Fines, fees, penalties and lashings oh my!

After three decades of providing inexpensive water, communities throughout the state are wondering why customers wont slow down on water use when asked, or required by their water utility.  “We don’t have a lawn, so we just do not know what to do” says the average customer.   When you call the utility to inquire how to cut back 30%, you most likely will be read a prepared statement which was written in 1977 and dusted off just for this drought occassion.  “Turn the water off when you brush your teeth, do full loads of laundry, when its yellow……..”.

As I was attending a meeting on March 11, 2014 to see what innovative strategies and grant funds were being deployed to deal with this drought, the following articles were being distributed in local communities.

Santa Cruz to issue fines to force residential customers to slow down on water use.

Communities struggle with implementing drought restrictions.

To be successful in reducing water consumption this year, after allowing customers to use water as they wish for decades, we must use different tactics.  How about a text that your sprinklers appear to have malfunctioned?  Or 50% of the cost of a grey water reuse system paid by a state grant?   Or a graph of your water usage round-the-clock and a report of options which you can implement to reduce your consumption by 30% and your landscaping not die?  Or a rebate for removing sod this year and replacing it in the future with drought tolerant plants?

We provide the solutions.  goin’ viral with Droughtresponse!

Example of Customer Friendly Droughtresponse!

Sacramento wants to pay you to rip out your water-guzzling lawn. The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to launch a “cash for grass” program that will provide rebates to homeowners who replace their grass lawns with drought-tolerant landscaping. The city is considering a payment of $.50 per square foot removed. grass removal Neighboring cities such as Roseville have had long existing grass buy back programs and currently pay $1 per square foot!    Call your utility or governing official today and encourage them to adopt such a program.   Droughtresponse! offers a grant writing service for utilities, and will help administer aspects of the program as well if necessary.

Solutions with Drought Grant Funding

Expensive Public Infrastructure

Of course drought grant funding can be used to fund the cost of emergency infrastructure, water purchases and audits of special district water usage; leak reduction programs, etc.  For every piece of emergency infrastructure added, there is ongoing costs to maintain that asset for use during the next drought.  Maybe you will have to replace that emergency pump before you ever use it again…30 years from now.

End user water conservation and water use efficiency programs produce predictable water use (and sewer discharge) reduction results which last for the long term.   You achieve your district’s water conservation goals, your customer saves money, and you now have capacity in your system available, when you need it, to support your local economy!

Customer Friendly Results

Your agency can receive grant funds to help offset the cost of CUSTOMER water conservation efforts and encourage immediate customer action to reduce water use in your community!!

If you are a special district that has parks, soccer or baseball fields, could you use an updated irrigation system or one that integrates with your technology so that you can shut down the irrigation system from your central office or even iphone?  Or turn the irrigation system off for troubleshooting via laptop when you receive a text that the new drip system you installed  has likely blown apart?  Money saving, efficient, flexible, community friendly solutions, and paid for with state grants.  

How would it feel when you are answering the district phone or meeting a water customer in the supermarket, and they complain to you about having to conserve water and your adoption of fines and penalty fees; and you can answer “how about if you upgrade your irrigation system to a Smart Controller and submit the invoice to us, and we will reimburse you up to 50% of the cost?” or perhaps “install a greywater or rainwater system to keep your garden alive and we will cover part of the cost of its installation and you will never have to buy garden water again?”  Even better yet: “our District will pay YOU to remove your lawn, and you will save hundreds of dollars per month in irrigation costs?”

Proactive Solutions!

All of these responses are possible if you develop and deliver a proactive approach to water conservation.  Although there are many great program models out there to copy, the program you develop and fund must be based programs that will be effective in your area, are needed by your customers, and take into consideration your district’s long term water supply and needs.

As public agencies, we are in tune with state and federal grants and their use to fund public infrastructure projects.  We are just not used to them being available to pay for improvements on our customer’s property.  Water Conservation grants are different; and they help your customers meet water conservation mandates and save our state’s most precious natural resource…Water!

State Legislature approves drought funding!

On Friday, February 28, 2014, the Legislature overwhelmingly approved SB 103 and SB 104 which will provide $687 million in funding for drought relief statewide.

We will be closely monitoring the allocation of these funds and the development of their funding guidelines, and will provide regular updates on this site to assist you in securing the funding necessary to fully implement you water demand response and water conservation programs.   

Droughtresponse! develops the custom programs, initiatives and strategies necessary for a guaranteed reduction in end user water consumption, to better manage water demand and save customers’ money.

Check back often!!