Denver Water’s conservation program detailed #CODrought

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Here’s a look at Denver Water’s conservation program from Jim Lochhead writing for the Summit Daily News. Lochhead is the head honcho at the utility. Here’s an excerpt:

Denver Water is leading the way in water conservation in Colorado, helping customers with an ambitious goal: Use 22 percent less water than before the 2002 drought. And the plan is working. Denver Water customers are using 20 percent less water than they were before 2002 — and there are nearly 10 percent more of them.

While Denver Water has promoted water conservation as early as the 1920s, following the drought of 2002, Denver Water customers embraced a cultural shift in how they value water. One of the primary drivers for this culture change has been Denver Water’s award-winning advertising campaign. The campaign helps customers appreciate the value of water by encouraging them to “Use Only What You Need.” A 2011 survey found that almost 95 percent of respondents recognize the advertising campaign.

Aside from the campaign, several programs and rules encourage customers to use water wisely. Large irrigation customers, such as homeowners associations and commercial properties, can earn $6,000 per acre-foot of water saved by developing a plan to cut water use by at least 3 acre-feet a year. In the past five years, Denver Water has signed 68 contracts with those customers (with more in the works), saving an estimated 510 acre-feet of water per year — the annual amount used by roughly 1,275 households.

Denver Water will pay industrial and institutional customers that save at least 100,000 gallons of water in a year. During the past five years, Denver Water completed 38 contracts and saved about 390 acre-feet of water — the annual amount used by roughly 975 households.

Denver Water offers rebates to residential customers who install high-efficiency toilets, washers and efficient irrigation products. Since 2007, nearly 108,700 residential rebates have been processed by Denver Water. Rebates for new high-efficiency products helped save about 2,500 acre-feet of water — roughly the amount used by 6,250 homes in a year.

The rate structure is affecting customers’ water use habits as well. Customers pay for water based on an increasing block-rate structure. The more they use, the more they pay.

More conservation coverage here.

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