Get ahead of the curve on awareness of water waste

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Get ahead of the curve on awareness of water waste

If utilities and corporations can start driving behavior change now, coming price increases won’t be as painful later.

While almost half our Eco Pulse ™ 2013 participants say they avoid letting the water run while washing dishes, brushing teeth, etc., and 44 percent of  respondents say they use their washer or dishwasher only when they’re completely full, there’s much room for improvement on the water conservation front.  Only 21 percent of Americans said they had replaced toilets/plumbing fixtures with water-efficient (e.g., WaterSense® labeled) alternatives.

Just as important, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, reports that landscape irrigation accounts for almost one-third of all residential water use – more than 9 billion gallons per day.

And we found that only around a third of Americans water their lawns as infrequently as possible, and less than ten percent have planted indigenous/low water landscaping.

Access to clean drinking water has just never been an issue for Americans born in the U.S. It’s an “invisible” resource that we rarely think about, and right now water is cheap.

But over the next 20 years, water utilities are going to have to pass along the costs of upgrading our aging water and wastewater infrastructure  — projects   expected to run in the trillions.

We know price increases drive behavior change faster than anything else, but people won’t be happy about it.

Utilities s
hould be thinking about how to get ahead of the curve on this issue to make Americans more aware of the water they’re using/wasting. If they can start driving behavior change now, coming price increases won’t be quite so painful later.

“Waste” is the key word to use in messaging. Most Americans, regardless of their socio-political viewpoint or level of green engagement, are uncomfortable with wasting, or being poor stewards of resources (either monetary or natural).

The challenge for water utilities is to make the invisible resource visible – drawing attention to bad behaviors in a way that doesn’t come across as judgmental or alarmist.

Skills

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Posted on

July 15, 2013

About the Author

Lee Ann Head

Lee Ann is a former contributor to Shelton Insights.

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