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    Delaying or downsizing a capital investmentConservation extends the life of existing resources, freeing up water supplies for other uses, such as population growth, new industry, and environmental conservation. Source: Water Conservation Programs – A Planning Manual (M52), American Water Works Association
Practice sustainability

Manage your water infrastructure with the future in mind.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, along with its partners, has developed resources and programs to help water professionals and the water industry improve water efficiency efforts.

As a broader effort, EPA's Sustainable Infrastructure Initiative (www.epa.gov/waterinfrastructure) involves all aspects of water conservation, from watershed planning and effective utility management to encouraging pricing structures that fully recover utility costs and encourage efficiency. The goal is to move infrastructure management toward more sustainable practices by encouraging innovation, facilitating partnerships, and promoting research and development.

Both programs include resources and tips for using water more efficiently, with the Sustainable Infrastructure Initiative focusing on the utility or broader community and WaterSense focusing on consumers and businesses.

With the EPA's help, WaterSense utility partners can encourage their customers to use water-efficient products, choose water-efficient services, and be aware of how they use their water and which will help them save water, reducing overall demand.

The four pillars of better water management include:

  • Better management of water and wastewater utilities can encompass practices like asset management and environmental management systems. Consolidation and public-private partnerships also could offer utilities significant savings.
  • Rates that reflect the full-cost pricing of service and rate restructuring can help utilities capture the actual costs of operating water systems, raise revenues, and also help to conserve water.
  • Efficient water use is critical, particularly in those parts of the country that are undergoing water shortages. We need to create market incentives to encourage more efficient use of water and to protect our sources of water.
  • Watershed approaches look more broadly at water resources in a coordinated way, which is challenging because we have not traditionally thought of infrastructure management within the context of water quality protection.

For more information, visit www.epa.gov/watersense or call 866-WTR-SENS.

— Benjamin Grumbles is assistant administrator for water with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C.