The first step of water conservation planning relates to understanding what the water supply system has with respect to water sources, pipe, treatment facilities, etc. as a water management entity. Profiling your existing water system therefore requires that the water manager compile all the available information that can be used to characterize your existing water system with respect to:
The water delivery service area (including the population served, area served, number of connections, types and numbers of customers, etc.)
The existing water service facilities (including the miles and location of pipe, number and location of production wells, treatment facilities, storage facilities, etc.)
The existing water use by the customers (including current water delivery volumes, average and peak demand, pricing for and revenue from water sales, etc.)
Once these data are collected to establish the current “baseline conditions,” comparison of predicted demands and water supply options to the baseline needs can identify future infrastructure and water supply source requirements. The importance of water conservation can then be evaluated based on the cost of new water supplies and related infrastructure.
Taking inventory of the existing water supply system is the first step in the planning process. A water system profile can help water managers assess their present circumstances and design strategies to meet emerging needs. A good system profile is an important precursor to identifying future benefits of water conservation in supporting the short and long-term management of water resources for a planning entity.
Worksheet 1-1 (in Section 4) provides a relatively simple summary table that planners can use to compile and present key system characteristics. The system profile can be expanded to include additional narrative, tabular, or graphical information. Maps showing key components of the water supply system (and wastewater system if applicable) are valuable as a visual representation of the “baseline condition”.
Worksheet 1-2 provided in Section 4 helps to direct the water manager to answer questions about conditions that might affect the water system and its conservation planning effort (e.g., whether there are frequent water shortages, if significant growth is expected, etc.). These questions can be used as part of a general review of conditions affecting the supply of or the demand for water. For planning purposes, it is important to identify the conditions that most affect a particular system.
In addition to the summary worksheet, planners also should prepare a brief written discussion of the significant conditions affecting their systems. Particular attention can be paid to climate and water availability, but other factors affecting the system can be considered as well. This information can be used to help planners identify problems and opportunities throughout the planning process.
Worksheet 1-3 (in Section 4) may be used to assist water managers in describing their current water conservation activities and programs. For each conservation measure that has been implemented, water managers are asked to estimate the approximate annual water savings achieved, when implementation for the measure began, and whether continued implementation is planned. Colorado’s water conservation planning statute requires covered entities to include in their plans an estimate of the quantity (in acre-feet) or percentage of water saved through a previously implemented conservation plan. This worksheet may assist in the development of other pertinent information on current efforts and their effectiveness, as well.
Summarize the service and operating characteristics of the water system to establish current “baseline” conditions that will be used to evaluate and frame the importance and value of water conservation in managing future water resources.
Most water utilities and special districts maintain the data and information necessary to establish the water system profile. Much information may already have been compiled for a facility plan or for other purposes.