3 Paths to Water Conservation

Cities have used a variety of financial incentives to encourage responsible use of water.

What Happened?

Prolonged drought conditions are prompting cities to impose water conservation measures including incentive programs to encourage more responsible use of resources. The water conservation incentive programs can apply to both residents and commercial buildings.


The Marin Municipal Water District in California has introduced a new type of rebate plan to save water amid drought conditions. The water district is offering rebates up to $50 each for residents who purchase:
  • Pool covers
  • Hot water recirculating systems
  • Organic mulch
  • Laundry-to-landscape graywater system components
  • Rain barrels

The Marin water district believes rebate programs, coupled with water conservation regulations, have helped keep the local reservoirs at 95 percent of the average levels this time of year. The new rebate program builds off an existing rebate available for the purchase of high-efficiency toilets, washing machines and smart irrigation controllers.


Austin Water offers customers rebates and incentives to engage in water conservation practices. The water provider offers financial incentives to residential customers for a variety of purchases including:
  • Smart irrigation technology
  • High-efficiency showerheads and faucet aerators
  • Pressure regulating valves
  • Rainwater harvesting
  • Irrigation system evaluations

The water provider also incentivizes local businesses to cut wasteful water use with several programs including:

  • ICI Audit Rebate: Rebate of 75 percent of the costs up to $5,000 for an independent water efficiency audit of an industrial, commercial or institutional facility
  • 3C Business Challenge: Provides information to businesses on how to reduce water use
  • Bucks for Business: Offers rebates up to $100,000 for equipment and process upgrades that save water and exceed city water efficiency requirements
  • Commercial Kitchens Rebate: Rebates for commercial and institutional customers that replace food service equipment with high-efficiency models

Santa Rosa

The city of Santa Rosa has many water conservation residential rebate programs available such as:
  • Green Exchange Rebate Program: Customers can receive rebates for removal of turf or upgrades to water conserving irrigation hardware. The rebate has been updated to offer $1 per square foot.
  • Water-Use Efficiency Check-Up: A free on-site evaluation of residents’ indoor and outdoor water use as well as a report of findings and recommendations on how to reduce consumption.

Because The EPA Says So

According to the Environmental Protection Agency , many people do not realize the correlation between water use and energy. About 8 percent of U.S. energy demand is directed at treating, pumping and heating water – or the equivalent of the electricity it takes to power more than 5 million homes for an entire year.

When communities proactively implement programs to reduce water use, residents enjoy lower water and energy bills and greenhouse gas emissions are cut. Furthermore:

  • If 1 percent of American homes upgraded to a WaterSense labeled toilet, the country would save more than 38 million kilowatt-hours of electricity – which could power 43,000 households each month.
  • If 1 out of every 100 American homes added water-efficient fixtures, 100 million kilowatt hours of electricity could be saved annually – which would cut 80,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
  • If 20 percent of U.S. homes used high-efficiency washing machines, 285 billion BTUs could be saved annually across the country – which is enough to meet the energy needs of more than 1 million homes.

The EPA has provided cities, residents and businesses with water conservation guidelines to help establish efficient policies for short and long-term savings.

Rebates that Work

Gov1 has followed the implementation of many rebate programs designed to drum up economic growth and more efficient business practices .

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