After six months of efforts to encourage voluntary water conservation in Anaheim resulted in just a 1% reduction in water use, the city Utility Department next month will begin an aggressive new water-saving program with possible financial rebates for residents.
The city hopes to cut water waste in the city by 10% in the next two years under the plan, saving the city up to $1 million, some of which may be passed on to water users.
“People start out with very good intentions, but the little good habits we build seem to go out the window when the extreme conditions come along,” said Ray Merchant, a spokesman for the city utility department.
Plans call for residents to install low-flush toilets and high-efficiency shower heads, which combined can save at least 30 gallons of water per person each day.
Incentives, such as a possible $75 to $100 rebate for installing the water-saving toilet, would also be offered to encourage residents’ participation.
The Utility Department also hopes to encourage businesses to participate by using recycled water when possible in commercial and industrial operations, and by reducing the amount of water used for landscaping.
Two new Utility Department staff members will be hired to administer the program, which will be jointly funded by the city, the Metropolitan Water District and the county Sanitation District of Orange County, with each entity paying $120,000 toward the plan.
Cutting water use could result in savings of up to $1 million in fees from the Metropolitan Water District and the county Sanitation District. However, the Metropolitan Water District can fine the city up to $550,000 if it fails to cut water use by 5%.
“Our hope is that these programs--though they will have short-term effects--will be long-term programs,” said Merchant. “We’re still not talking about mandatory conservation. But we’re talking about doing what we can now so that if it becomes mandatory, it won’t be severe.”