Community prosperity and well-being are directly dependent upon a sufficient
supply of clean water. In addition to basic human health and sanitation, a clean and
adequate water supply provides crucial benefits such as irrigation for agriculture,
habitat for myriad plants and animals, aesthetics, recreational opportunities, and a
symbol of vitality.
Although the world is covered by 70 percent
water, only 2.5 percent of this water is freshwater. According
to a report by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable
Development, a mere .007 percent of the Earths total freshwater
resources is accessible for human use. The report also stated
that world water use has grown at more than twice the rate of
the population increase during the past century.
Management of freshwater resources to accommodate
growing communities has traditionally focused on supply-side
projects such as dams and reservoirs. But often these large-scale
projects have generated negative impacts such as water diversion
from fish and wildlife habitats and have fostered dependence
on wasteful management practices. Additionally, the costs of
obtaining and treating new sources of water have steadily risen,
making demand-side options economically attractive.
Just as rising fuel prices during the energy
crisis of the 70s led to the development of more energy
efficient appliances and vehicles, recent improvements in water-conserving
technologies for toilets, showerheads, irrigation equipment,
and faucets have enabled the maintenance of quality lifestyles
while consuming less water. (Water
Efficiency: A Resource for Utility Managers, Community Planners,
and Other Decisionmakers, Rocky Mountain Institute, 1994.) Water efficiency strategies aim to employ these technologies
along with innovative management practices to use less water
while delivering an unchanged or improved level of service to
There are numerous strategies or "Best Management Practices"
(BMP) for communities and local governments to utilize in striving for Water Efficiency.
Some examples include the following:
- conservation/efficiency rate structures
- reduction of supply system leaks
- waste water ordinances
- landscape water use audits
- water-efficient landscaping (xeriscaping)
- home and business audits and retrofits
- water reclamation
- public education programs
This section provides access to the primary
sources of assistance and information available to your community
for implementing Best Management Practices for water efficiency
and protection of water quality.
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