Water demand management for councils

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

A framework to develop demand management strategies

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.

Valuing demand management

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.

Energy component of reticulated water

Beacon also considered the relationship between treating and supplying reticulated water and the energy used in those processes.

The research highlighted the operational energy component of urban water systems, recognising that this factor should be given more weight in the design of reticulated water systems as energy costs rise. A water demand management approach has benefits in a reduction of both water and energy costs.

What else is in our knowledge base?
  • Demand management through water retrofit projects
  • Sustainability retrofit options: Theoretical cost benefit analysis
  • Water efficiency: Report on existing technologies in New Zealand