The term “water conservation” can mean many things. In its broadest use, it encompasses any action that stretches water supplies. People often use the term water conservation to mean some or all of the following notions:
In the context of this Guidance Document, water conservation will be used broadly to mean any of the first four notions—water use efficiency, wise water use, system efficiency, and supply substitution—but not curtailment. While many people refer to water use restrictions during a drought as “water conservation,” the objective of long-term water conservation planning is not to curtail water use. Rather, it is to increase the productivity of water supply and use in order to satisfy water needs without compromising desired water services.
This document uses the term “water conservation” in the broad manner noted above, and uses “efficiency” in the narrower senses of water use efficiency and system efficiency.
The distinction between actions that directly save water and actions that encourage or require implementation of water-saving practices is critical to water conservation planning. For clarity, this document adopts the term “measures” to indicate actions that directly save water, and “programs” to indicate actions taken to encourage or require implementation of water-saving measures.