With the abundant rainfall we have in the Pacific Northwest, it is sometimes difficult to understand why we need to conserve water. As our communities have grown, our water needs have also grown. Water conservation is something that we should all practice. Except for the air we breathe, water is the single most important element of our lives. It is too precious to waste. Regardless of the availability of water now and in the future, we must get the most for our current supply. Not only is conservation the smart thing to do, it’s the right thing to do from a natural resource perspective.
Clackamas River Water Providers Conservation Efforts
Water conservation efforts in the Clackamas Basin began in the early 1990’s when Clackamas River public water providers joined with other regional water providers to make up what is now called the Regional Water Providers Consortium later to become the Consortium Conservation Committee (CCC).. The goal of regional conservation efforts has been to work together to plan and implement regional programs to reduce summer peak water use, while promoting a consistent regional conservation message. Clackamas River Water Provider members continue to be apart of the Regional Water Providers Consortium.
Local conservation efforts expanded in 2007 when the Clackamas River Water Providers (CRWP) adopted the conservation program that was being implemented by South Fork Water Board and expanded it to cover most of the CRWP members. The CRWP currently provides water conservation programs and services to the following members: the City of Estacada, the City of Gladstone, Oak Lodge Water District, South Fork Water Board, and Sunrise Water Authority. Clackamas River Water and the City of Lake Oswego have opted not participate in the CRWP Conservation Program.
Municipal Water Management and Conservation Plans (WMCP) provide a process for municipal water supplies to develop plans to meet future water needs. All CRWP members are required to develop these Plans as part of their water right permit conditions. These Plans are used to demonstrate our communities´ needs for increased diversions of water under their water permits as our communities and water demands grow. The Plans explain how we will manage and conserve water supplies and are intended to represent a pro-active evaluation of conservation measures that we can undertake.
All water providers must implement the following conservation measures:
- Conduct annual water system audits.
- Full metering of the water system.
- Meter testing and maintenance programs.
- A rate structure based, at least in part, on the quantity of water metered.
- Leak detection programs.
- Public education programs focused on efficient water use and low water use landscaping.
In addition, many water providers are required to implement technical and financial assistance programs such as rebate programs, where the cost of purchasing water-efficient fixtures or equipment are partially offset.
The CRWP implements a Public Outreach and Education Program as well as a Conservation Rebate Program on behalf of its members to encourage efficient water use and meet WMCP requirements. These programs have a number of individual programs or components that provide awareness, information, motivation and action for efficient indoor and outdoor water use practices.
Water conservation is an important tool in meeting the water supply needs of our communities and can help us reduce the cost of developing new water supplies. It also allows us to leave more water in the rivers for fish and recreation.