Dripping With Good News

1. Get water-focused. Park and recreation facilities–whether government operated or independent–must be aware of and get involved with local water issues to ensure this finite resource is protected. Some communities have developed pricing structures that reward water efficiency, and raise rates for customers who use water inefficiently. These strategies have proven to be effective in many cases.

2. Have a water czar. Water conservation needs leadership. Many facilities find that the best way to conserve water is to appoint an individual to head water-conserving efforts. Usually, this individual forms a small committee to help investigate how water is being used and where water conservation is possible.

3. Set water-saving goals. Park and recreation managers need to know how much water they are currently using. With this benchmark, managers must set goals of reducing water by a certain percentage in one year, five years, 10 years and so on.

4. Begin replacing toilets. Toilets are not only durable, but they are also relatively easy to repair. However, this can be a setback in water conservation. On an annual basis, older toilets can use as much as 12,000 gallons of water, while high-efficiency toilets use approximately one third of this number or less.

5. Begin replacing urinals. Because water-using urinals have flush handles that need repair occasionally, these fixtures are not as indestructible as toilets. However, older urinals can use as much as three gallons of water per flush, averaging 40,000 gallons of water per year, per unit. The state of Arizona encourages the use of low water-using or waterless urinal systems.

6. Reduce outdoor watering. In many facilities, the greatest volume of water is used for landscaping. A 2010 study by the Texas Water Development Board estimated that as much as half the water used to irrigate landscaping was wasted due to over-watering or run-off. In addition to making sure outdoor irrigation is used wisely, consider landscaping with vegetation that requires less water.

Talk About It

A final, but very important, way park and recreation facilities can reduce their water use is making sure staff as well as park users know water-conservation measures have been implemented. Conservation is contagious, and when establishments make it known that water usage is a top priority, users and staff will want to do their part. Further, this awareness opens the door for new ideas to save water and use it more efficiently.

Water conservation is a serious issue, but the cities and steps outlined in this article give us reasonable hope. Although there may be some challenges in the near future, we must all realize we play an important part in a larger group effort. Water is vital in all facets of society, especially where we live, work, and play. Follow the path that others are building, and let’s all fill a role in preserving a precious water supply.

A frequent speaker and author on water conservation issues, Klaus Reichardt is founder and managing partner of Waterless Co. LLC, Vista, Calif. Reichardt founded the company in 1991 with the goal to establish a new market segment in the plumbing-fixture industry with water conservation in mind.

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