Water conservation activities and water reuse will play an important role in balancing the need for additional water supply with strategies to lessen that need. By implementing a comprehensive, statewide approach for water conservation and water-reuse activities, CWCB and other state agencies will strengthen programs from the local to the state level. Much like TMDs, agricultural water transfers, and storage, conservation and reuse are not “silver-bullets;” however, they are critical components of strategies to address future needs. The creation of scalable technical resources, support of local initiatives through financial incentives, and best-practices sharing will bolster conservation and reuse.
The plan examines water conservation, reuse, land use, agricultural water conservation, self-supplied industrial (SSI) conservation, and state agency conservation. These water management strategies will help Colorado close the water supply gap while minimizing trade-offs that other solutions might create. Increased conservation, reuse, and better integration of land use and water planning will help maintain a healthy environment, promote livable and sustainable cities, and preserve agricultural production into the future.
The State is wise to invest funds for implementing water conservation activities statewide. These are some of the most inexpensive implementation strategies today, and will allow local water providers to be more efficient with the water resources they already have.
When Everyone Conserves, Everyone Saves
- Colorado Water Loss Initiative
In August 2018, the Colorado Water Conservation Board launched the Colorado Water Loss Initiative, a comprehensive program of AWWA M36 water loss training and technical assistance for urban water systems across Colorado. This program is part of a strategic objective from the Colorado Water Plan: to support water management activities for all water providers.
The Initiative is structured and funded for the largest 165 water systems, though smaller systems may be considered if space is available. The focus of the program will be the AWWA M36 water audit, the free AWWA Water Audit Software and associated WRF 4639 Level 1 Validation methodology.
The AWWA M36 water audit methodology is recommended best practice in North America to support informed decision making for water loss control and revenue recovery. Cost-effective water loss management reduces cost, increases revenue, serving the utility's bottom line and the rate-payer alike.
Resources related to this training opportunity can be found on the external site coloradowaterloss.org/resources
- Financing Sustainable Water: Building Better Water Rates in an Uncertain World
The CWCB and the Alliance for Water Efficiency partnered to bring two water rate workshops to Glenwood Springs and the Denver metro area in 2017. Sustainable water rates are key to addressing the looming water supply and demand gap in Colorado.
Developing rate structures that successfully balance revenue management, resource efficiency, and fiscal sustainability is becoming more challenging in a world of scarce supply, volatile weather, and declining demand. Some of the innovative resources and strategies highlighted at the workshops that will help Colorado water managers navigate these challenges, included:
- Strategies to model and evaluate rates that achieve revenue stability AND incentivize efficiency
- Policies and planning tools to enhance utilities’ financial outlook
- How cost-effective efficiency programs support revenue management and fiscal sustainability
- Changing demand trends and implications for rate-making and conservation
- Tools to embrace uncertainty and navigate the “known unknowns” facing Colorado water providers
- Steps to meet Colorado State Water Plan goals, such as scenario planning, adaptive strategies, incorporating the true costs of water into rate design, and exploring alternative water rate designs.
- Benefits of Municipal Water Conservation
Water savings resulting from water efficiency activities can reduce water demands and thereby assist providers in avoiding, downsizing, or postponing the construction and operation of water supply facilities and wastewater facilities—as well as eliminating, reducing, or postponing water purchases. In addition to these water supply benefits, Colorado can achieve other societal, political, and environmental benefits, including:
- Reduced wastewater discharges through indoor water savings, which can improve water quality and aquatic habitat
- Demonstration of a commitment to sustainability
- The meeting of political and regulatory requirements necessary to obtain permitting for local and regional water supply projects
- Delay of capital costs for new projects
Widespread development of potable reuse will be an important facet of closing the future water supply-demand gap. Many innovative reuse projects already exist, and Colorado can learn from several areas in the United States that are exploring future pathways in reuse technologies.
- Conservation Planning
According to Colorado’s Water Conservation Act of 2004, all covered entities – retail water providers who sell 2,000 acre feet or more of water annually – must have a water efficiency plan on file with the state that has been approved by the CWCB. Each plan must include the minimum required plan elements as outlined in the Act.
The CWCB provides technical assistance as well as grant money to covered entities seeking to develop or update water conservation plans.