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Water Conservation

Water is necessary for the survival of everything on the planet

Even though 70% the earth’s surface is covered by water, less than one percent is available for human use. As the population and demand on freshwater resources increase the supply remains constant.

Each year, Californians consume 2 million more acre-feet of ground water than is recharged naturally. By the year 2030 the population of California and subsequent water use is expected to increase 37%. Our state is also at higher risk for drought than many other areas of the country, and has experienced an extended drought in the recent past. Water conservation, even in high rain years, should be a priority for all Californians.

The first step in water conservation1 is implementing a water management plan:

  • Obtain a basic water audit, taking into account existing water use and facility operations, as well as future projections.
  • Make low-cost improvements such as repairing leaky faucets and pipes.
  • Determine whether fixture replacements are needed. Identify upgrades with the shortest payback period. Replacing old plumbing fixtures and installing other water saving devices can save huge quantities of water.
  • Develop a water management plan, setting priorities for changes to be made based on current water use, occupant needs, and life-cycle cost analysis.
  • Once the plan is implemented check water bills to verify consumption reduction as the program evolves.
  • Continue to monitor water usage to ensure that savings are occurring.

Improvements that save Water

High efficiency toilets and urinals – Since toilets account for almost half of a typical building’s water consumption, replacing old inefficient toilets with new ultra low flow (ULF) models can reduce water consumption nearly 30 percent. Recent advancements have allowed the new ULF toilets, requiring 1.6 gallons per flush; and low-flow and waterless urinals to deliver superior performance and water efficiency.

Low-flow shower heads that deliver 2.5 gallons per minute at 80 psi can save as much as 4.5 gallons per minute. They typically have narrower spray jets and a greater mix of air and water than conventional showerheads, enabling them to provide what feels like a full-volume shower while using far less water.

Faucets are designed to provide different flow rates, depending on their location. Ideally, lavatory faucets should deliver 0.5 gallons per minute (gpm) at 60 psi; while kitchen faucets should deliver 2.2 gpm at 60 psi. Metered-valve faucets, electronic faucet controls, and kitchen faucet foot controls offer excellent opportunities to reduce water consumption. Aerators that mix air into the water stream can be utilized in many commercial buildings but are prohibited in health facilities.

Outdoor Water Efficiency Measures – Depending on the amount of landscaping surrounding your building, a high percentage of water waste occurs outdoors from poorly programmed irrigation timers, inefficient sprinklers, broken pipes, and non-native thirsty plants. To reduce outdoor water use, consider weather-based irrigation controllers, soil moisture sensors, rainwater cisterns, gray water recycling systems, and replacement of thirsty plants and turf areas with native drought-tolerant plants.

Replace Conventional Landscaping with pavers. It is estimated that 30-60% of household water consumption is devoted to outdoor use. As the look and feel of synthetic grass becomes more realistic, more and more homeowners are choosing it over traditional lawns, and enjoying the benefits of easy maintenance and reduced water costs. Replacing areas of traditional lawn with pavers is also a maintenance free way to save water.

Outdoor water saving tips:

  • Water landscape between midnight and 10 a.m.
  • Turn off sprinklers on windy and rainy days and during the rainy season
  • Inspect systems regularly for clogged spray heads, leaks and broken valves
  • Group plants according to their water needs

1 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

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The mPOWER program has funded more than $101 million in energy efficiency and water conservation improvements since its creation in 2010. It served its mission well to save money, conserve energy and create jobs. Unfortunately, recent legislative, regulatory, and market changes have reduced the demand for this type of financing option. Solar and other energy efficiency projects continue to be installed, but other financing options are being used. After serious consideration, the Pioneer Board determined winding down and ending the program was the appropriate next step.

On June 17, 2021 the Pioneer Community Energy Board voted to wind down the mPOWER program.

As of August 31, 2021, the mPOWER program is no longer accepting applications for financing. While the program is closed to new applications, customers will still be able to make payoffs and paydowns, and they will continue to have access to customer service support. Applications received before August 31, 2021, will still be processed.

It has been a honor and pleasure serving all of the mPOWER communities.