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Policies and Regulation

Utility policies and regulation that may affect customer water use includes developing and maintaining:

  • Water Waste Ordinance
  • Conservation-Oriented Water Rates
  • Water Budgets (for irrigable lands)
  • Landscape Design Requirements
  • Regulation/Requirements for New Construction

Water utilities have varying degrees of authority to pass and enforce regulations and requirements, however, most can effectively limit water waste through ordinance by dictating prohibitions on customer activities such:

  • Time of day watering;
  • Excessive irrigation runoff;
  • Excessive pavement washing; etc.

The CWW Guidebook of Best Practices presents BP 5 for Water Waste Ordinances.

The cost of water use can influence customer water demand, especially if the water rates are punitive for increasing and/or seasonal water use.  Although there are issues with economic justice related to the implementation of tiered water rates or water budgets, these tools can be used by utilities if they develop and maintain accurate water user data.  Of particular issue are the following:

  • Developing inclining block rates that penalize residential customers with large families and/or large irrigable areas.
  • Creating water budgets that do not accurately account for irrigable areas (typically solved with GIS). 

Notwithstanding these issues, conservation-oriented rates have been developed and used effectively in numerous Colorado communities.  More information regarding conservation-oriented rates is included in the CWW Guidebook of Best Practices BP 1 (which also includes information associated with metering, tap fees and customer categorization which are included elsewhere in the BMP Tool Box).

Landscape water budgets, when properly developed provide essential information to customers regarding the proper amount of water that should be applied for their specific location and amount of irrigable land.  This is particularly helpful for customers irrigating turf, since turf can be easily over watered without customer knowledge.  Water budgets help customers better understand their consumption patterns and make sound decisions about how to best manage irrigation properly.

The CWW Guidebook of Best Practices presents BP 7 for Landscape Water Budgets.

Some water utilities may have control over how landscapes are constructed and maintained in their service area, although some water companies and special districts do not have jurisdiction over these activities.  Nonetheless, all water utilities can create incentives for efficient and responsible landscape design through creating incentives via tap fees and/or impact fees, as well as water rates.

The basis of intelligent landscape design and installation includes creating:

  • Rules for new landscape and irrigation design and installation; and
  • Minimum training and certification requirements for landscape irrigation professionals.

The CWW Guidebook of Best Practices presents BP 8 for Rules and Regulations for Landscape Design and Installation.

Indoor water use efficiency can be substantially influenced by regulation that dictates those aspects of water delivery and use that can help homeowners and business owners reduce tap fees and long-term water use costs.  There are a number of national programs, including EPA Water Sense and the Green Building programs like LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) that inform realistic and progressive regulation related to indoor efficiency criteria that address:

  • Leaks
  • Service Pressure
  • Hot Water Delivery
  • Toilets
  • Bathroom Faucets
  • Kitchen Sink Faucets
  • Showerheads
  • Appliances and Cooling Systems

The CWW Guidebook of Best Practices presents BP 11 for Rules for New Construction (Indoor Uses)