Pictured is a beautiful Washington County agricultural field watered by way of an open irrigation ditch. Innovative water conservation practices for farming are being implemented around the world using satellites. Computerized programs instruct the farmer with optimum times to fertilize and water crops resulting in using decreased water usage and increasing crop yield. This technology takes money to implement. Let’s invest in these types of conservation programs instead of a multibillion dollar Pipeline.

CSU’s vision is conservation first before spending billions of dollars building a pipeline to an unsustainable source, the Colorado River. We advocate for efficient water use, while maintaining the natural environment and water quality.  CSU was appointed to the Governor’s Water Advisory Team to develop a 50-year water plan. https://envisionutah.org/utah-water-strategy-project It gave CSU a way to help shape the state’s water policies and  learn what other water managers are doing on water conservation.

Inside the home you can save water, and money, in places where you use the most water – the bathroom, kitchen, and laundry room. Water-efficient devices such as dishwashers, shower heads, faucet aerators, and clothes washers can replace your older models, and will perform the same or better.  In the long run you’ll save money by using these devices because the energy and water savings are so large they’ll more than make up for the up-front costs. Your water utility may help you to identify the best water-efficient devices and offer rebates on those models. Several utilities in the West even give out efficient shower heads and faucet aerators for free. Check for rebates from your town and the water district. (see bullets bottom of this page)

Outside the home, in the yard and in other landscaped areas, drip irrigation systems and rain sensors can help prevent over watering of the landscape. And, your plants will look their best when receiving the right amount of water. The most water-efficient landscaping option is also a beautiful one – xeriscaping.  This means planting native, drought-resistant plants and colorful flowers that require very little water and thrive naturally in the arid southwestern climate – it’s definitely not rocks and concrete! Xeriscaping can also reduce the amount of time and money spent on landscape maintenance. The water district will come out and evaluate your watering system.

WATER Budget Rates

In October 2014 we held a water workshop on how to establish Water Budget Rates that can save a significant amount of water.  We invited Tom Ash an expert on Water Budgets to come and speak. Below are the materials from the workshop.
He wrote an introduction for the workshop:
One of the key points of the success of water budget rates was brought home to me again yesterday October 25th. How will voters respond to Water Budget Rates? The Irvine Ranch Water District (IRWD) implemented water budget rates in July of 1991. Every elected water board member has been re-elected (typically by landslide) for every year since 1991. When a board member retires and a new member is appointed, they win re-election (typically by landslide). Not one elected water board member has ever been “un-elected” in the IRWD.
The Moulton Niguel Water District implemented water budget rates in 2011. A new board member, Scott Colton, had just been elected to their board. He knew nothing really about water and water rates and he freely admitted that, but was elected as a concerned citizen. He spent 2.5 hours with me one day to talk about water rates. We covered the A to Z of fixed and variable costs, State legislation, how much water people and plants need, etc. He turned from not supporting the agencies move to implement water budget rates to a yes vote on the board in 2011. Today (10/25/14), he praises the water budget rate structure, saying…”it was the best thing we could have ever done for our agency and our customers.” I asked him if he was up for election? He said, “yes”. I asked what are your prospects? He said…”I am running unopposed”! (In other words, the public “gets it”). He attributes that, and the overall success of the agency with voters, to the transparent, accurate and equitable water rate structure they employ. He also said 93% of their customer accounts meet their individual water budgets. That means that 93% of their customers (70,000 accounts) have as low a water bill as possible and get the water they need for their specific situation. Those are satisfied constituents… that people, water users, “get” water budget rates and agencies will not suffer at the politically, or financially, if they implement water budget rates. In fact, just the opposite has been seen in every water agency who has moved to water budget rates.
—Tom Ash 10-25-14


Dennis L. Taylor 6:28 p.m. PDT October 23, 2014

There’s another way of restricting water use during this drought. Call it the All-American Water Budget. I chose those terms because it uses the free market system to gain efficiency. In simplest terms, there is a fixed supply of a commodity, in this case water. With a fixed supply and unabated demand, prices will rise until supply and demand are in equilibrium, that is to say, less water use.


Higher prices are essential to induce conservation and investment in water-saving technology and to steer water to where it is valued most. This summer, California’s water authority declared that wasting water — hosing a sidewalk, for example — was a crime. Next door, in Nevada, Las Vegas has paid out $200 million over the last decade for homes and businesses to pull out their lawns. It will get worse. As climate change and population growth further stress the water supply from the drought-plagued West to the seemingly bottomless Great Lakes, states and municipalities are likely to impose increasingly draconian restrictions on water use.

New York Times by Hector Becerra, July 2014When state regulators tried to tally water use across California recently, they didn’t exactly get a flood of cooperation.

Of the 440 water agencies in the state, only 276 provided water consumption data. And officials in San Diego made a point of formally refusing the request, saying the state’s method for measuring water use in California’s second-largest city was “misleading and technically inappropriate.”

Utah has the same problem.

This report is about The Effectiveness of Allocation-Based Pricing and Conservation Rebate Programs in California’s Urban Sector. California saw its driest year on record in 2013, and the drought is expected to continue into the foreseeable future. More than ever, urban water managers are seeking effective strategies to address water scarcity, with increasing interest in reducing residential water demand. University of California, School of Public Policy, fall 2014.

This is what California is doing on water conservation. CA Emergency regulation for statewide urban water conservation , issued July 2014. It spells out what they expect agencies to be doing right now to deal with the drought. On page 7 (highlighted) there is a specific exemption for agencies with water budget rates. This clause buried at the end of the regulations is now driving agencies to have to take “changing” their rate seriously. This is an example of how seriously California is now acting in response to drought, longer-term climate change, and using the power of legislation to get people to notice…which they have not despite the daily news.

The article is about the Hamilton Project recently published a helpful primer, “Nine Economic Facts about Water in the United States.” The whole thing’s worth reading, but four maps and charts in particular stuck out. For starters, some of the driest states in the West actually have some of the highest rates of household water use. By Brad Plumer, VOX, Oct 17, 2014.

The Bureau of Reclamation gives out WaterSMART Water and Energy Efficiency Grants . The awardees claim many potential benefits in their project proposals, particularly how much water AND energy is saved from conservation improvements. They argue that it will reduce the need for new water projects. SMART Water and Energy Efficiency Grants 2014 awarded in Utah.

We would encourage you to get on this email list and to explore the Alliance for Water Efficiency’s website and resource library for information on other types of conservation programs. Your organization might also consider joining the Alliance in order to receive a key benefit of membership, which is a water conservation program tracking tool along with technical assistance for its use.

Kelly Kropp who over sees Slow the Flow program in Utah mentioned as a rough estimate of the costs and savings associated with irrigation system audits, it costs approximately $100 to perform a residential irrigation system audit resulting in an annual average savings of 87,500 gallons of water. Assuming that the savings is ongoing, it takes nearly 4 years for participating households to save an acre foot of water as a result of their participation. However, if you multiply this by the number of households who actually have audits, the savings mount up fairly quickly. Value Landscape engineering Rosenberg, David, Kelly Kopp, Heidi Kratsch, Larry Rupp, Paul Johnson, and Roger Kjelgren. 2011. Value landscape engineering: Identifying costs, water use, labor, and impacts to support landscape choice. Journal of the American Water Resources Association. 47:635-649.

She also recalls, a few years ago, several USU researchers developed a web based model that allows users to put in information about existing landscapes and then make changes to the landscape. Users can then what the total life-cycle costs of each landscape are side by side. Associated changes in water use, labor, fuel, carbon emissions, energy, and dust emissions are also determined. This work was published in the Journal of the American Water Resources Association.

Kelly Kopp, Ph.D.Professor and Extension Specialist, Department of Plants, Soils & Climate, Utah State University, 4820 Old Main Hill, Logan, UT 84321; Voice: (435) 757-6650; Twitter: @kopptweets; Email: kelly.kopp@usu.edu

  • iUtah, Science For Utah’s Water Future:

Innovative Urban Transitions and Aridregion Hydro-sustainabilityiUTAH is an interdisciplinary research project dedicated to preserving Utah’s water resources. Comprised of a vast network of researchers, universities, governmental agencies, industry partners and non-profit organizations statewide, this is the first water monitoring project of this scale to be attempted in the history of the state. Funded by the National Science Foundation, this five-year, $20-million award went into effect August 2012.

Joanna Endter-Wada, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Natural Resources Policy and Social Science Environment & Society Dept. | Quinney College of Natural Resources; Utah State University | 5215 Old Main Hill, Logan, UT 84322-5215;( (435) 797-2487 | * Joanna.Endter-Wada@usu.edu

Joanna recommended sources of information:

This is an effort I lead to analyze capacity to conserve water applied to outdoor landscapes. It is premised on the documented observation that there are much water conservation savings to be had without even transitioning existing landscapes to be low water landscapes or xeriscape. It analyzes how much people are watering in relation to landscape water need. We developed the notion of “capacity to conserve” (see first attachment) in an article that won an award. In several studies we have done, the key variable in explaining water use ends up being their irrigation systems. Current water managers are focused on the wrong infrastructure of building large trans=basin pipeline – we can do a lot “at the end of the pipe.”

This is an effort that brings together sciences related to plants, irrigation, and people to promote water-efficient landscaping. Just last month, CWEL received an Award of Excellence from the Western Extension Directors Association. See the article.

The point here is that there are approaches to promoting and achieving conservation that have not been fully supported or implemented in Utah.

Joanna suggests that there are a lot of approaches to promoting urban water conservation. Going to low water landscaping is one approach, but making other types of landscapes more water wise through adjusting irrigation systems and human behaviors also has potential to yield savings.

Understanding How Pricing Can advance Conservation Without undermining utilities’ revenue goals by Charlene Leurig, July 2014

This is what the State Colorado is doing on water conservation. Information on the State of Colorado’s Legislation on water is from Western Resource Advocates; www.westernresourceadvocates.org• The State of Colorado legislation to collect water data. Adopted by the Colorado Water Conservation Board ( CWCB) Board November 16, 2011 Guidelines Regarding the Reporting of Water Use and these reports are to be submitted every seven years;

  • In September of 2009, the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) and the Office of Water Conservation and Drought Planning (OWCDP) agreed to implement a series of projects. (approach to conservation strategy) to “develop a comprehensive water conservation technical platform that would support the CWCB in its continuing efforts to develop strategies to meet Colorado’s future water supply needs,” (Reidy and Deheza, 2009). The report  outlines the 3 foundational elements of conservation planning (conservation levels analysis): leak detection, rates and data tracking.
  • Colorado Water Conservation Board web page

The Water Pyramid of Success: Build and Maintain a Sustainable Water Supply

  • Recognize and formalize (with appropriate legislation) the importance of water use efficiency to every aspect of a high quality of life, commerce and environment
  • Conduct planning for current and future water reliability that includes all manner of water supply scenarios, including the application of new technologies and combinations; fund regional projects, pilot new techniques and provide education/assistance to local agencies
  • Establish water rates that cover the costs of service and send economic signals to each individual user use water in accordance with State legislation; provide front-line user assistance
  • Take responsibility for efficient resource use on your property.