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As the cost of water rises, an increasing number of California’s local water agencies and districts are discovering that water conservation not only saves resources, but improves water quality as well. According to a survey conducted by EIP Associates, a water resources firm, approximately 58% of the California water agencies and districts surveyed said they use water conservation incentives to address water quality concerns.
Furthermore, 59% of the agencies and districts that have public outreach water conservation programs said these programs link landscape irrigation usage and urban water runoff.
“This tells us that agencies are starting to realize that water quality can be improved by conserving water, particularly water used for landscaping and irrigation,” said John Moynier, senior water resources manager for EIP Associates. “Everyone knows it’s wasteful to over-water a lawn—you can literally see the water going down the drain. But more people are realizing that such urban water runoff can adversely affect water quality as well because it may contain fertilizers, pesticides or other contaminants that can get into the water supply.”
EIP Associates surveyed more than 70 water resources professionals throughout California on the subject of water conservation. Key findings from the survey include:
“Not everyone sees the relationship between reducing urban water runoff and improving water quality through the reduction of non-point source pollution,” Moynier said. “This creates an opportunity for water providers to combine their efforts to reduce wastage and improve water quality, even to the point of significant cost savings and increased water supplies.”
Although it may not be standard practice yet, survey results indicate that water conservation will be used to reduce non-point source pollution from urban water runoff more often in the future. Approximately 20% of the respondents who said water conservation is not currently part of their programs to reduce non-point source pollution from urban water runoff indicated that it would be in the future.
Water conservation is an important issue in California, and agencies and districts can take it to new levels by using conservation to improve water quality. By addressing the link between water conservation and water quality, agencies protect the integrity of their water resources and free up water to be used elsewhere.