Conservation Information

Conservation Resources

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CWWA Water Efficiency Committee – Publications

Water Conservation Strategies – Opportunities for Governments, Business and Individuals

There are many opportunities for governments, businesses, and individuals to contribute to development and successful implementation of water conservation programs



Domestic Users

Are there Water Conservation Plan Guidelines Already Available?

Suggested Reading

Governments (Federal/Provincial/Municipal)

Policy Development
  • Adoption of sustainable building practices (specifications for new buildings/retrofitting old buildings).
  • Subdivision development control (i.e. specifications for material and construction practices for developers and contractors).
Command and Control Systems
  • Minimum standards for water conservation (standards for water-conserving devices and/or standards for overall water consumption per facility/industry/time period)
  • Reduce/eliminate regulations/policies at odds with water conservation.
  • Regulations/bylaws to eliminate water waste.
  • Water use restrictions/water feature requirements.
  • "Water Management Plans" for large users of water.
Incentive/Disincentive Programs
  • Awards/recognition programs for individuals/businesses that show commitment and continual improvement on water conservation initiatives.
  • Rebates/vouchers/tax breaks for use of water conserving technologies/processes.
  • Pricing structures (i.e. marginal-cost pricing strategies, increasing consumptive pricing and/or seasonal pricing).
  • Awareness programs on water/water conservation for individuals/schools/businesses.
  • Demonstration sites and information centres.
  • Social marketing campaigns (i.e. public broadcasting announcements, brochures, handouts, bill inserts, newspaper articles, radio/television ads, etc.).
  • School curriculum programs and materials.
  • Technical reports, case studies, "How To" manuals, etc.
Research and Development
  • Product "testing" (ensuring products perform, not simply meeting safety (CSA) standards).
  • Research and development into new water efficient technologies/processes.
  • Research and development into new water sources (rainharvesting, biomimetics).
  • Research and development into new drought tolerant crops/ornamental plants.
  • Leadership/Partnership
  • Assisting in capital cost projects (i.e. improving/renewing existing infrastructure in irrigation systems, municipalities, for leak detection programs, etc.).
  • "Fee-bate" systems (i.e. water savings from retrofit projects may become allowable water use in new developments).
  • Government procurement policies (ensuring government departments utilize best available technology for water conservation).
  • Product labelling standards (EcoLogo, Energuide, PowerSmart, etc.).
  • Start-up and venture capital financing.
Competitive Advantage
  • Preferred supplier of goods/services if recognized certification is achieved ( i.e. ISO14001 or EcoLogo/EnergyStar certification).
"Green" Procurement
  • Public recognition of leadership role in industry in water conservation – purchasing of goods/supplies from suppliers that are ISO 14001 or EcoLogo/EnergyStar certified.
  • Industry Standards Development
  • Landscape requirements, xeriscaping, irrigation water scheduling, construction/installation of water mains, meters, etc.
  • With governments to take advantage of research and development resources (expertise, specialized equipment, etc.) for improvements in technology.
  • Start-up and venture capital financing.
Reduce Regulatory Requirements
  • Reporting of effluent discharges, use of water treatment chemicals, etc.
  • Reduce Costs
  • Reduce cost associated with purchase of raw water (Water recycling – water reuse) and associated disposal (sewage) charges.
  • Reduce cost associated with purchasing chemicals for water purification/disinfection.
  • Reduce insurance costs (pollution costs for unauthorized releases) and worker health and safety (cleaning and maintenance of equipment).
Research and Development
  • Product "testing" (ensuring products perform, not simply meeting safety (CSA) standards).
  • Research and development into new water efficient technologies/processes.
  • Research and development into new water sources (rainharvesting, biomimetics).
  • Research and development into new drought tolerant crops/ornamental plants.
Reduce Costs
  • Eliminate water waste (inefficient and unnecessary watering of lawns, gardens, washing of cars, driveways, sidewalks, etc.) and associated cost of sewage charges on water that does not enter the wastewater treatment system.
  • Reduce costs associated with purchasing water (including reduction of heating costs), and associated disposal (sewage) charges.
  • Utilize technology to otherwise capture "waste water" (automatic shut-off valves on garden hoses, or "run-off" water (using rain barrels and cisterns for rain harvesting from rooftops).
  • Utilize water efficient appliances/devices (low-water washing machines, low-flow toilets, low-flow dishwashers, low-flow shower heads, faucet aerators, etc.).
  • Water recycling – using gray water for other purposes (i.e. watering plants, toilet flushing) as opposed to disposal.
United States Environmental Protection Agency Conservation Plan Guidelines
  • The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) in their "Water Conservation Plan Guidelines" document have organized conservation measures into 3 levels; level I, II and III. Level I measures are Basic Guidelines intended for small utilities/communities (serving fewer than 3,300 people) and are widely – even universally accepted by water industry professionals and regulators as prudent water utility management (not simply in terms of conservation). Level I measures include:
  • Universal Metering
  • Water Accounting and Loss Control
  • Costing and Pricing
  • Information and Education

Level II are Intermediate Guidelines(serving 3,300 – 10,000 people) and would include Level I guidelines plus the following:

  • Water Audits
  • Retrofits
  • Pressure Management
  • Landscape Efficiency
Level III are Advanced Guidelines(serving >10,000 people) and include Level I and II guidelines plus the following:
  • Replacements and Promotions
  • Reuse and Recycling
  • Water-Use Regulation
  • Integrated Resource Management
Each of these levels is considered a minimum, and is not meant to preclude consideration of any measure in any of the three levels by any type of water system. This series of measures provides a logical step-wise framework for planning and management.
In the longer term, development of policy, promotion of guidelines and/or adoption of regulation also consistent with USEPA Level I Basic Guidelines would ensure that all people are at a minimum standard with respect to water efficiency. This standard emphasises the fact that "water has value" (many North American and European jurisdictions have initiated mandatory metering and fees for water) and provides for accurate accountability of all water uses (water accounting and loss control). There is a need to be aware of all of the costs associated with water (including pollution prevention, watershed management, water sourcing, treatment, delivery, wastewater treatment and associated infrastructure), and that water conservation is an effective way of minimizing cost while providing maximum benefit for the environment.
Suggested Reading
Vickers, Amy. Handbook of Water Use and Conservation: Homes Landscapes Businesses Industries Farms. WaterPlow Press. 2001. 446 pg.