gallons and over As this schedule demonstrates, the price per thousand gallons of water
increases with each thousand gallons delivered to a consumer. The rates were set (for the initial or first block) based on the historical average amount necessary to satisfy the requirements of a single family home with an average sized yard. As a result of this pricing structure, the price of water will be reduced for small users, increased moderately for the medium user, and increased considerably for high volume consumers.
*Davis and Hanke, page 38.
^National Water Commission.
^Flack, page 43.
4Mi11i ken, page 29.
5Clark and Goddard, page 1.
6Chan, page 25.
^Greene, page 106.
8Flack, Op. Cit., page 105.
City of Westminster.
WATER CONSERVING DEVICES
Standard plumbing fixtures and appliances, in the past, have been designed with little regard for the amount of water they consume. Because of the seemingly infinite supply of cheap water, the manufacturers of plumbing devices never believed that a need existed for fixtures which consumed lower quantities of water. In the past ten years, a market for low flow plumbing devices has been developing and many new types of plumbing devices and fixtures now are available for widespread distribution. Water saving devices offer the potential for an inexpensive and lasting approach to water conservation. Retrofit devices will not interfere with water use habits, are easily installed into existing fixtures, and are socially acceptable.
Almost every type of household water use fixture can be designed to use less water.'*' Many devices have been developed in an effort to reduce toilet-flushing volumes. Reduced flow showerheads and faucet controls have become widely used, and low-volume washing machines are easily available. Although the manufacturers of these fixtures have made claims regarding the quantity of water saved by the various devices, research indicates that varying results have been observed and that opinions differ as to the savings that may be obtained realistically.
Two groups of water saving devices will be considered in this chapter: those which may be retrofitted into existing structures and those which may practically be required in new construction.
1. Toilet Tank Water Savers
Bricks and other objects have been used to save water in flush toilets that are designed to use more water than is necessary for adequate flushing. The brick is placed in the toilet reservoir, and the water it displaces is saved every time the toilet is flushed.
A plastic bottle filled with water placed into the water closet is a more satisfactory displacement method because the brick can damage the porcelain toilet if dropped or tipped over. When the toilet is flushed, the plastic bottle holds back the volume of water it contains. Unlike the bricks, the plastic bottles do not cost anything, will not break the toilet if dropped accidentally, and will not deteriorate in water. It is estimated that bricks or plastic bottles save about one-half gallon of water per flush.
Plastic dams, or toilet reservoir volume reducers, are also now available. These devices "dam off" a portion of the toilet reservoir and retain that water when the toilet is flushed. Plastic dams can be expected to save approximately one gallon of water per flush; in a testing program sponsored by the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, the
usage reduction in single family dwelling units ranged from sixteen
to twenty six percent. It is important that the damming devices be adjusted properly or double flushing becomes necessary, defeating the purpose of the device. Toilet dams cost approximately $4.39 installed, have no operation and maintenance costs, and can be
expected to last for approximately twenty five years.
Float assemblies of improved design are now available at most hardware stores. Water savings are achieved using the devices by adjusting than to maintain a lower water level in the toilet tank and by improved leak detection features. The improved float assemblies are installed easily in most conventional water closets and may be purchased for approximately five dollars.^
Dual flush cycle modifications convert a conventional toilet to dual
cycle operation; i.e., a two cycle flushing capability with one cycle
for liquids and one cycle for solids. The objective of these devices
is to reduce the amount of water used to flush away liquid wastes.
The liquid cycle of this toilet uses approximately one and one-quarter
gallons per flush; the solid waste cycle uses about two and one-half
gallons per flush. A 1974 study performed by Cohen and Wallman of
the General Dynanics Corporation found that about three and three-
tenths gallons per capita per day could be saved through use of a
dual flush device.
2. Shower Head Devices
Flow limiting showerheads are designed to deliver less water per unit than conventional models. These showerheads decrease the volume of water passing through the showerheads. Shower flow control inserts are inserted in the water line just behind the showerhead. The flow control inserts limit flow to three gallons per minute for showers, opposed to normal flow from showers which is four gallons per minute and up. Flow limiting showerheads reduce the flow rate to about two and one-half to three gallons. The actual amount of water savings that these devices will conserve is difficult to esti-
mate because shower intensity and duration differ among individuals.^
Flow restrictors can be installed in an existing showerhead for approximately $1.50. The devices are maintenance-free and require replacement after fifteen years of use. The reduced flow showerheads are available for about $25.00 (about $5.00 more than conventional showerheads), also require no maintenance, and can be expected to last for fifteen years.
3. Faucet Control Devices
Faucet control devices operate in the same manner as shower flow controls. The installation of an insert in the supply line can reduce the delivery rate of water to between one-half and four gallons 7
per minute. Water savings estimates of one-half to one gallon per capita per day have been calculated.
The use of aerators and spray taps are two methods of reducing the amount of water structurally. Aerators are nothing more than a fine mesh screen attached to the end of the faucet, thus breaking up the flow of water and allowing air to enter. These devices do not affect the supply line, but cause a "thicker" flow pattern so that the perceived volume of water is reduced. Aerators do not decrease the amount of water required for filling fixed volumes but are effective in re-
ducing the quantity of water needed for rinsing. An estimate of between one-half to three-quarters gallons per capita per day is believed possible for faucet aerators.
The spray tap is a fairly new development in conservation devices and
is used extensively in Europe. These taps are actually mini-showers designed for use in lavatory sinks and wash basins. Water is sprayed from the tap rather than flowing from the faucet in a single stream.
The spray permits faster washing and rinsing with less water use as a consequence. Although these taps are utilized primarily in commercial buildings, decreases of over fifty percent have been recognized.
Water Saving Appliances and Fixtures in New Construction
1. Low Water Using Apliances
The clothes washing machine and the dishwasher are the principal water using applianoes in a residential structure. Clothes washer water requirements vary from thirty eight to sixty nine gallons according to Consumer Reports Magazine.^ Front loading machines use one third less water than top loaders but do smaller loads of laundry. Some machines are equipped with a suds saver option. Water savings of twenty to twenty six percent have been estimated utilizing the suds saver which allows for reuse of wash water. The disadvantage to this type of machine is that it requires a utility sink to be located next to the washer. Some recent models have the water reuse reservoir built into the base of the machine which may allow them to be used on a more widespread basis. Another feature of a water conserving nature on clothes washing machines is a variable water level control, which provides the correct amount of water (low-medium-high) required for individual loads of laundry.
Automatic dishwashers consume between twelve and eighteen gallons of water per cycle. A survey conducted by the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission indicates that adjustment of the cycle has been esti-
mated to result in savings of from seven and one-half to twelve and one-half in various models of dishwashers.
2. Alternative Toilets
The shallow trap toilet is a reduced volume water closet which can easily replace the conventional toilet in new construction. Unless new plumbing fixtures are required in existing structures, the shallow trap toilet would not generally be cost effective. The shallow trap toilet is a modification of the conventional toilet with changes in the tank volume and bowl design. The shallow trap toilet saves a-bout one and one-half gallons per flush over the traditional water closet, or utilizes three and one-half gallons per flush rather than the standard toilet's five gallons per flush.
The air pressure toilet, a toilet which uses two and one-half gallons of water per flush, is currently available in the United States. It utilizes the pressure of the water supply line to compress air in the toilet tank; the increased tank pressure is employed for the rinsing action. A critical consideration in the installation of these toilets is its location in the dwelling unit in relation to the rest of the household water using fixtures. Placement on a sewer line with a relatively small slope may case drainage problems (less volume of water to help in movement of solids). These toilets are better installed in
new construction which can be designed to accommodate the air pressure
. ., 10
The following table presents a summary of all of the above information on water use by various household devices as a means of comparing the different retrofit devices.
WATER USE BY VARIOUS HOUSEHOLC ) DEVICES11
Per Capita Per Household^9) Per Capita Savings
Device Gallons/Day qpd/du gal/.yr over Cons. Devices
Regular Toilet 25.00^) 100.00 36,500
Plastic Bottles 22.50^) 90.00 32,850 2.50
Water Dams 20.00^ 80.00 29,200 5.00
Dual Flush 18.75^) 75.00 27,375 6.25
Shallow Trap Toilet 17.50(c) 70.00 25,550 7.50
Air Pressure Toilet 12.50^ 50.00 18,250 12.50
Regular Faucet 6.00 24.00 8,760
Aerated Faucet 3.50^ 14.00 5,110 2.50
Regular Showerhead 20.00 80.00 29,200
Reduced Flow Showerhead ^Assumes 4 persons per (^Assumes 5 flushes dai (^Retrofit device. 12.00(c) household. iy. 48.00 17,520 8.00
As the above table indicates, water saving devices will reduce water use.
A precise quantification of the amount of water conserved is difficult until
actual use conditions can be measured.
One of the most difficult aspects of implementing any type of water conservation program will be its social acceptability. In terms of a retrofitting
approach, those devices which do not inconvenience the user or force him to
drastically change his habits will be better received. The faucet aerator and
spray taps are considered conveniences; water saving toilets do not cause the
consumer inconvenience if maintained properly. Other toilet devices; for example,
the dual flush modification or the plastic toilet dam may not be as acceptable
because they may potentially cause some impediment because of problems either
in their performance or design. The water saving clothes washers and/or dishwashers
have met with neutral acceptability since both appliances perform at the same
level of efficiency. The inconvenience of resetting controls seems to be weighed against the saving of water in these machines. The success of flow limiting showerheads is dependent mainly upon the consumers' bathing habits.
If the flow restricting showerhead is the cause of extended showers than its value as a water conservation device may be negligible.
Methods of Implementation
The most effective means of gaining widespread use of water saving or retrofit devices is by making their installation mandatory by implementing building code modifications (to be discussed in greater detail in Chapter VI) or through voluntary distribution programs, such as that undertaken a few years ago by the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission.
On September 25, 1979, the Town of Breckenridge, Colorado amended a 1976 ordinance to include a section which required the installation of water conservation devices on all water fixtures by owners of real property within the Town. The ordinance required the following retrofit devices:
1. Showerhead flow reducing devices limiting flow to a maximum of 3h gallons per minute; and
2. Water closet reservoir devices designed to reduce the flush tank
type toilets to 3% gallons or less; and
3. Faucet aerator devices limiting flow to a maximum of 4 gallons per minute.*
The ordinance further instructs that a representative of the Town will enter upon the premises to determine that the mandates devices have, in fact, been installed. A follow-up inspection is also a requisite of Ordinance 16.
Any property owner who fails to comply with the new regulation will have his water rate doubled until he observes the ordinance.
Other communities have attempted to encourage a retrofitting effort through voluntary cooperation of water consumers. The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission's program (to be discussed in detail in Chapter VIII) is an excellent sample; a more local example is the City of Westminster which has been an innovator in water conservation in the Denver region. The City makes conservation devices available to its consumers through its water supply agency. The devices are inexpense, costing approximately one dollar each, and the price is incorporated into the customer's utility bill. The retrofit device distribtuion program was undertaken at approximately the same time that Westminster adopted an Inverted (or increasing) block rate structure which additionally includes a seasonal, or "irrigation" and "non-irrigation", pricing scheme.
As previously stated, water conservation or retrofit devices in both existing and new construction has the potential to be an effective strategy for saving water. The devices make more efficient use of water than conventional fixtures. Obviously, it is preferable that their installation occur on a voluntary basis. This would require a simultaneous public information program to explain and promote the devices; once it becomes apparent that the devices: 1) will produce little or no inconvenience, 2) are inexpensive, and 3) are installed easily
by a member of the household, they will be readily approved. A device installation program that is required by ordinance may necessitate a more intensive education effort which should demonstrate the results in water savings after the devices have been installed and utilized, and emphasize the need for conservation. Regardless of which approach is undertaken for retrofitting, it is too effective of a water conservation strategy to be ignored or neglected.
^Flack et al., page 14.
2Brigham, page 687.
3Flack et al., Op Ctt., page 59 4Sharpe and Fletcher, page 92.
5Cohen and Hallman, page 12.
Slilne, page 6.
^North Marin County, page 7.
^Flack et al., Op Cit., page 22.
Consumer Reports Magazine, page 612.
10Flack et al, Op Cit., page 10.
Ibid., page 79.
Mi Hi ken, page 25.
Breckenridge Ordinance Number 16.
ORDINANCES AMD CODES FOR NEW CONSTRUCTION;
CHANGES IN HORTICULTURE
The following chapter describes two specific methods of water conservation which can be particularly effective in terms of water savings in new construction. First, ordinances and codes may be amended or rewritten to require water conserving plumbing fixtures [shallow trap toilets, flow restricting showerheads, faucet aerators) in all new structures. Second, changes in landscaping to include more indigenous-types of trees, shrubs, and ground covering may be a more realistic approach in new construction rather than existing residential. Although both water saving plumbing fixtures and native landscaping-types are possible in existing structure, the greatest potential for water-savings using these conservation measures lies in new development.
Ordinances and Code for New Construction
Regulations requiring the installation of water saving devices or fixtures can yield a substantial reduction in water use.* Although few states have enacted legislation mandating these fixtures, government at local levels have revised codes and ordinances to accommodate these regulations. In certain cases, such as the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, it is within the jurisdiction of the water supply agency to authorize changes and administer a plumbing code.
The State of California is one state which has enacted legislation prescribing water conservation devices. In April 1976, an act was approved by
Governor Brown adding a section to the Health and Safety Code relating to water closets. This new law states that: "After January 1, 1978, no new hotel, motel, apartment house, or dwelling shall be constructed which employs a tank-type water closet that uses more than an average of 3% gallons
of water per flush and which is not approved by the department as meeting
adequate standards of safety and sanitation." The act further finds water closets with conservation devices acceptable if they meet performance standards determined by the State.
At a more local level, the Goleta County Water District (west of Santa Barbara, California) adopted a series of ordinances as part of their conservation program. Ordinance No. 74-1 requires the installation of water-saving devices in new construction.
North Marin County (in the San Francisco Bay area) was a frontrunner in developing water conservation strategies; this area was severely affected by the drought of the mid-seventies. Regulation 15 of the North Marin County Water District (August 17, 1976) refuses to furnish water service to any applicant unless the following interior plumbing fixtures are installed:
1. Toilets that use no more than 3% gallons per flush or toilets with flush valves installed;
2. Showerheads containing flow control inserts, valves, or devices which restrict flow to a maximum of 3 gallons per minute; and
3. Kitchen and lavatory faucets with aerators as well as flow control inserts, etc. that restrict flow to a maximum of approximately 2 gallons per minute.
In addition, the water district has developed a series of performance standard-type codes for inside and outside water saving devices and techniques for new development. Different classes of customers (i.e., single family, apartments, commercial, industrial) have codes to which they must adhere in order to secure water service.
DuPage County, Illinois (located in the Chicago area, major city is Wheaton) amended its County Plumbing Ordinance of 1948 in July 1977 mandating maximum 3.5 gallons toilet tanks, 3.0 gallon per minute showerheads, and 3.0 gallon per minute lavatory sink faucets. This ordinance amendment differed slightly from the prior mentioned ordinances because its adoption was not prompted by a drought or water shortage but because it was deemed to be
"expedient and in the best interest of the general public."
The Executive Summary of the Denver Water Department (June 20, 1979) outlines the major elements of the Water Department's "Institutionalized Water Conservation Program." This program was initiated in order for Denver to meet the 1982 goals of per capita water consumption reduction set forth in the Foothills agreement. Legislative changes in local building codes in the Denver Water Department service area will be required for implementation of one phase of the program. The Water Department, in cooperation with the Denver Building Department, will develop basic code changes leading to the reduction of water usage in new and rehabilitated properties. This portion of the overall approach includes the design of "performance" rather than "specification" type code changes with the Building Department, home builder, remodeling contractors, plumber, etc. being provided a "uniform, simplified
series of rules and regulations."
The success of Building Code modifications in a conservation program de-
pends greatly on the rate of growth and development occurring in the county, city, water district, etc. Changes in plumbing and/or building codes would not be particularly effective in completely developed areas except in the case of renovations or rehabilitations. A building code which mandates shallow trap toilets, flow restricting showerheads, and faucet aerators in new installations can realize savings of as much as eighteen and one-half gallons per capita per day (based on the table in Chapter V, page 42) in excess of the quantity of water used by conventional devices. This assumes per capita consumption of fifty one gallons through the use of non-conserving plumbing fixtures and thirty two and one-half using the above mentioned savings devices.
A household of four can expect to save as much as seventy two gallons per day, or 26,280 gallons annually. When this figure is multiplied by the number of water consumers in a utility service area, this can total quite a significant reduction. More importantly, domestic water use is the least affected by public information because, in most cases, it requires the alteration of well-established patterns of behavior. Structural changes, such as these plumbing fixtures, may be a more lasting (and more simply quantifiable) method of dealing with domestic conservation, since they represent "unconscious" modification.
Changes in Horticulture
Residential lawn sprinkling is the highest consumer of a household's water; the Denver Water Department estimates that 57% of water demand in the
Denver Service Area is for lawn and garden irrigation. Conservation in landscape irrigation is potentially the most effective element in a conservation program; particularly in a semi-arid climate such as that of Denver.
There are three changes in horticulture which can affect lawn watering usage: 1) changes in plant types, 2) changes in landscaping, and 3) changes in lawn watering methods.
Most lawns in the Denver area today are of the blue grass variety (found in arid climates) which requires large applications of water to maintain its greeness and thickness. Native specifies of grass and plants need much less water than imported species. Grasses such as Buffalo Grass, Blue Grama,
and Yellow Bluestem sharply reduce watering requirements. The use of cactus in desert or arid landscapes can also greatly decrease irrigation requirements. The degree to which the public accepts these changes in species is the primary factor in dtermining the amounts of water that will be saved. An important aspect in their acceptance is the availability of alternative types of landscaping through local nurseries and sod farms.
The slope of a lawn and its shading are two physical landscaping considera-
tions which can affect the watering requirements of a lawn area. The less steep the slope of the land, the greater the water contact time and the less the runoff. Broad leaf trees can provide shade and protect the lawn from the hot summer sun; nutrients to the soil can lead to more efficient water use.
The use of gravel and rock in place of grass in areas of the lawn will also reduce water consumption and provide attractive variations in landscape design.
Changes in the methods used to irrigate landscaping by the individual household are an important part of the conservation program. In many areas, mandatory watering restrictions have been imposed which have limited watering to a few days per week and, in some cases, a restricted number of hours on the "watering day." This type of watering schedule, whether mandatory or voluntary, can
discourage overwatering. A determination by the homeowner of his specific watering needs for a particular day and whether watering was actually necessary at all is another means of saving water that would be more effective in the ongoing public information program. Rather than saturating a lawn to a point where excess water does nothing but run down sidewalks and gutters, a measured amount of water can be applied. Automated sprinkling systems controlled by soil-moisture sensing devices are also effective, but costly. Sprinkling only when the lawn requires it, rather than on a regular basis, is an efficient means of conservation.
As stated earlier, there is a greater potential for water saving in new construction through the use of more drought resistant landscaping or less landscaping, and water saving devices for lawn irrigation. In the case of new landscaping, for example, the City of Westminster has adopted a schedule of "bonus units" which are granted to developers for partially dryscaping lots, soil preparation efforts, and the construction of water saving irrigation systems. ("Bonus units" allow the developer slightly higher densities.) The City of Denver's Planned Unit Development Ordinance requires that not more than sixty percent of the open space area of a site be landscaped with grass.
A variety of equipment is available for the construction of irrigation systems. Although this equipment is generally expensive, its costs may be justified in high density residential or commercial developments where large expanses of landscaped area must be irrigated. The control offered by these systems can achieve immediate savings of water because they automatically irrigate at appropriate times and more efficiently distribute water. Additional sprinkling equipment such as devices which override the controller of the
sprinkling system to avoid unnecessary irrigation are available, but again, are quite expensive. Any irrigation system will perform at its best if used simultaneously with soil preparation
The savings in water which can be realized by changes in horticulture are difficult to predict. According to a study by J. Ernest Flack, it could range from zero to one hundred percent of current water usage depending on
the degree of change which can be accomplished. Flack estimates that at least twenty five gallons per day per dwelling unit could be saved by altering watering habits and changing the types of landscaping used. Conversion to desert or indigenous landscapes as well as adoption of water efficient sprinkling methods could signficantly reduce water use.
^Milliken and Trumbly, page 21.
State of California Health and Safety Code.
Du Page County, Illinois Ordinance.
Denver Water Department Executive Summary, page 4. Mil liken and Trumbly, Op. Cit., page 10.
6Uno, page 3.
7Flack et al., page 41.
8Flack et al., Ibid., page 114.
MATER REUSE AND RECYCLING
In the past, water service utilities have had to develop new sources of raw water supply to meet the increasing demands for water. Traditionally, water is obtained for one of two sources, surface or groundwater supplies; it is treated when necessary, distributed to its ultimate user, returned to the wastewater facility for treatment, and then discharged. Until recent years, the concept of reusing or recycling water has been largely neglected. Since water has become increasingly in demand and supplies have begun to diminish, a new awakening of interest in recycling has occurred. There are several types of recycling which will be discussed.
System recycling on a total system or municipal basis has lately become a widely promoted technology by the Environmental Protection Agency. The water use can result in water for agricultural, industrial, or domestic uses; the reuse of water for potable purposes is also an idea which is currently being translated into action. Water reuse in the home is also a conservation method of the future which shows promise. Both system and individual in-house recycling will be described in this chapter.
Municipal Water Recycling
The State of California recycled over 175,000 acre feet of waste-water in 1970, according to its Department of Natural Resources. Of this total amount, seventy eight percent was used to irrigate farmland, eight percent for sprinkling golf courses, seven percent for landscape watering in parks or along freeways, four percent by cities for cooling and fire protection, and two percent for recreational uses, such as boating and
swimming.1 Locally, the City of Aurora, Colorado uses treated effluent to irrigate one of its municipal golf courses. This is known as indirect recycling. Treated sewage effluent has been indirectly recycled into the municipal water systems of small communities in Kansas and Iowa during emergencies and, abroad in countries such as Israel, South Africa, and Great Britain, recycled water is being used to supplement water supplies.
Indirect recycling of water is found generally in the reuse of sewage effluent for agricultural irrigation purposes; a concept which is becoming more widespread; possibly because of strong encouragement (or prodding) on the part of the Federal government. Environmental Protection Agency regulations adopted in 1977 require that any municipality seeking Federal funds for construction or expansion of wastewater treatment facilities must evaluate treatment technology which includes the potential for recycling or reclaiming effluent for other uses (Section 201 of the Clean Water Act of 1977). The EPA offers an additional ten percent in grant monies to a municipality which utilizes an "innovative" or "alternative" technology in the treatment of sewage; for example, reuse or recycling. This includes the application of sewage that has received preliminary (or an acceptable degree) of treatment to croplands. A system was developed at Pennsylvania State University which uses sprinkler irrigation to apply effluent to forest and cultivated croplands.
At the present time, the sentiment towards direct recycling of waste-water is reflected in this statement issued jointly by the American Water Works Association and the Water Pollution Control Federation: "Current scientific knowledge and technology in the field of wastewater treatment are not
advanced sufficiently to permit direct use (drinking, laundry, bathing, etc.)
of treated wastewater as a source of public supply.' Public attitudes currently oppose the use of recycled water for drinking, cooking, or bathing, but consider indirect domestic uses, such as toilet flushing or lawn irrigation, acceptable. A Gallup Poll in the Journal of the American Mater Works in 1973 reported that fifty four percent of those surveyed would be adverse to drinking recycled sewage. Other researchers have con-eluded that the technology is not sufficiently advanced to develop a clear picture of what the social reaction will be. The above quotation seems to respond to the overall feeling toward recycled water.
The Denver Water Department, however, believes that direct recycling of effluent is a possibility. The Water Department was recently awarded a seven million dollar grant by the Environmental Protection Agency for the construction of a pilot plant which will recycle one million gallons of effluent per day into potable water. The Water Department plans to get twenty five percent or one hundred million gallons per day of its fresh water supply from purified wastewater by the end of the twentieth century.
This facility would take transbasin return flows and reintroduce them into the potable water system.
Successive use of water is another system means a municipality may pursue to conserve water for domestic purposes. The City of Westminster, Colorado has developed the first Federally-funded successive use program in the State of Colorado. This system uses borrowed water from the Farmer's High Line Canal as a source of municipal water supply. After it is used for domestic purposes, the City treats the water then releases it back to the canal for the farmers to utilize in the irrigation of their crops. While the water
is not actually recycled within the municipal system, the water usage is extended and it benefits both the community and the farmers. In addition, the farmers have reported that the nutrients from the effluent have been advantageous to their crops. The City of Northglenn, Colorado is in the process of constructing a similar, although not identical (but much more controversial), system which will exchange treated sewage with farmers owning water rights on the Bull Canal in Weld County.
Another direct recycling system which has received attention in recent years and is in effect in a few small communities in the United States is the dual water supply. This municipal-type system differs from the system proposed by Denver because it does not treat all water to the standards required for drinking water. In a dual system, high quality water would be furnished for drinking, cooking, diswashing, and cleaning. Recycled water would be supplied for toilet flushing, irrigation, air conditioning, and clothes washing.
The cost-effectiveness of a dual water supply system is site specific and is dependent mainly upon the water situation of the water service agency. An area with a great deal of sprinkling activity might find the dual system to be quite practical. The price and availability of fresh water supplies is a major consideration when evaluating the implementation possibilities of a dual system. In addition, projections of an area's growth, its comprehensive and land use plans, topography, and climate are among the factors which assist in determination of a dual system's justification. The size of the facility which will be required for a dual system in a municipality is of the upmost importance and must be carefully compared to the size and
cost of water and wastewater facilities and obtaining new water supply.
The cost of the individual connection in the home has been shown to be in the approximate range of $252.00 to $624.00 per dwelling unit; the connections for a conventional system range from $343.00 to $939.00 per household.
The great expense in the dual water system is in the development of a municipal distribution system which can transport two types of water to a household.
The greatest potential of dual systems may be recognized by its elimination of peak demands for high quality treated water. Lawn irrigation reuse would signficantly lower treatment costs for potable water by lowering peak demand. It is possible that dual systems could be particularly effective in systems with large irrigation demands, as previously mentioned. The overall water savings which may be assumed are difficult to assess accurately; savings are dependent upon the quantities of water entering the reclamation plant.
It is estimated that savings in water use could exceed 532 gallons per day
per dwelling unit during irrigation months.
A study by A. K. Deb and M. J. Ives has estimated that eighty five percent of total supply could be provided by the nonpotable portion of this system. Several small communities in the United States are using dual systems including Catalina Island and Coalinga, California; St. Petersburg, Florida; and Tucson, Arizona.
Individual Recycling Systems
There are two principal reasons for reusing water with the home: first, to reduce water demand and, second, because less wastewater is produced. The wastewater generated by domestic uses (bathing, laundry, dishwashing) is known as grey water; it is the water polluted by soap wastes from the above specified activities. Black water are those flows containing high
concentrations of organic matter, such as the water used in toilet flushing. Conventional sewer treatment processed both the grey and black wastewater; the objective of an in-house recycle system is to reuse the grey water for nonpotable household uses.
Water in a recycling system may be used more than once or "cascaded" in a sequence of uses which can require progressively less sanitary conditions.5 For example, bath or shower water may be reused in the clothes washer then used once again to flush the toilet. Another method of recycling water in the home is to reuse it in the same appliance; the suds saver washing machine discussed in Chapter IV is a recycling appliance.
The installation of a recycling system would necessitate a water storage tank large enough to hold the water until it can be used. This will be a primary element in the system since different types of water use occurs at various times in a household. The size of the tank will depend upon the quantity of available water to be recycled. The tank must be equipped with a drain leading directly to the sewer for situations when an excess supply exists. A pump may be required to pressurize the water for use in the toilet; a small pressure differential is also required to circulate the water through a filter between storage tank and pump to remove the
debris. A pressure tank is required to provide a supply of water under pressure for toilet flushing. Finally, the regular drains from the bathroom plumbing fixtures (with the exception of the toilet) and laundry should be disconnected and sealed; the drains must be carried to the storage tanks. At the present time, the installation on an in-house recycling system is calculated to cost approximately $500.00.^
The amount of water conserved by a home recycle system varies. Estimates range from 44 to 144 gallons per day for a household of four, depending upon the quantity of water stored. Since the technology is not fully developed, it is difficult to determine exactly how much water will be saved.
The ideal water recycling system would be one which accomplishes onsite water treatment. One such system has been developed by the Pure Cycle Corporation, located in Boulder, Colorado. The Pure Cycle System is a totally contained household water recycling system that produces water of the highest quality while at the same time eliminating sewer
requirements for water disposal. According to the Pure Cycle Corporation, the costs of installing and operating its system is "realistically" competitive with a centralized system because it eliminates the need for water and sewer lines, lift stations, treatment plants, etc. Another advantage is that it conserves energy by using electrical power to treat waste rather than transport or pump it. The Pure Cycle Corporation claims that its water purification process will produce "crystal clear" water that may be used for all household purposes and that satisfies (more than satisfies, in some cases) Environmental Protection Agency Interim Drinking Water Standards (also, the Colorado State Department of Health criteria). The Town of Dillon, Colorado recently approved the installation of a Pure Cycle System and Jefferson County, Colorado is examining it as a possibility. The system appears well-suited for outlying areas which have been difficult and costly to provide with water and sewer service.
Social and Political Acceptability of Water Reuse and Recycling
The social acceptance of reusing wastewater for toilet flushing is posi-
tive according to most surveys.9 Reuse of water for lawn watering is less favorable because of the increased possibility for ingestion or body contact. Higher quality water apparently will be necessary for irrigation than toilet flushing. The standards of water quality for toilet flushing are based primarily on aesthetics and staining limits rather than on health criteria.
Both water uses seem to be agreeable to the public so long as the recycled water is not heavily polluted or objectionable in any way.
Elected officials and public health authorities do not share the general public's growing enthusiasm for recycling because of their responsibility for protecting the public's health.*'9 The possibility of a cross connection is a primary concern; and toilet water reuse may be precluded because of health risks associated with this type of recycle.
'Milne, page 13.
Joint Resolution of the American Water Works Association and Water Pollution Control Federation.
3Flack et al., page 90.
4Flack et al., Ibid., page 91.
McLaughlin, page 133.
^McLaughlin, Ibid., page 134.
7McLaughlin, Ibid., page 135.
Pure Cycle Corporation brochure,
Bostian et al., page 17.
10Bailey, page 86.
EXISTING WATER CONSERVATION PROGRAMS
The necessity for water conservation programs by municipal water utilities is an advent of the 1970s. During the past decade, water agencies have been forced to confront shortages in water or deficiencies in water and sewer treatment plant capacity; both of which have caused them to examine methods to reduce unnecessary water waste by residential customers. The Environmental Protection Agency has implemented a regulation which denies funding for expanded or new treatment plant construction to municipalities which do not present them with a structured water conservation program designed specifically to reduce per capita daily water consumption. Water agencies must provide estimates of the expected reductions and the proposed facility must be resized accommodating the capacity resulting from the conservation program. As a result of this regulation and the increasing difficulty in acquiring new supplies of raw water to meet the needs of growing populations, the promotion of water conservation is becoming an item to be included in the operating budget of many water utilities.
Chapter II, Public Information/Education, describes one of the most successful water conservation programs developed in recent years. The East Bay Municipal Utility District has been a frontrunner in the development of conservation-related activities and the materials that it has produced have received widespread attention by water service agencies throughout the United States. The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, which has been referred to several times during the course of this paper, serves a one thousand square mile are of suburban Maryland (within close proximity to the District of Colum-
bia), has devoted considerable sums of money to the development of what is perhaps the most comprehensive and sophisticated water conservation program in existence to date. A description of this program follows. Discussions of programs of local interest, such as that of the Denver Water Department and the City of Westminster, are also contained within this chapter.
Water Conservation Program of the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission Among the pioneers in conservation programs is the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC), which serves the Maryland area adjacent to Washington, D. C. The WSSC began encouraging water conservation in the early seventies primarily because of a sewer capacity crisis but also as a result of general public interest in cleaning up the environment, of rising water and sewer rates, and a belief of the Commission that public participation is an important aspect of resource management.1 A comprehensive water savings program was adopted by the WSSC in 1971 after early, low budget efforts proved to be successful.
A customer "Water Saving Idea Contest" was the initial event of the program with the best entries compiled into a handbook and mailed directly to customers; a second handbook directed towards apartment dwellers was designed and distributed through property managers. The handbook was received enthusiastically, both in terms of reduction in water usage and personal interest on the part of customers in the program. In addition, the WSSC pursued several other flow reduction projects in subsequent years including:
1) Organization of water saving workshops for property managers in the service area to demonstrate water saving appliances and fixtures, and present information on appliance installation, leak detection and repair, and water pressure reduction.
2) Development of a slide-speaker program on water saving workshops for delivery to civic and special interest groups.
3) Assembly of product data on water saving appliances. This information sheet is revised and updated continually, and circulated to customers of the Commission.
4) Preparation of television and radio public service spot announcements. The spots related the water conservation effort to saving money and reducing the loads on the community's wastewater treatment system.
5) Maintenance of a continuing publicity program including regular features and progress releases on the water saving program.
6) Implementation of a special program to evaluate performance of retrofit devices in existing structures. This was done by retrofitting customer units in one drainage basin within the WSSC service area.
The results of this program provided the Commission with data from which to substantiate recommendations for insertion of devices.
7) Adoption of plumbing code changes which mandate water saving fixtures in all new construction.
8) Development of community relations aids such as bumper stickers, buttons, t-shirts, postcards, balloons, etc.
9) Development of a "Bottle-Leak Detection Kit" which consisted of three plastic quart bottles for flush water displacement, two dye pills for checking leaks in household toilets, and an instruction pamphlet on how to use the bottle and dye tablets. A distribution program was undertaken to insure that as many homes and apartments as possible received the kits. Service groups were asked to assist in assembling
of the kits prior to distribution. The kits were followed up with questionnaires enclosed in water and sewer bills to determine the number of customers who used the kits and their success. The bottle kit program involved an expenditure of approximately fifty cents per customer.
10) The year following the bottle kit project, the WSSC offered shower control inserts to its customers through pamphlets inserted into water bills. The retrofit devices, easily installed by the household members, reduces shower flow to three gallons per minute.
11) Sponsorship of a Water Saving and Waste Reduction poster contest offering Savings Bonds as prizes was another element of the program. Entries were used in slide shows, exhibits, etc. and eventually published for distribution.
12) Formation of a Water Conservation Club to encourage participation of youngsters in the conservation effort.
13) Production of a twenty minute conservation film entitled "Drip" which has been made available to municipal utilities and water agencies throughout the nation.
14) A publication called "Keeping the Garden Green" which describes water conservation applied to lawn and garden care.
15) Development of a conservation-oriented rate schedule which involved extensive public participation. This included citizens' advisory groups, speakers bureaus, direct mail information, community workshops, and the required formal public hearing. The WSSC's customers played an integral role in the ultimate rate structure which was developed.
As a result of the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission's ongoing public information and participation program, daily per capita water consumption
has declined by approximately twenty five gallons per day. The Commission has saved on an average of 5.4 million gallons per year because of its program and the devices which were promoted as part of it.
Although the total costs of the program to date are not known, it is estimated that the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission has expended a minimum
of one half million dollars.
Denver Water Department Water Conservation Program
The Denver Water Department supplies water service to approximately one million customers, both within the political boundaries of the City and County of Denver and in portions of the surrounding metropolitan area. The Denver Water Department (DWD) first initiated its water conservation program in 1973 when water supplies were being depleted because of high usage, low amounts of precipitation, and rapid growth. The Water Department's first effort at public education included the development of a "Tips to Save Water" brochure, a public school presentation on water conservation, the development of an animated color film on conservation, spot announcements on radio and television, a bill insert water newsletter publication, and a display of retrofit devices. DWD also implemented mandatory lawn water restrictions from June 1 to October 1 as part of its conservation program.
One of the conditions of the Water Department's agreement with the EPA over the Foothills Water Treatment Facility is that Denver implement an expanded conservation program with the specific guidelines to be satisfied of reducing water consumption from 209 gallons per capita per day to 203 gallons per capita per day by January 1, 1982, and to 199 gallons per capita per day by the first
of the year in 1984. As a result of this agreement, a comprehensive water conservation program has been developed which will be implemented in phases.
The DWD anticipates a total investment of almost one million dollars on its water conservation efforts from 1979 to 1982.
The Denver program has primarily been established based on nine elements which will constitute its fully developed program.4 A brief description follows:
1) Education and Public Information Program to teach customers the best ways to reduce water use and motivate them to conserve water while continuing their basic lifestyles. To include:
- Paid commercial announcements.
- Advertising on RTD buses.
- Intensive distribution of printed materials on water conservation measures through water bills.
- Education seminar for building owners, managers.
- Identify low water demand nursery stock.
- Demonstration show home.
- Water conservation package to be distributed to new homeowners at closing.
- Encourage retrofitting of multi-family units.
2) Retrofit Program with the goal of reaching a seventy five to eighty percent level of retrofit devices in all existing dwelling units in two years. The DWD will investigate the possibility of mass purchase and distribution of device kits.
3) Code Regulations and Processing directed at building codes, land develop-
ment and commercial operations. Legislative changes in building codes will be required for the implementation of this program. To include:
- Retrofit devices in all public facilities.
- Permits for planting of new lawns.
- Leak detection and retrofit of all multi-family, commercial and industrial structures.
- Automatic irrigation systems installed so as to prevent water waste from excessive runoff.
- Installation of all devices in conformance with application codes; no cross-connections with the potable water supply.
4) Leak Detection program to reduce water waste through leaks in utility's
system or in individual customer's plumbing. This will entail full-
time leak detection crew which will cover the entire distribution system. 5} Pressure Equalization Program Analysis which will strive to maintain equal levels of pressure (40 pounds per square inch) throughout Denver's entire system. The purpose of this would be to investigate the merits of equalizing water pressures in certain geographic areas to reduce overall consumptive use.
6) Universal Metering with the objective of metering one hundred percent
of Denver's customers by 1990. A 1948 Denver Water Board ruling required that all water sold outside the City be metered so the majority of unmetered customers remain within City limits.
7) Filter Plant Water Measurement includes a study to determine the worth of installing a more accurate measurement system at filter plants which
it is assumed will reduce significantly total per capita usage figures.
A five percent metering inaccuracy has been recognized at filter plants
and the Water Department will conduct studies to determine the benefit of eliminating the error margin.
8) Successive Use Program which will increase water supply and conserve raw water through reuse of transbasin return flow. This will diminish the amount of water Denver must acquire in the future. The program, discussed briefly in Chapter VII, will ultimately consist of construction of a one hundred million gallon per day water reuse plant which will process secondary sewage effluent into potable water. The operation
of this facility will be preceded by the design and construction of a one million gallon per day demonstration plant and pilot program to run for five years. Construction on the one million gallon per day plant is expected to begin in 1980 with 1982 as its scheduled completion date. The DWD expects its full-scale recycling plant to be in operation around the year 2000.
9) Conservation through Rate Modification will examine rate structures to be implemented after universal metering. Among the reasons for changing rates will be the loss of revenues because of conservation.
The City of Westminster's Conservation Program
The City of Westminster has experienced increases in population in excess of 150% since 1970. By the mid-seventies, it became apparent that the City's resources were limited and could not absorb the demands of uncontrolled growth. The City's shortage of raw water supplies was of particular concern combined with Westminster's rapidly growing debt. As a result, the Westminster Growth and Resource Management Plan was developed which allows the City to base development decisions on many factors; one of the key ones being the management of
water. The plan consists of five components; one of the components is the institution of a comprehensive water reduction program; another is the successive water use plan discussed briefly in Chapter VII.
The elements of Westminster's conservation program include:
1) The availability of inexpensive water saving devices to all utility customers through the Water Department.
2) The adoption of an inverted rate structure; there are no minimum bills and no flat rate charges.
3) A seasonal rate structure with higher rates charged during the irrigation months.
4) Strong incentives are provided to developers for the inclusion of water saving devices in new construction. This consists of toilets with
3.5 gallons per flush, low flow showerheads, sink aerators, thermal insulation on hot water pipes, and shower cutoff valves.
5) Water savings devices and low flow requirements are mandatory in all new construction, initiated in 1978.
6) Incentives are provided to developers for the use of "dryscape" landscaping (lava rock, driftwood, etc.) and the use of water conserving shrubbery, grass, trees.
7) Retrofit incentives are provided to owners of older structures which do not have existing water conservation fixtures.
8) Issuance of building permits based on availability of water. Water taps are allocated depending on the amount of acre feet to be put into service during a given year.
The Westminster demand reduction plan has succeeded in lowering annual per capita consumption by 11,000 gallons per year, a seven and one-half percent reduction. Within this seven and one-half percent, the inverted seasonal rate structure has accounted for a reduction of eight and eight-tenths percent from the expected growth rate and water-savings devices have contributed an additional seven and one-half percent savings. Westminster's program is considered to be one of the most innovative in the area.
Other municipal utilities or service agencies have instituted water conservation programs as well; however, those described in this chapter and Chapter II appear to be among the most comprehensive and innovative in the United States.
^Bingham, page 665.
Bingham, Ibid., page 668.
3Flack et al., page 129.
^Denver Water Department.
National Association of Counties Research, page 325.
National Association of Counties Research, Ibid., page 329.
"Waste" has always been a predominant part of the American culture. Because we believe that our resources are infinite, we drive our automobiles a distance of one block rather than walk, leave our water faucets dripping while we are gone for the day or sleeping, and allow our lawn sprinklers to run overnight. The shortages of both oil and water during the decade of the seventies have demonstrated that it is time for Americans to significantly curtail their wasteful habits. For one of the first times in our nation's history, we have begun to see the "bottom of the well" and the concept of saving or stretching our diminishing resources has become a leading preoccupation of government at all levels.
Chapters II through VIII of this paper on Municipal Water Conservation has described several approaches that a water service utility may pursue in encouraging its consumers to reduce their water usage. This paper has by no means discussed every possible measure to be taken but has selected those alternatives which appear feasible and easily implemented. This final chapter will offer conclusions and personal opinion related to the development of water conservation programs by municipal water agencies.
The public education and information portion of any conservation program will be the effort that draws attention to water users' consumption patterns. There is an expression that says "old habits die hard" and that thought may be among the fundamental principles for the entire program.
People have been wasteful for so many years that it now occurs unconsciously; water has always been permitted to run while toothbrushing or one becomes so accustomed to the sound of a leaky faucet they fail to remember that it is even dripping. These types of events are part of one's lifestyle and to get one to make changes in their behavior could require a substantial undertaking.
In addition, Americans believe that they are such a small part of the whole ("small fish in big pond") that their individual effort will contribute nothing. Because of this, it is important that a major portion of a public education program be directed at the "per capita" unit of water usage. This means that the individual is important; that he must be shown that his single endeavoring to save water or use it wisely will have an effect. A relatively simple way of accomplishing this is to show him how much water he can save in a month, a year, five years, or even ten years. The main idea is that every water customer be made to feel that he is making a valuable contribution and that he is not just an insignificant part of the whole.
Most experts on the subject of water conservation believe that domestic or inside uses of water will not respond to a savings program. Although this may be valid to a point, it is still expedient to try to eliminate unnecessary waste. This part of the program would be worthwhile during the winter or nonirrigation months because the public information program must be maintained on a year round basis.
Water usage for lawn and garden may constitute from three percent to as much as seventy percent of domestic water usage, depending primarily on climactic conditions and the region in of the country.* In an area such as Denver, where irrigation is in excess of fifty percent of total water use, a public education
program must be focused on unnecessary lawn sprinkling. Denver, of course, has imposed mandatory restrictions on watering for the past three summers but even that required extensive public relations and resulted in the Water Department being besieged with irrate customers. It should be an objective of the public education program to make consumers understand that a green lawn does not require that six inches of water be applied to it in daily doses. A particularly effective form of communicating this would be the opinion of a county agent routinely published in the daily newspaper or publicized on the evening news as a part of the weather forecast. The county agent (or a local horticulture expert) would be able to tell homeowners if irrigation is necessary on the proceeding day, how much is required (measured in a coffee can), and of what type (lawns, trees, etc.). This could be a public service announcement sponsored by the utility in the hope that consumers do listen to those considered to be authorities on the subject. As is the case of in-house usage, each individual must be made to feel that he is important and his reduction in watering will be a contribution.
Public education is the "chain" that will link all of the components of a water conservation program together. It will serve to explain and inform of the justifications for the other parts of the program; for example, meter installation or the adoption of an alternative pricing method. A utility that is planning to pursue an extremely innovative approach, such as recycling, will depend on public information for the acceptance of the technology.
A final, but very important, aspect of public education is that it must be continual or ongoing, and it must show results. Although the program will hopefully be the most effective during the summer, it cannot be disregarded
and shelved during the winter. Customers must be encouraged constantly to save water. On the same note, a "finished product" must be demonstrated, i.e., some method of evaluating the reduction in usage and presenting it to the public, in order to share their accomplishment with them, is required.
There is one disadvantage to the public education program, as stated previously. It, by itself, cannot be quantified in terms of water savings. The program must be considered more of a catalyst which, when used, will affect water savings.
The public information programs described in Chapters II and VIII illustrate that substantial amounts of budget monies can be allocated to this effort. Obviously, the dollars expended for a water conservation program will be proportionate to the size of the water service area and the severity of its problems. Water conservation, in my opinion, does not have to be expensive to be effective and can be the result of creative thinking on the part of utility administrators.
The installation of water meters is an absolutely essential component of a water conservation program. Water metering advocates more efficient use of water. Flat-rate pricing, usually associated with non-metered areas, is conducive to waste and promotes unnecessary usage by consumers determined to get their "money's worth." The psychological effect on water usage by the mere fact that it is being monitored may be sufficient to discourage wastage and, in some cases, eliminate a need for a pricing structure.
Meters may also be influential in reducing peak demands in treatment facilities thereby deferring expansions of the facility. Although the initial installation cost of providing meters may be an expense, the overall
savings in water supply, treatment costs, and facility expansion may justify it on a long-term basis. Meters do take several years to compensate for their high installation cost.
The public, in general, does not seem to like metering because it is associated with higher water costs. This is not necessarily valid because flat-rates are usually set based on a population of four per dwelling unit.
In today's society of smaller families or single homeowners, there is a distinct possibility that metering will result in smaller water bills.
Because of the general public dislike of to meters, politicians sometimes try to avoid their installation which I believe is irresponsible government. In some cases, metering has been identified as saving in excess of one hundred gallons per capita per day. This possibility alone should mandate metering. An integral part of a comprehensive public education program would be to reverse public opinion on the issue of water metering by demonstrating that it will result in the application of equitable costs to water service.
Pricing policies are generally associated with metering; meters are a prerequisite to any type of pricing schemes. Pricing is the key to customer adoption of any type of conservation method and, in my opinion, the most effective means of encouraging conservation. One incentive/disincentive that people universally understand is money. As has been the case with gasoline, the consumer will react to increasing prices; although it has been demonstrated that prices must reach a certain level before they will have an impact on usage. Water is still a relatively "cheap" commodity; therefore,
elevations in price have not been severe enough to limit water usage.
One important element in rate setting is for the water agency to determine its planning goals or required reduction in water usage before rates are developed, and then aim for that goal. There are many considerations in water rate structures: the agency must generate sufficient revenues to recover its operation and maintenance costs, provide an acceptable return on investment, and must maintain an equity between classes of customers, i.e., residential users must not pay for costs of providing water to industry. Once these costs have been divided and covered, rates should be set that will reward or provide an incentive to customers for saving water rather than punish them.
The increasing block rate has been identified as an effective means of conserving water; customers who use less water, pay less. This seems equitable because consumers are making a conscious decision. They are aware that they will incur the costs of an extra hour of lawn watering. The idea of summer surcharges or seasonal rates is also valid since it appears that the success of a conservation effort is in the quantity of irrigation water which may be saved. The increasing block and seasonal rate structures are an effective combination in devising a structure. Prices would vary between the winter and summer months but would also be increasing as consumption increases. In addition, water is less expensive during the summer so reasonable lawn watering is not prohibitive. Rates should not be set so that lifestyles must be dramatically altered; however, excessive watering and water uses should be penalized. A rapidly escalating inverted structure for summer months may be the solution to this problem. However, rates cannot be structured so they will represent a hardship to water customers.
Reductions in water usage presents a problem to the utility in terms of expected revenues. Since the water agency will be selling less water, it will be receiving less income. Although it follows that its revenue needs will be decreasing proportionately, this may not necessarily be the case. Inflation and the fact that the requirement for new water resources will not be eliminated indicates that conservation may not be economically beneficial to the utility. A possible resolution to this difficulty may be increasing tap fees for new water connections since the acquisition will be for the purpose of serving new customers. Water conservation should not be a-voided because the utility may suffer revenue losses and decrease its profitability.
Water Conserving Devices
Retrofit devices are the primary mechanism for reducing in-house water consumption. They are effective (to a degree), are inexpensive, and are socially and politically acceptable. Public education plays an important role in the encouragement of voluntary retrofit installation, although their installation may be mandatory through changes in ordinance. Retrofit devices should be required in all existing structures. The problem would be in enforcing the regulation. The Town of Breckenridge's approach of individual home inspection would be impractical in a large metropolitan area but might be one solution. In metered areas, water usage may reflect this but it would place an administrative burden on the utility to examine the records to check for variations. The devices should be available at no cost whenever possible or at a minimal charge, if absolute necessary. The water agency should attempt door-to-door distribution of the devices with a strong public participation and information program to urge their installation.
In reality, the financial costs in terms of water saved to the home-owner are low per billing period since water costs are still low. However, in the long run over a period of several years, financial savings will be realized. The success of retrofitting will depend on appealing to the consumer's social conscience by emphasizing that he is helping to preserve a natural resource.
As stated previously, water savings may cause escalated water prices which in turn may create a greater incentive for the installation of retrofit devices. Hopefully, rising water prices will not be the sole motivation for the addition of these water saving implements into existing structures.
They should be installed because they make more efficient use of water than conventional devices; a single fact which should justify their use.
It might be favorable for a water agency to undertake a retrofit device distribution program at the same time that it institutes a new pricing system. This would give the appearance that the utility is attempting to assist the consumer in saving money and may represent a positive public relations-type activi ty.
Ordinances and Codes for Mew Construction; Changes in Horticulture
New construction should be a target area for water conservation technology. All of the retrofit devices described in Chapter V should be the "conventional" fixtures in new buildings and current standard fixtures should be discarded as obsolete. Shallow trap toilets or air pressure toilets should replace bricks, plastic bottles, toilet dams, etc. while flow restricting showerheads and faucets should be installed in construction. One of the advantages to this approach is that customers are not given the option to install the devices; they are apart
of their new home. Additionally, there is no specific cash outlay for the devices, the cost is borne in the purchase price of the house. Low flow plumbing fixtures also do not require a change in every day habits. Toilet flushing is not decreased nor is shower length shortened; only the amount of water utilized is unknowingly diminished. This is a particularly effective conservation method in still developing areas of the country, such as Colorado and other southwestern states.
The amendment of an ordinance or a change in a building code is a function of government, generally at different levels. Although in some cases, government may not be enthusiastic about assuming responsibility for this, it still remains among their duties. Government should not be allowed to place the burden of decisions on the water utility when, in fact, it is in a position to legislatively mandate conservation.
Horticulture changes have the potential to induce the greatest amount of water savings. Landscape changes will also undoubtedly be the most difficult alternative to implement (a big, green lawn is part of the American dream).
It is my opinion that consumers are willing to pay a very high price for water rather than sacrifice a large-as-possible green lawn. Aesthetics is a very important consideration in a discussion of lawns; homeowners are conditioned to desire verdant expanses of grass and need to be convinced that a desertlike landscape is equally attractive, so this may become a matter of promoting a particular style. For every square foot of lawn area that is eliminated, water requirements are reduced; a fact which needs to be emphasized. The demonstration home that the Denver Water Department and other water agencies have considered, which shows that attractive landscaping does not necessarily mean
grass in abundance, may be an effective means of fostering this style.
The concept of horticulture changes seems that it will be more practical when applied to new construction. New homeowners seem less likely to remove existing lawn area (in an existing home) than select a "dryscape" style in a newly constructed home. Additionally, the trend to condominium and attached dwelling units with little individual lawn area may also contribute to savings in water. Builders of these developments also have the financial resources to install automatic irrigation systems which do not waste.
Water Reuse and Recycling
This is an area of future conservation that is difficult to evaluate because the technology is still relatively new. If it can guarantee that there is no possibility of contamination or that recycled water poses no threat whatsoever to health; then recycled domestic water will be instrumental to the future. Currently, the price of the recycling system, both the system-wide and the in-house varieties, makes it prohibitive but with rising costs of water supply and treatment, perhaps this will become a more cost-effective approach. It is my belief that recycling may be a part of the distant future and, for some areas of the country, may be their only alternative for new sources of water supply.
Chapter VIII discussed two possible methods of recycling domestic water: in-house and total system. In-house recycling utilizes grey water from other household activities for toilet flushing. Because of the possibility of ingesting low-quality water, grey water is not recommended for landscape irrigation. Since more than one hundred gallons of water per day is used strictly for toilet water disposal, it would appear that this may one day be a viable enough reason. It seems that the dual water supply system is more feasible
than an in-house system. Lower quality water is supplied for nonpotable uses but the water would be treated to an acceptable standard and might perhaps encompass more than toilet flushing. This would be particularly effective in an area where demands for lawn irrigation are high. The system also has the potential for utilizing commercial and industrial flows that are not polluted with heavily contaminated wastes.
The recycling of water to produce potable water carries this even further. Since the water will meet the highest standards of water, all water from the reclamation plant can be distributed throughout the system. The dual water supply system will entail a more complicated distribution system which must assure that no cross connections will occur. A malfunction of this type could create public pressure to abandon the system. The potable water producing system will not have this problem but will be faced with maintaining water quality on a one hundred percent basis.
Intensive public education is associated with any type of recycling.
Since it appears that it will be so important to the future, an accelerated effort in this direction should be undertaken. Social accepance will come slowly but when it occurs, I believe the response will be enthusiastic.
In closing, some general comments on water conservation are appropriate: The Federal government has taken steps to encourage conservation but the government cannot assume the role of an overseer. Water conservation must start at the state level by inclusion in its water planning and policy development. Conservation must then be filtered through all levels of government until it reaches the local level where a more door-to-door type effort is feasible. Water shortages are not going to disappear nor is it likely that
a substitute for it will be invented, facts which must be emphasized at the local level. Public education must be included in a utility's budget regardless of the size of the service area or how limited the operating budget. Although government must be involved, the local agency will still maintain responsibility for carrying out the established policies.
An enforcement mechanism must be developed although "big brother" type tactics must be avoided. House-to-house inspections seem a bit dramatic and impractical and evaluating of individual consumer's water records is impossible. Perhaps, conscience raising is the best solution.
In summary, water conservation (for that matter, conservation of all of our natural resources) is rapidly becoming a way of life. A continuing debate will occur on the best and most effective means of conserving our precious resources. As this paper demonstrates, there are a multitude of conservation measures available; some more appropriate and efficient than others in varying circumstances. What is important, however, is the end result -- that both our remaining water supplies and our yet to be developed sources be put to the most beneficial use to serve the greatest amount of people.
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