A Residential Water Conservation Pilot Program was discussed during the Idaho Falls City Council Work Session yesterday afternoon. The pilot program, if approved by City Council, will begin later this year.
In 2015, the Idaho Falls Water Division held a public meeting, followed by a 14-day public comment period to discuss and get feedback about a Water Facility Plan. Former city council members then approved the plan. The plan provides key water system information, evaluations and recommendations that help guide decision-making for city leadership and staff regarding growth and sustainability of the water system. Both commercial and residential water conservation measures were recommended in that plan.
The Residential Water Conservation Pilot Program is designed to help shape the future of Idaho Falls residential water use while conserving Idaho’s most valuable resource. The program will also give residents access to real-time monitoring through a mobile app so they can monitor their own water consumption and receive alerts if there are issues.
“For example, if an Idaho Falls resident is in Arizona for the winter and a pipe bursts at their home here in Idaho Falls, the system will send them an alert notifying them that there is an issue,” explains Idaho Falls Water Division Superintendent, Dave Richards. “The new system makes water conservation easier for the user by literally putting it in the palm of their hand,” adds Richards.
By monitoring water usage in various size homes and properties over the next two years, the Water Division will gain a better understanding of how water is used in households and which water fixture replacements provide the maximum benefit in our area. The Division will also gain critical data needed to plan for the city’s future growth and needs.
“We have been monitoring some commercial property water use for up to sixty years, but this program will give us the ability to monitor residential property so that we can make more data-driven decisions in the future. The program is similar to energy efficiency programs dating back to the 1970’s and 80’s,” adds Richards.
If the program is approved by City Council, the Water Division will contact 100 qualifying homeowners to discuss the program. They are seeking a maximum of 100 homes of varying characteristics (lot sizes, age of home, method of landscape watering, etc.). The Division will then install a water meter within the existing meter pit on the property of those randomly selected.
“The pilot program will not impact their water bill, and residents will continue to be billed on a non-metered basis,” explains Richards.
Water usage will be monitored for one year prior to installing new fixtures. After that, the Division will schedule a tour of each of the 100 homes to help the resident identify a list of inefficient water fixtures (toilets, faucets, shower heads, washers, sprinkler times, etc.) that qualify for the replacement program.
The resident will select and purchase replacement fixtures from the approved list of WaterSense certified fixtures. The resident will select a company to complete the installation of the replacement fixtures from an approved list of licensed and bonded plumbers.
The City of Idaho Falls will reimburse up to a maximum of $500 (approximately five fixtures) per household. The city will also reimburse the homeowner up to a maximum of $500 per household for the installation cost of a plumber.
Water usage will be monitored for a second year. This monitoring period also will not impact the homeowner’s water bill. During this period, the Water Division will compare water usage patterns with those of the previous year before the fixtures were replaced. This will help determine which fixtures promote the best conservation potential for a future water fixture rebate program.
Idaho Falls City Council will vote on the program at the regular City Council meeting at a later date.
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Media Contact: Public Information Officer, Kerry Hammon, (208) 612-8122 or [email protected].