Approved by the Board of Directors November 14, 2000
During the last several years, South Walton Utility Co., Inc. has experienced tremendous growth throughout our franchise area. In an effort to provide future potable water to our customers, the Water Resources Partnership (WRP) was formed. On June 2, 1999, the Northwest Florida Water Management District issued WRP a permit to pump water from our well fields located north of our franchise area. On April 17, 2000, the Northwest Florida Water Management District formally transferred Permit No. 980046 to South Walton Utility Co., Inc.
Northwest Florida Water Management District has mandated that South Walton Utility Co., Inc. draft and implement a water conservation plan and ensure sufficient measures are being implemented to conserve water. Because our area is undergoing rapid growth, South Walton Utility Co., Inc.’s water resource planners and conservation members must work to balance water resources and the increasing demand for potable water. The least expensive way to provide water for growth and to ensure an adequate supply for the future is through wise management and careful use of our current supplies.
Water conservation is not something that can be imposed on the public. It must be voluntarily and willingly accepted, and become a shared responsibility between South Walton Utility Co., Inc. and our customers. Only if citizens are willing to embrace and practice a conservation ethic and adopt water conservation as a fundamental part of life in Northwest Florida can South Walton Utility Co., Inc. succeed in meeting long-term water conservation and supply goals. Through comprehensive planning, the responsible application of best available water conservation technologies, public education, and recycling of wastewater, our water resources can be managed to sustain projected growth well into the future.
There are a number of methods that can be utilized in water resource management. These various methods are the components of water conservation. By utilizing these methods we can help reduce the amount and waste of water consumed by business, agriculture, industry and individuals.
The society at large benefits from conservation by preserving environmental resources. Water conservation reduces demands on wastewater systems and, in fact, the need to reduce wastewater treatment costs is a strong rationale for water conservation. Conservation also can benefit consumers by lowering energy and long-term water costs.
BENEFITS OF WATER CONSERVATION
Water conservation consists of any beneficial reduction in water losses, waste, or use. In the context of utility planning the term “beneficial” usually means that the benefits of an activity outweigh the costs. Conserving water can be beneficial in many ways, but one important reason for conservation is that it can help our systems avoid, downsize, or postpone water and wastewater projects. Our facilities used to treat and deliver drinking water (and to collect and treat wastewater) are sized to meet the demand. If the level of demand is inflated by wasteful use, our customers pay more in both capital and operating costs than necessary to provide safe and adequate water supply and wastewater services. Moreover, when the cost of supplying drinking water and processing wastewater is reduced, financial resources can be used to meet other needs.
In connection with infrastructure funding, the value of conservation is appropriately assessed in terms of supply, treatment, and distribution costs that can be avoided because of planned reductions in water demand. Conservation becomes more valuable over time because future water supplies and the facilities needed to deliver them are expected to cost more, even when adjusting for inflation.
In other words, permanent conservation savings that are realized today populations and ensure that habitats and ecosystems are protected, our water must be sustainable and renewable. Sound water resource management, which emphasizes careful, efficient use of water, is essential in order to achieve our objectives.
Efficient water use can have major environmental, public health, and economic benefits by helping to impove water quality, maintain aquatic ecosystems, and protect drinking water resources. As we face increasing risks to ecosystems and their biological integrity, the inextricable link between water quality and water quantity becomes more important. Water efficiency is one way of addressing water quality and quantity goals. Our efficient use of water can also prevent pollution by reducing wastewater flows, recycling industrial process water, reclaiming wastewater, and using less energy.
- Create awareness of the growing concern for future water shortages.
- Develop a community interest in water conservation.
- Reduction of per capita consumption.
CONSERVATION PLAN COMPONENTS
- Community Involvement
- Public Education
- Retrofit (Replacement of) Existing Plumbing
- Landscaping & Xeriscape (pronounced Zer-I-scape)
- (Discourage and/or Reduce Irrigation)
- Reclaimed Water
- Reduction of Unaccounted For Water
- Rate Structure Considerations
Ongoing community involvement helps maintain and build support for achieving conservation goals and “getting the word out” about the conservation effort. Participants can act as a focus group for exploring specific conservation measures and also can provide valuable linkages to key groups – consumers, businesses, and institutions – involved in implementing conservation measures. Community groups can assist our water system in monitoring results and adjusting program implementation. Utilizing high school or trade school students, we can assist those unable to make necessary repairs or replace plumbing equipment. In addition to the benefits to the elderly or those on a fixed income, students could learn by doing and while making a valuable contribution to their community and assisting in the conservation of our natural resources.
For our water system, involving the community in water system planning is a new experience. Community involvement does not have to consume excessive time or resources. Even a few “town hall” meetings or “brainstorming” sessions can be helpful. Our system managers will find that involving members of the community in developing goals, implementing programs, and evaluating results is a very worthwhile investment.
Recommendations: Create focus groups to help identify and recommend corrections to water waste; Citizens Helping Citizens groups
Water providers have become increasingly aware in recent years of the need for effective communication with the public. As the era of abundant low-cost water supplies comes to an end and utilities are faced with difficult decisions, such as choosing between higher cost supply options or inconvenient conservation measures, effective public information, and involvement may ultimately determine the success or failure of the water supplier’s programs and plans.
From educating the public about the suitability and safety of reuse (reclaimed) water for outside residential and municipal use, to teaching school children the importance of water conservation at home, to convincing rate payers of the long-term benefits of inclining block or other conservation rates; public information programs will be a crucial component in the implementation of South Walton Utility Company, Inc.’s Water Conservation Plan.
An effective public information program must begin with increased public awareness of the water supply problems. Due to the recent drought conditions, the newspapers and radio stations have been helping to inform the citizens of the need to conserve water supplies. Continued articles and radio announcements are excellent ways to continually remind citizens of the ongoing need to conserve potable water. These articles and reminders should be coupled with direct mail literature such as bill inserts and brochures stressing conservation in general as well as specific ways they can conserve.
South Walton Utility Company, Inc. will educate schools and students on water conservation using the American Water Works Association’s “Blue Thumb” Program. South Walton Utility Company, Inc. will continue to educate our customers on water conservation by providing information with customers’ bills. We will also communicate to condominiums and hotels the of charge to our customers.
South Walton Utility Company, Inc. will provide seminars every 2 years to customers on water conservation. In an effort to educate our customer base on water conservation our top 5 percent of water consumers will be educated first on water conservation measures to implement.
The AWWA will be our primary source of promotional and educational aids. Bumper stickers, decals, bill stuffers, youth educational materials, and video guidance materials for improving presentation skills and implementing effective public affairs programs are all available through the AWWA. South Walton Utility Company, Inc. is aware that effective public education programs are long-term management commitments aimed at achieving long-term results.
In many communities, the formation of citizen advisory groups has helped utilities in planning and implementing specific water conservation programs. Such programs can be very helpful in communications and public education. Educational literature available to our customers are: “Easy Ways to Save Water, Money, and Energy at Home,” “Water Conservation at Why to-Where to-How to,” “Wise Water use Outdoors,” and “It’s Natural – Conservation Landscaping.”
Recommendations: Contact local TV and Radio stations to assist in providing public
announcements about the benefits of water conservation; implement educational programs in the local schools to teach children about the need to conserve water; provide educational material in billings; create website for South Walton Utility to provide a forum for public education; provide magnetic advertising signs for all South Walton Utility vehicles to get the word out on a daily basis to the public.
Without a comprehensive Water conservation Plan, South Walton Utility Company, Inc. will have to continue looking for sources of potable water to meet our growing needs. We will continue to emphasize to all our customers how critical water conservation is, not only from an environmental standpoint, but also from a fiscal standpoint.
Based on statistical data, when our Water Conservation Plan and Replacement Program is fully implemented we should anticipate a 10 to 30 percent reduction in water consumption. South Walton Utility Company, Inc. will continue to refine and update our Water Conservation Plan to keep up with the changes we are experiencing within our franchise area. Water is a limited resource that we can not take for granted. Let’s all work together to conserve water through our Water Conservation Plan.