Neda Simeonova is editorial director of Water & Wastes Digest. Simeonova can be reached at [email protected] or 847.391.1011.
The use of reclaimed water for irrigation and other purposes has been employed as a water conservation practice for many years. Consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable with these practices as a way to extend water supplies.
With stats showing that a typical ½-in. rainfall would fill an approximately 50-gal rain barrel or that a 1-in. rainfall would yield a half-gallon of water per square foot of roof area, rainwater harvesting may seem like a no-brainer, but that’s not always the case. As water becomes scarcer, regulators have begun scrutinizing rainwater harvesting more closely. Some states prohibit rainwater harvesting, while others are considering requiring a permit for rainwater capture systems above a threshold amount or regulating rainwater harvesting altogether.
Why is it that some states are more in tune with water conservation practices than others? Ultimately, it comes down to water availability, customer education and water pricing.
Customer involvement and education also are essential steps to the success of any conservation program. While effective water conservation begins with water providers, it ultimately ends with consumers. They need to see more pricing and water use information included on their bills, such as how their use compares to that of the utility’s average residential user.
What is your utility doing to educate customers about water conservation? Share your success stories with [email protected].