Like the food pyramid, the water conservation hierarchy quickly and visually helps us all focus on first reducing water use, then reusing water, then recycling it. Note that research in MN shows that odd/even watering ordinances, while serving an important peak-shaving function for city wells, do not decrease consumption, but a Monday/Thursday, Tuesday/Friday ordinance does (by cutting allowed days of watering by 33%).
Shoreview became the first MN city to deploy WaterSmart water-user feedback tools to increase water conservation.
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, including how to use 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 email@example.com 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).
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.
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 BPA 2.5, and report water conservation connection fees under BPA 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 BPA 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.
Who's doing it
Crystal - 2 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2019
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.
Water utility fees for sanitary sewer service is comprised of consumption-based fees--where the amount of water used, may alter the cost of monthly fees. This is consistent with demand-side pricing for water utility, which has been shown to work as an incentive to residential water conservation. Additionally, water utility in Edina allows water users to view their water use history, and see how usage compares to other similar entities.
As a component of our Water Preservation Program - H2OPP, we have increased our top tier water rate by 30% and our wastewater rate is tied to that same formula. Additionally, we just completed a pilot project in which we installed meters in the waste water line at one of our manufactured home parks and will be sending written correspondence to them advising them of our findings (significant difference between municipal water sold and amount going into wastewater (increase) system. They will be required to formulate a plan to address the difference (suspect 90% infiltration) or we will reinstall the meters and begin imposing new fee based on meter calculations. We have a total of three manufactured home parks and 6/7 large multi-family complexes and we will continue implementing the same program with all of them in 2020 and until done.
Thus, combination of the increased Tier rate and potential rate increase for manufactured parks and others are designed to reduce use.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Reduction in amount of municipal water pumped
Reduction in I & I and subsequent reduction in flow to Met Council as tabulated by meter.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
Move from a flat rate to a usage based water and sewer billing
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
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.
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.