Conservation Tips


In recent years, water conservation has become vitally important to all of us in Florida. Due to the area’s increasing population and the threat of droughts, we must do all we can to conserve water year-round. Landscapes can put a great demand on our urban water supply, often accounting for more than 50 percent of all water used for home consumption. Conserving water through creative landscaping is what Xeriscape ™ is all about.

Simply selecting the most suitable plants, shrubs, and trees for our environment and applying a few basic Xeriscape ™ methods will substantially reduce your landscape water needs. You can save from 30 to 80 percent of your outside water-use with Xeriscape ™ landscape.

In addition to saving water, a Xeriscape ™ landscape saves time and money. Landscapes designed with Xeriscape ™ principles typically require less maintenance and will better tolerate droughts, and resist diseases and insects, as well.

Whether your landscape is already established, or you’re starting new, take a moment to learn how you can benefit from the water-wise concepts of Xeriscape ™ landscape. Remember, water is the lifeblood of Florida. Don’t bleed us dry. Plant it smart and Xeriscape ™. PLANT IT SMART.

Although the word itself may be unfamiliar, Xeriscape ™ utilizes common landscaping principles, which have been known by industry professionals for years. By following these simple principles, you can still enjoy all the lush beauty of a Florida landscape and, at the same time, save water, time, and money.

Incorporating Xeriscape ™ principles into your landscape is easy and does not require a large investment. A Xeriscape ™ saves time and money, but, most importantly, protects the environment and saves our most valuable resource, water.

As an immediate requirement of CS/HB 91, the Xeriscape ™ Bill, effective May 9, 1991, the act requires …Any person who purchases and installs an automatic lawn sprinkler system…shall install a rain sensor device or switch which will override the irrigation cycle of the sprinkler system when adequate rainfall has occurred. Enforcement of this section is covered in Florida Statutes sections 125.568 and 166.048. For information on retrofitting irrigation systems, a certified specialist in the area may be contacted.

South Walton Utility Company, Inc. will make available to all landscaping companies, irrigation companies’, developers’, house builders’, and contractors’ statistical data showing savings with Xeriscape ™ compared to conventional landscaping.

Recommendations: Encourage plantings of low-water use plants; prepare a display in a public area of an effective Xeriscape ™landscape to teach the public about the effectiveness of this type of landscape in water conservation; provide notifications in billings about retrofitting irrigation systems with rain sensor devices.


The use of treated wastewater for irrigation and other beneficial applications is becoming more commonplace in response to restrictions on the discharge of treated effluents to surface water bodies, and the need to preserve high-quality potable water supplies such as the Floridian aquifer. South Walton Utility Company, Inc. is aware of these benefits and look forward to future implementation of reclaimed water.

South Walton Company, Inc. will continue to promote the use of reclaimed water for irrigation where it is economically feasible. South Walton Company, Inc. has recently completed a major reclaim water project at our Wastewater Treatment Facility. This upgrade will allow us to use reclaimed water for chlorination, irrigation, and wash down. South Walton Utility Company, Inc. currently uses reclaimed water at the following sites:

  • Wastewater Treatment plant for chlorination, irrigation, wash down.
  • Emerald Bay Golf Course for irrigation.
  • The Gardens Golf Course for irrigation.
  • Regatta Bay Golf Course for irrigation.
  • Emerald Shores Homeowners’ Association for irrigation.
  • Seascape Golf Course for irrigation.

Future projects for reclaimed water:

  • Reuse water line west on Scenic Gulf Drive.

Recommendation: Expand existing reclaim trunk system to accommodate all large commercial users.


The difference between the amount of water produced and the amount of water billed is known as “unaccounted for” water. Sources of unaccounted for water include un-metered water used for flushing lines, tank drainage for maintenance purposes, fire protection, main breaks, leaks, inaccurate meters, non-functioning meters, and theft. It is difficult to account for each of these losses individually and South Walton Utility Co., Inc. does not do so. Instead, South Walton Utility Co., Inc. makes a comparison of the amount of billed and the amount of water produced each month to acquire a total of unaccounted for water. Month-by-month percentages are somewhat misleading due to variations in meter reading dates and production reports. For this reason, it is important to evaluate the unaccounted for water status on a quarterly, if not yearly, basis in order to get an accurate picture of the unaccounted for water.

In 1957, the American Water Works Association Leak Detection Committee published a report (American Water Works Association [AWWA], 1957), which included the statement that unaccounted for water “may vary from 10 to 15 percent in a well-operated system where consumption is between 100 and 125 GPCD.” The 15 percent unaccounted for water goal was the accepted standard for many years in the water works industry. Given today’s high cost of water production and the many technological advances aimed at reducing water loss the AWWA now recommends that utilities establish a goal for unaccounted for water of less than 10 percent (AWWA, permit #S840010, dated April 25,1996).

Recommendations: Establish program to evaluate and replace water meters based on manufactures recommendation as to life span of meter — ; sonic monitoring of water lines for leaks; meter Fire Department water usage (non billable).


Various rate structures are available which may offer an incentive to consumers to conserve water throughout the year. By utilizing a conservation-oriented rate structure it conveys to the consumer the message that water is a valuable resource worth conserving. These rate structures can also focus rate increases on those users who have the highest discretionary use and thus the greatest ability to reduce their use. A conversion to a variable rate structure based on conservation only could create some dissatisfaction from the public because of a perception of unfairness or inequitable costs. If it is determined that this type of rate structure should be used, a concerted effort to gain public approval of the plan prior to implementation would be absolutely mandatory.

Rate Structures:

  • Seasonal Rate Structure: Incorporates two or more uniform volume charges during different seasons of the year. Generally, this would mean a higher rate is charged during the summer than during the winter. With this type of rate structure the conservation incentive would be focused on the season when water use and delivery cost is highest.
  • Inverted Block Rate Structure: Increasing water unit prices at higher levels of use. Under this structure water users with minimum use levels benefit and those users with high monthly use pay increasing higher rates thus providing a strong incentive for large users to reduce their use.
  • Excess-Use Rate Structure: Utilizing an excessive-use rate structure, base water use is defined as the average use during a certain non-peak period (calculated separately for each customer) and is charged at a basic rate. During a peak period or season, water use above some percentage of this base level is charged at the base rate plus an excess-use rate.
  • There are many variations to the excess-use rate structure. For example, a small additional charge would be assessed for moderate use in excess of the base use and a large amount for use that is much higher than average.

Recommendation: Consider implementing one of the suggested rate structures only after exhausting all other means of water conservation.