Climate change and droughts are causing many cities across the United States to take a unique approach to water conservation. Some communities are launching ad campaigns, offering landscape rebates, creating drought patrols, recycling sewage water, penalizing those individuals who waste water, and even giving away free toilets in an effort to significantly reduce water usage.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Some residents of Nevada are getting paid for their landscaping choices. It’s known as the Water Smart Landscapes Rebate and is offered through the Southern Nevada Water Authority. This rebate offers customers “$1.50 per square foot of grass removed and replaced with desert landscaping.” Although upgrading your landscape can be a big undertaking, there are a variety of resources available for those interested in converting their lawn to a more water-efficient option.
In Denver, Colo., they created the Drought Patrol to help curb excess water usage. Whenever the utility company is notified of individuals violating the city’s drought restriction they send out employees to help educate the violators about the importance of adhering to water restrictions. They also give these individuals water-efficient hose nozzles. Those who continue to abuse their water usage after their initial warning receive additional fines on their water bills. Ouch.
A witty “Use Even Less” ad campaign was created by the Denver Water Utility to help raise awareness of conserving water. Check out the advertisements here. They’re cute, but informative at the same time. Who knew water could be such a source of amusement?
San Antonio, Texas
Some heavy water users in San Antonio, Texas, are penalized for their extravagant use of water. Individuals guilty of using more water than average are charged significantly more per gallon of water they use compared to those who use less water. The idea of charging customers based on the amount of water they use is somewhat similar to the concept of a Trash Metering System. Customers are much more conscious about the amount of water they use and are forced to think about their water consumption. It gives new meaning to the old adage, “A penny saved is a penny earned.”
The San Antonio Water System is also giving away free water-efficient toilets to residences with toilets older than 1993. Eligible homes can quality for up to 2 free toilets. For more information check out Kick the Can – Free Toilet Distribution Program. This giveaway ends Dec. 31, 2013.
If you live in San Antonio and qualify, then why wait?
Orange County, California
Sewage water in Orange County, Calif., is recycled to the extreme. Human wastewater from the residents of Orange County undergoes a thorough treatment process. Just how thorough you wonder? Believe it or not, but the recycled water may indeed be cleaner than the water you get from your tap. Crazy, huh?
Officially known as Orange County Water District’s Groundwater Replenishment System, some people refer to it as the “toilet to tap” system (sounds mighty appealing, eh?). Their filtration process involves “a three-step process of microfiltration, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet light with hydrogen peroxide.” Although the idea of reusing wastewater may seem somewhat iffy, the purified water exceeds all state and federal drinking water standards.
Most importantly, this groundwater replenishment system serves as a blueprint for water agencies throughout the world to help solve their local water supply issues.
Now, It’s Your Turn
If you’re interested in conserving water, but aren’t sure where to begin you might consider joining the 40 Gallon Challenge. This challenge encourages people across the U.S. to save a minimum of 40 gallons a day by adopting new water-saving techniques. We all need to make a difference when it comes to our water usage and the time is now.