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GreenStep City Best Practices Environmental Management

Efficient Water and Wastewater Systems
no. 20

Assess and improve city drinking water and wastewater systems and related facilities.
  Best Practice Action 7      [ 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 ]       [all actions]

Create a demand-side pricing program to reduce demands on water and wastewater systems.

  • Like the food pyramid, the water conservation hierarchy quickly and visually helps us all focus on first reducing water use, then reusing water, then recylcing it. Note that research in MN shows that odd/even watering ordinances do not decrease consumption, but a Monday/Thursday, Tuesday/Friday ordinance does (by cutting allowed days of watering by 33%).
  • The Metropolitan Council's Water Conservation Toolbox is a one-stop shop for resources and has extensive tips and resources for water customers and water suppliers. Distilled from those resources is Using City Water Rates to Promote Water Conservation. The MN Dept. of Natural Resources requires water utilities to report water conservation efforts and outcomes via an annual report to MPARS (MN Permitting and Reporting System) and has Benchmarks and Conservation Measures (2007) for water appropriation permits. For water conservation news, send a request to info.dnr@state.mn.us to subscribe to the Community Public Water Suppliers e-newsletter. And see policy ideas at Water Offset Policies for Water-Neutral Community Growth (Alliance for Water Efficiency: 2016).
  • The Water Underground: Reframing the Local Groundwater Picture (Freshwater Society: 2016) helps public water suppliers stabilize their supplies so they remain safe, reliable and at lowest long-term cost to ratepayers.
  • Guidelines for Water Reuse (US EPA: 2012) covers water reclamation and reuse, planning for future water reuse systems, and information on indirect potable reuse and industrial reuse. Disinfection and treatment technologies, emerging contaminants, and public involvement and acceptance are also discussed.
  • WaterSense at Work: Best Management Practices for Commercial and Institutional Facilities is a compilation of water-saving tips, techniques, and fixture recommendations for commercial and institutional sectors, including hospitality, food service, healthcare, laboratory, office buildings, and educational facilities, which collectively use 17% of the water provided by the nation's public water supplies.
  • Utilizing a standard market technique, Falcon Heights instituted a consumption-based fee for sanitary sewer service rather than a flat fee and saw an 11% reduction in sewer usage.
  • The ultimate city goal is sustainable use of water: maintaining water quality and water withdrawals within the amount provided by the natural world. Sustainable management of water thus depends on assessments, at appropriate geographic/time scales, of precipitation minus evapotranspiration, surface waters, groundwater quantity and recharge, runoff, and water allocations for plant/animal ecosystems and people and businesses. See the Minnesota Water Sustainability Framework (Univ. of MN Water Resources Center: 2011. NOTE: 48 MB file!)
  • The MN Dept. of Health provides Source Water Assessments - summaries of the water sources used, drinking water contaminants of concern, and the susceptibility of drinking water sources to contamination - for all Minnesota public water systems.
Adopt a conservation water rate structure (with 25-cent minimum increments between blocks or normal rates), and/or arrange for water users to see their water use history compared to similar users. Report water efficiency achieved through development review/incentives under action 2.5, and report water conservation connection fees under action 3.4
Institute a consumption-based fee for sanitary sewer service rather than a flat fee; study potential cost-savings from deferring water supply additions by demand reduction actions; report ratio of 5-yr. average peak day water use to 5-yr. av. day use (should be under 2.6); report water supply leak % under action 20.3
Modify rate structures to target peak-use times and discourage or defer use; report progress toward (Met Council 2040) goal of 90 gal./person/day; create a sustainable water use plan that at least verifies that there is enough water to meet projected needs out 25 years in the metro area and out 10 years in greater MN.


Date action report first entered:   01/28/2019
Date of last report update:   01/28/2019
Year action initially completed:   2019
Action completed after joining GreenStep?   Yes

Implementation details:
Crystal, as a member of the Joint Water Commission, purchases water from Minneapolis. In 2018 the city did a utility rate study and changed the basis for billing for water and sanitary sewer usage to a consumption basis, in part, to encourage wise use of water.

For more information contact:
Anne Norris (City staff)   |   Anne.Norris@crystalmn.gov   |   763-531-1140

View All Crystal Actions


Date action report first entered:   04/05/2019
Date of last report update:   04/05/2019
Year action initially completed:   2019
Action completed after joining GreenStep?   Yes

Implementation details:
We partner with Rich Prairie Sewer and Water for our City Sewer and Water. As of April 1st, they implemented a new rate structure that charges residents actual water and sewer usage instead of a blanket usage. This will hopefully reduce the amount of water that consumers use as they become more aware of their usage and costs.

For more information contact:
Kari Tyson (City staff)   |   karit@pierzmn.org   |   320-468-6471

Rich Prairie Sewer and Water District

View All Pierz Actions


Date action report first entered:   02/17/2016
Date of last report update:   02/17/2016

Implementation details:
The City of Winthrop has adopted a conservation rate schedule for water. The more water that is used the higher rate the customer will pay.

            view file

For more information contact:
Melissa Lorenz (City staff)   |   cityclerk@winthropminnesota.com   |   507-647-5306

View All Winthrop Actions


Date action report first entered:   01/29/2018
Date of last report update:   01/29/2018
Action completed after joining GreenStep?   No

Implementation details:
The City’s tiered water rate structure is in place to help encourage efficient water use. The water and wastewater rates are in City Code and can be found here: http://library.amlegal.com/nxt/gateway.dll/Minnesota/bloomington_mn/bloomingtonminnesotacodeofordinances?f=templates$fn=default.htm$3.0$vid=amlegal:bloomington_mn

For more information contact:
Steve Gurney (City staff)   |   sgurney@BloomingtonMN.gov   |   952-563-4606

View All Bloomington Actions

Coon Rapids

Date action report first entered:   09/01/2017
Date of last report update:   09/01/2017
Year action initially completed:   2014
Action completed after joining GreenStep?   No

Implementation details:
Coon Rapids charges for water consumption through a tiered system to encourages conserving water and rewards those that use less. All businesses are charged a base fee for sewer rates and then charged a specific amount per 1000 gallons of consumption. This system applies to all commercial, industrial, institutional and restaurant sites in the City. In 2014, the system was expanded to residential sites in the city that increase water rates as usage amounts increase. This also applies to sprinkling meters at commercial/industrial sites. City staff continues to use this as a tool to reward water conservation efforts city-wide.

Descriptive links: http://www.ci.coon-rapids.mn.us/utilitybilling.htm

For more information contact:
Colleen Sinclair (City staff)   |   csinclair@coonrapidsmn.gov   |   763-767-6485

View All Coon Rapids Actions

Eden Prairie

Date action report first entered:   01/18/2013

Implementation details:
Minimum Water Usage Charge Eliminated – In collaboration with the Conservation Commission, the City of Eden Prairie recently adopted a resolution to eliminate the four unit minimum water usage charge for our utility customers. The four unit minimum usage charge was established a number of years ago, but has recently become a disincentive to those customers wishing to conserve as much water as possible. Most city customers never drop below four units during a billing cycle (four units is equivalent to 4,000 gallons). However, there is a small and growing portion of our customer base who are diligently managing their water use and have found ways to drop below this mark. The four unit minimum charge will be removed starting in January 2013. Those customers using less than four units during their billing cycle could see a reduction of $1.90 to $7.60 on their next water bill.

For more information contact:
Tania Mahtani (City staff)   |   tmahtani@edenprairie.org   |   952-949-8413

View All Eden Prairie Actions


Date action report first entered:   04/27/2016
Date of last report update:   04/27/2016

Implementation details:
The City’s current water conservation measures is through ordinances that restrict lawn watering to odd-even cycle from May through September.  The upcoming Utility Rate Study will provide an opportunity to explore other areas of potential advancement on this topic.

For more information contact:
Nick Egger (City staff)   |   negger@hastingsmn.gov   |   651-480-2370

View All Hastings Actions

La Prairie

Date action report first entered:   01/04/2013

Implementation details:
Move from a flat rate to a usage based water and sewer billing

Outcome measures/metrics:
This project has been completed. All homes and businesses are now billed on usage for water and sewer. We have streamlined the billing process to allow for the electronic reading of meters and contracted with GRPUC to provide the billing on the same bill as electric. In 2014 we will have rate increase, but the entire increase will be on the usage.

View All La Prairie Actions

New Hope

Date action report first entered:   04/02/2015
Date of last report update:   11/19/2018
Action completed after joining GreenStep?   No

Implementation details:
In 2010 the city implemented a multi-tiered water rate structure mandated by the state of Minnesota to encourage water conservation.

For more information contact:
Jeff Alger (City staff)   |   jalger@ci.new-hope.mn.us   |   763-531-5119

View All New Hope Actions


Date action report first entered:   02/19/2016
Date of last report update:   02/01/2019
Action completed after joining GreenStep?   No

Implementation details:
A 3-tiered water conservation rate was adopted and implemented January 1, 2010. Other conservation measures such as sprinkling/irrigation restrictions are part of city code.

For more information contact:
Russ Lupkes (City staff)   |   rlupkes@richfieldmn.gov   |   6128619175

View All Richfield Actions


Date action report first entered:   01/13/2015
Date of last report update:   02/11/2015

Implementation details:
The city created a new water conservation-based rate structure in 2013.

For more information contact:
Ryan Johnson (City staff)   |   Ryan.johnson@cityofroseville.com   |   651-792-7049

View All Roseville Actions

Saint Louis Park

Date action report first entered:   01/30/2014

Implementation details:
City has set up a tier system for water conservation. Tier 1 is low consumption consumer rate and Tier 3 is high consumption consumer rate. Tiers are separated by over 25-cents/tier level.

Outcome measures/metrics:
Lower water usage; gallons consumed.

            view file

For more information contact:
Shannon Pinc (City staff)   |   spinc@stlouispark.org   |   952-924-2191

Met Council

View All Saint Louis Park Actions


Date action report first entered:   05/08/2013

Implementation details:
The City also has a tiered conservation rate structure for water rates. Based on the amount of water used, residents pay as low as 88 cents per thousand gallons water, and as much as $4.88 per thousand gallons of water. The tiered system may be viewed at: http://ci.woodbury.mn.us/environment-main/water-restrictions-conservation/water-a-sewer-rates For residents and businesses that sign up for e-bill or an electronic account, they can see their water use compared to other users on their street.

Descriptive links: http://ci.woodbury.mn.us/environment-main/water-restrictions-conservation/water-a-sewer-rates             view file

For more information contact:
Jennifer McLoughlin (City staff)   |   jmcloughlin@ci.woodbury.mn.us   |   651-714-3522

View All Woodbury Actions

pending means a star rating has not yet been assigned to this city

greenstep advisor
Brent Vizanko, Assoc. Engineer, Minnesota Technical Assistance Program: 612/624-4653, bvizan@umn.edu, http://mntap.umn.edu/us/staff.htm