The Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA) believes that federal, state and local water supply policies should encourage the conservation of the nation’s water resources. Individual water utilities should develop and implement their own system-specific conservation programs – which could include participation in programs such as the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA's) WaterSense – and take appropriate steps to ensure that there are adequate water supplies, even during periods of drought, to meet local needs. Water conservation should be accomplished through activities that result in the efficient use and management of water such as:
- Metering of all water supplied as a basic conservation incentive and to measure the effectiveness of all operations including conservation activities;
- Supporting adoption of national plumbing products efficiency standards;
- Initiating regular water system audits to identify and correct leaks, unauthorized connections, or wasteful uses; and
- Educating and encouraging customers to use water wisely.
There are significant regional differences in water resources, usage requirements, system capacities and demographics. The following measures should be considered locally and, if appropriate, implemented in a manner tailored to regional conditions:
- Incorporation of conservation measures in all planning to meet future water needs;
- Careful consideration of conservation price signals in water rate design (such as the elimination of declining block rates and uniform monthly water rates without a usage component, and the promotion of seasonal rates, surcharges, increasing block rates and other rate structures that encourage wise water use options when appropriate for local circumstances –particularly during periods of water shortages, drought, rising demand, or rising water system costs);
- Efficiency improvements in industrial and agricultural uses of water; and
- Development and employment of reuse projects that meet appropriate public health standards and are cost effective.
State implementation of EPA’s water conservation guidance should follow these general principles. Additionally, Congress should continue to fund EPA’s WaterSense program to ensure continued public awareness of water-efficient products.
- Water is a precious natural resource that should not be wasted. Even relatively minor shortages can disrupt normal living patterns and may undermine a variety of economic activities.
- Conservation is a key part of water resource management. Conservation practices must assure that present and future municipal, industrial, agricultural, hydroelectric and in-stream needs can be met in an economically and environmentally sound manner.
- Local, regional, legal, climatic, source, economic and environmental differences must be taken into account as conservation policies are developed at the national, state and local levels. The appropriate mix of conservation measures must be selected based on these differences.