We joined the US Conference of Mayors last week to promote our 2013 Report Card, and being in sunny, dry Las Vegas, water was top of mind for many of the mayors in attendance. Besides being confident that their water is the best tasting in the nation, mayors at the U.S. Conference of Mayors Water Council voiced concern at the lack of response to what they see as trends changing the U.S. entire approach to water from policy to practice. Water resources and efficient management were called out as emerging issues that every city should be focusing on.
The City of Irving, Texas’ mayor highlighted their city’s ongoing struggle to handle population growth with drought conditions and noted the recent Supreme Court case pitting Texas vs Oklahoma on water rights that will force mayors to become more focused in how to make the most of their resources in the most sustainable manner possible.
However Texas isn’t the only place to see drought conditions or limitations on available water sources , mayors from Iowa and others in the midwest also spoke up regarding their long-term struggle with these issues. So how are they making the most of their resources in the most sustainable manner possible?
Reuse for grounds- Parks, recreation facilities, and lawns can be set up to use rainwater or greywater rather than sending this back into the water system for treatment.
Treat water differently- adding new technology and harnessing nature to handle treatment in an environmentally conscious way or look to R&D to find new processes and methods like changing the order of the processing of sludge so it doesn’t require as many chemicals.
Implement technology with competition- Shifting water meters from manual reads to automated reads and using one platform to get several vendors to compete for work combines both technology and competition to meet needs and curb costs. For one city, this saved about $6M!
Fix the leaks- almost 30% to 40% of water is lost in many systems and new pressure control valves and other monitoring systems can help bring this number down and save cities money on both operations and lost product.