When Everyone Conserves, Everyone Saves: Conservation Keeps Rates Lower Over Time
Gilbert, Ariz.- Declining per-person water usage over the last two decades shows the adoption of water conservation as a way of life. Water-efficient plumbing fixtures, increasing prevalence of desert-adapted landscapes, smaller turf areas, and utility-led water conservation programs have all helped reduce per-person water demand.
Recently, Gilbert participated in a study that found water and wastewater rates are 5.8% lower today thanks to these conservation efforts. Although water rates will continue to rise—because it costs money to ensure a reliable supply source, to maintain and operate the system, and to make improvements such as replacing old lines—conservation helps keep water rates as low as possible. Using less water lengthens the lifespan of critical supply sources by serving more people with the same amount. This avoids the costs of securing new supplies, building, operating, and maintaining new infrastructure to deliver those supplies, and treating more water and wastewater.
The analysis found that Gilbert’s reduction in per-person demand helped the water and wastewater utilities avoid costs of $340 million in water and wastewater treatment expenses—expenses that would have cost the average resident $38 more annually.
In addition, system development fees (sometimes referred to as meter connection fees or tap fees) for new businesses and new homes are 45% lower today thanks to conservation—that’s a savings of $7,733 that the builder is not passing on to customers. Gilbert did not have to build as much additional system capacity to meet the demands of new development. Existing infrastructure capacity was able to meet demand as more efficient development came online, thus making it more affordable for new development to tie into Gilbert's water and wastewater systems.
So, the next time you look at your Gilbert utility bill, know that you benefit when you use only what you need. When everyone conserves, everyone saves—both water and money.