Water Use Efficiency

The American Water Works Association (AWWA) supports the efficient use and management of water resources at all levels in society. As stewards of water resources, water utilities are encouraged to support and adopt codes, policies, procedures, and programs that integrate demand management with supply side management. To achieve this, AWWA supports the adoption of a variety of water conservation principles and practices for all types of potable and non-potable water supplies and classes of water users.

Utilities should use comprehensive integrated resource planning to make full use of conserved water in water supply planning and participate in regional coordination and integration efforts. Conserved water should be viewed as a source of water that provides multiple benefits (e.g. growth, environmental flows, expanded economic uses), equal in importance to the utilities' primary water source. In many cases, water conservation is the least cost option for a new source of supply. Additionally, utilities should work with other agencies to adopt and implement efficient water use practices and land use policies.

Utilities should demonstrate leadership for water efficiency and conservation by implementing efficient water use practices in all utility facilities. Utilities should evaluate the efficiency of raw water conveyance, treatment and distribution systems. This includes the use of accurate metering from the source, annual water loss audits (preferably validated) and a comprehensive water loss control program. Utilities should accurately meter, monitor and track all consumption data, and use full-cost pricing and conservation rate structures for potable and non-potable water that include clear rate increases between tiers. Meters should be read at least once a month and customers should be billed monthly, showing clearly labeled consumption units.

Utilities should evaluate and implement or promote cost-effective and beneficial water efficiency and conservation practices for customer end uses. This includes the conversion of high water-use plumbing fixtures, appliances and equipment to highly efficient designs; the promotion of efficient irrigation; and the use of climate-appropriate landscape materials. Utilities should also offer services such as water-use assessments for indoor and outdoor uses and technical assistance to their customers for those services. 

Utilities should also support education and public information on local water resource issues, water efficiency, and conservation to increase awareness of customer water use. In addition, there are opportunities for development and implementation of appropriate water efficiency certification programs, standards and codes for plumbing fixtures and appliances, as well as outdoor uses of water. Utilities should encourage appropriate onsite water reuse, including rainwater and stormwater harvesting and the use of air conditioner condensate and gray water, consistent with the protection of public health. Utilities should also support continued research into efficient water use practices. 

Other AWWA members should encourage efficient water practices in their own facilities and operations, educate their customers and clients on the importance of water efficiency, and promote building and product designs that both encourage more sustainable water use and respond to reductions in water demand.

Practices specified in this policy statement are consistent with all other AWWA policy statements.

Adopted by the Board of Directors Jan. 27, 1991, revised Jan. 31, 1993, and June 15, 1997, and reaffirmed Jan. 20, 2002.
This policy statement was approved by the Administrative & Policy Council on Sept. 28, 2007, and the Executive Committee on Nov. 3, 2007. It was reaffirmed Jan. 2011 and revised June 8, 2014 and October 24, 2018.