Water demand management tools

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Beacon’s water research looked at how to reduce demand - and therefore council supply - of reticulated water.  Demand management is the first and easiest step for councils to take towards sustainable urban water management and can have a significant impact on the bottom line.

Water demand management is about using centralised reticulated water efficiently by reducing demand.  Demand management measures aim to minimise either the overall or peak demand for water (or energy or other resource).  Councils taking a demand management approach can consider a range of possible interventions:

  • Maintenance of the water system to prevent leakage
  • Using pricing, tariffs, and incentives/rebates to encourage reduced use
  • Promoting water efficient technology-rainwater tanks, wastewater reuse, appliances and plumbing fixtures
  • Using promotional materials and education programmes to educate householders
  • Regulating to require lower water use

Slowing the Flow

Slowing the Flow: A Demand Management Framework is a guide to the development of water demand management strategies and policies for all those working in reticulated water supply. It helps councils work through the demand management options and guides a process for decision making.


The framework recognises that local contexts such as demographics, climate and political environment will affect which demand management interventions are best adopted.  It also recognises that, while any strategy to reduce water demand must include education and awareness-raising, other forms of policy including supportive regulation or economic instruments are required to have a significant impact.

Valuing a demand management approach

Beacon’s research has also developed a comprehensive approach to valuing council implementation of water demand management. 

A case study of Tauranga City Council’s demand management measures showed that the Council delayed the implementation of the next major water supply infrastructure by approximately 10 years with a net benefit to the community of $53.3 million in 2009 terms.