(Third in a five part series for reducing costs and environmental impact)
As consumers have reduced their levels of water consumption water rates continue to climb. This is because as the volume of water consumed goes down, so does the amount of revenue collected by utilities. At the same time, the cost for the infrastructure used to deliver water to the end user has gone up. Faced with falling revenues and increasing capital and maintenance costs utilities have had to raise rates in order to continue to provide service.
Over the long term conservation efforts are making it possible to meet the needs of an increasing population from existing water supplies. So even as rates are going up at this time, conservation is postponing for the foreseeable future the cost of developing new water supplies.
In Washington residential customers have been able to reduce their costs through conservation thanks to new efficiency standards for appliances such as washers, showerheads and low flow toilets.
- Receive up to $1,500 to replace an inefficient food steamer and other cash incentives to upgrade to high efficiency dishwashers. When upgrading commercial kitchen equipment, you may be qualified for not only water efficiency rebates but also energy efficiency rebates from Puget Sound Energy.
- Get rebates worth up to $100 for replacing each toilet or urinal fixture with an efficient WaterSense model.
- Qualify for up to $400 for each inefficient coin-operated clothes washer replaced with a high efficiency washer
- Receive up to 50% off the installed cost of many other water conservation measures
- Receive rebates and technical assistance to upgrade existing automatic underground sprinkler systems
Both residential and business owners can reduce their water consumption significantly by incorporating rainwater catchment methods and native landscaping to reduce or eliminate the need for watering.
It is easy to take clean water for granted. All it takes is a trip to some parts of the US where gas and oil wells, mining or chemical factories have made the tap water unsafe for human consumption to remind us of how fortunate we are in the Pacific Northwest. We may complain about the increasing cost of water here, but it would be much more expensive if we had to purchase bottled water for use in cooking, drinking and hand washing.
Part of keeping the costs of water down includes keeping water clean using pollution prevention methods in landscaping and development. There are lots of instructive video's available that show what other communities have done such as the one linked to this article.
The benefits of water conservation include reduced costs to the business or resident for water and maintenance, and a more interesting landscape than is possible with just a lawn. Storm water treatment costs also go down with reduced storm water run off.
The benefits to the community include recharging of our ground water, less pollution entering Puget Sound and increased health of fish and wildlife habitat. A healthy wildlife habitat supports our recreation and tourist industry and makes Puget Sound a healthier place for people of all ages.