Water Efficiency Can Save the Southeast Over $700 million and New Water Supply for Over One Million Residents

For Immediate Release

American Rivers
Contact: 

Amy Kober, American Rivers, 206-898-3864
Jenny Hoffner, American Rivers, 404-373-3602 or 404-784-5771
Angela Dicianno, 202-345-7550 x3103 or 202-674-1578

Water Efficiency Can Save the Southeast Over $700 million and New Water Supply for Over One Million Residents

American Rivers releases report, Hidden Reservoir: Why Water Efficiency is the Best Solution for the Southeast

ATLANTA - The Southeast can save over $700 million and new water supply for
over one million residents by embracing water efficiency solutions like
stopping leaks and upgrading old buildings.  That's according to the
new report, Hidden Reservoir: Why Water Efficiency is the Best Solution
for the Southeast by American Rivers, the nation's leading river
conservation organization. The report outlines nine proven, timely and
cost-effective steps that local leaders can take to save water and help
ensure their rivers remain valuable community assets.

"Water efficiency is the 21st century solution to the
drought-stricken Southeast's water problems and must be the backbone of
the region's water supply strategy," said Rebecca Wodder, president of
American Rivers.

"In this time of economic uncertainty and shrinking budgets, water
efficiency is the answer for local leaders who want cost-effective,
proven, and immediate water supply solutions," Wodder said.

Water efficiency is far cheaper than getting supply through new dams -- dams cost up to 8500 times more than water efficiency. 

The report calculates the potential savings for four Southeast cities: 

Metro Atlanta, Georgia


  • Water efficiency measures could yield between 130 and 210 million gallons a day (MGD), a 21-33% savings.
  • Metro
    Atlanta could save between $300 million and $700 million by pursuing
    water efficiency to secure water supply as compared to building new
    dams.
  • Total water saved is more than an entire new Lake Lanier which provides 178 MGD to Metro Atlanta.
  • Metro Atlanta could eliminate the need for all four of its planned reservoirs (totaling 98 MGD) two times over.
  • This water savings could provide water for 790,000 to 1,280,000 new residents.  

Charlotte, North Carolina

  • Water efficiency measures could yield between 31 and 47 MGD, a 21-33% savings.
  • Charlotte
    could save between $75 million and $160 million by pursuing water
    efficiency to secure water supply as compared to building new dams.
  • This water savings could provide water for 135,000 to 205,240 new residents.  

Raleigh, North Carolina


  • Water efficiency measures could yield between 13 and 20 MGD, a 27-40% savings.
  • Raleigh
    could save between $30 million and $60 million by pursuing water
    efficiency to secure water supply as compared to building new dams.
  • This water savings could provide water for 80,000 to 120,000 new residents.  

Columbia, South Carolina

  • Water efficiency measures could yield between 18 and 27 MGD, a 18-27% savings.
  • Columbia
    could save between $45 million and $100 million by pursuing water
    efficiency to secure water supply as compared to building new dams.
  • This water savings could provide water for 75,000 to 120,000 new residents.   

The report outlines nine key policies and practices that local governments and utilities should adopt:

1. Stop leaks: Over six billion gallons of water are lost each day
in the U.S. due to aging water distribution systems. Leaks should be
fixed to stop this massive waste of water.

2. Price water
right: Water should be priced to cover costs, encourage efficiency and
ensure access to clean drinking water. We can do this, and still
provide water for low-income residents at a reduced rate.

3. Meter
all water users: Water meters should be installed in all new homes,
multi-family apartment buildings, and businesses so water users can
measure and monitor their consumption.

4. Retrofit all buildings: If all U.S. households installed
water-efficient fixtures and appliances, the country would save more
than 8.2 billion gallons per day enough water supply for all eight
Southeastern states or 20% of total US consumption. 

5.
Landscape to minimize water waste: On average, U.S. homes consume 30
percent of their water outdoors -- watering lawns, thirsty plants and
trees. By installing more innovative and efficient irrigation systems
and drought tolerant plants, communities would see 25% savings on
outdoor water use.

6. Increase public understanding:
Communities should equip individuals with information about their own
water use patterns, and educate the public about smart, simple water
efficiency solutions.

7. Build smart for the future: Homes,
businesses and neighborhoods should be designed to capture and reuse
stormwater, and to use gray water and rainwater for non-potable
purposes. Building codes and ordinances should be updated to support or
require the use of the most water efficiency technologies. 

8.
Return water to the river: To maintain healthy flows, a portion of
water efficiency "savings" should be returned to the river to serve as
a "savings account" for a not so rainy day.

9. Involve water
users in decisions: New opportunities for significant water savings can
be found when all the stakeholders are at the table. Involving water
users can increase efficiency.

Scientists predict that global
warming is bringing longer and more intense droughts to the Southeast
U.S. That, along with increasing populations, will place unprecedented
strain on the region's water supplies. Hidden Reservoir is
designed to help communities become more resilient in the face of these
challenges. By adopting water efficiency, communities can help ensure
that they have a clean, sustainable water supply and healthy rivers for
years to come.

"The Southeast is sitting on an enormous and forgotten water supply,
and it's hiding in plain sight. There is a ‘hidden reservoir' in our
laundry rooms, kitchens and bathrooms," said Wodder. "This is the
guarantee of water efficiency. By improving how we use and manage
water, we can tap a brand new source of supply." 

"Clean water is the lifeblood of the Southeast's economy,
environment and quality of life. We have a responsibility to manage our
water wisely for today's communities and future generations. It's time
to make water efficiency our first source of water supply."

Report available at www.AmericanRivers.org/WaterEfficiencyReport

 

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