How much water can a family save in a year with EPA WaterSense Homes?
A) 15,000 gallons B) 30,000 gallons C) 50,000 gallons
Answer: C) 50,000 gallons.
The 2017-2018 water year was the warmest and second driest in Colorado in the 124 years of records, making it a good time to think about conservation for the upcoming season and beyond. Colorado has the second-fastest growing population in the country. As our number of residents increases, so does our demand for housing and for water. In this article, we explore some ways new and existing communities can improve their water efficiencies and reduce water demand.
Offering residents conservation options gives them control over the energy and water they use and can help them reduce utility bills. Requiring or encouraging developers to implement certain water conservation practices may further increase efficiencies or reduce the needs for treated potable water. Developers, counties, and municipalities may even want to incorporate some conservation components into their HOAs, development reviews, or codes. Here are some strategies for developers and homeowners to impact water conservation in their communities.
Dual Water Distribution
Dual water distribution systems provide separate potable and non-potable water supplies to the same area. This allows for lower treatment costs compared to treating all water used, better management and measurement of non-potable uses, and more efficient use of raw water supplies.
Colorado House Bill 13-1044, passed and signed during the 2013 legislative session, provides municipalities and counties the discretion to authorize graywater use (i.e., reuse of water already used for one purpose) along with the authorization of graywater use by some well owners. Using graywater to flush toilets and irrigate landscapes can reduce the amount of water needed for supply to homes and buildings. Developers can incorporate dual valve graywater systems when installing plumbing to aid in graywater
Incorporating plumbing efficiency standards can reduce a community’s water use. Building homes with dual flush toilets that allow the user to decide how “big” of a flush is needed and weather sensing and soil moisture sensing irrigation equipment create water efficiencies.
Building community spaces, lawns, and gardens that incorporate more indigenous plants that includes more efficient irrigation use can help ease the water demands of a community. Colorado’s semi-arid climate can make it difficult to sustain water-dependent landscaping like some turf grasses, but there are many native plants that can thrive in our drier conditions while creating a pleasing aesthetic. For more resources on incorporating indigenous plants and xeriscaping, visit Denver Water and Colorado University Extension.
Some builders are offering EPA labeled WaterSense residential and multi-family homes that use less water allowing a family of four to save up to 50,000 gallons of water a year. WaterSense homes must meet EPA’s efficiency criteria and must be certified and inspected.
Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) Grants
The CWCB manages grant funding under Colorado’s Water Plan that includes, among other things, grant opportunities for water conservation planning, water conservation implementation, and water conservation public outreach and education. To learn more about CWCB grant program visit the CWCB website: http://cwcb.state.co.us/LoansGrants/Colorados-Water-Plan-Grants/Pages/main.aspx
Water Management Systems
Internet of Things (IoT) consumer smart home devices are entering the market daily. Systems similar to Nest, that allow consumers to monitor and control their home’s temperature from their smart phone, are coming to the market for water use. Phyn Plus is one such water assistant that customers can use to keep tabs on their water use, monitor their whole house for leaks and shut off their water from their phone. Incorporating a water management system by residents could improve water efficiency and help save residents money.
Residents should routinely check water bills as higher than normal usage can indicate leaks in pipes, toilets, faucets, and irrigation systems.
Replace water fixtures
Replacing water fixtures (including indoor and irrigation fixtures) with more efficient models will not only conserve water but will also save money in water bills. Also, many cities and municipal water providers offer rebates for purchasing and installing more efficient fixtures. You don’t need EPA certification to follow WaterSense practices and purchase WaterSense products to reduce water use.
Rain Barrel Collection
Residents can own up to 2 rain barrels and collect up to 110 gallons for outdoor use. In addition to reducing runoff pollution and conserving potable, treated water use, collecting rainwater before it hits the ground can help homeowners control moisture levels around the foundations of their homes. Additionally, relying on rainwater for lawn and garden watering can reduce water bills.
Interested in developing a conservation plan or applying for a CWCB grant? Contact Martin and Wood for assistance with your next project.