This is intended as your work sheet for accomplishing the water audit of your facilities and grounds. This will be the basis of your Water Conservation Plan, one of the requirements for exemption eligibility. We know you may have to pace yourself in implementing your plan. The financial cost, along with time and skills required will be different for different institutions. The development and execution of a realistic plan is the key here. Please go through these sections methodically. They have been developed by a partnership of churches and the Department of Water Management, based on surveys of best practices found around the country.
Please feel free to contact us with questions, challenges, or consultation. We may have resources available to you, private sector partnerships to bring costs down, and experts on hand to discuss alternatives and creative work-around strategies.
First, consider separately the buildings you will be auditing for water use. The purpose of an audit is to identify where water may be wasted, or where savings can be realized. This involves possible leaks (e.g. running toilets; invisible pipe leaks), as well as staff practices and outside watering of lawns and athletic fields.
The buildings involved could be office buildings, churches, synagogues, temples, mosques, residences, schools, shelters, soup kitchens, clinics and medical facilities, and related structures, such as garages, plants, etc. In these places you will almost certainly have rest rooms, possibly showers and bath rooms, kitchens, laundries, heating and cooling systems, or water cooled equipment.
Outside water use can include landscaping, irrigation, vehicle washing and cooling towers.
As for the “non-potable” water, you may be concerned about basement flooding and interested in rain gardens, detention basins, filter strips, permeable paving, and other strategies to reduce the risk of basement flooding.
When deciding where to start, the potable water (def: purified drinking water) may offer the best opportunities, since it determines the amount of your water bill each cycle. The more water you save, the lower your bill will be. It also offers some of the easiest steps for implementing your Water Conservation Plan, since the equipment and its installation are relatively inexpensive and easily done.
Begin with a walk through. If you see water on the floor or walls, check your water meter (a legal requirement). If it is running continuously, you are using (and paying for) water. It’s probably a leak. You can also look at the fixtures (e.g. toilets and faucets). If there is a leak, you can either see it directly or test a toilet with dye in the water tank to see if it is running into the bowl.
If your fixtures all pass muster, you can look for leaks in your plumbing and piping systems. The need for this would be indicated by the continuously running meter. But—since you are now dealing with plumbing—you will want to get a licensed, bonded plumber to do some acoustic monitoring—a specialized skill you want a professional undertaking. But, since you know it’s needed, it’s well worth the cost (if you don’t have a plumber in your community who will step forward.) The Department of Water Management can also assist with a history of water usage stretching back two years.
Please remember that your sewer exemption ends at $500 every six months. When you pass that threshold the bill is real and must be paid. The sewer bill is calculated as a percentage of the water bill, so a leak in your plumbing—or wasted water in general—is a real problem.