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The Solution to Overloaded Water Infrastructure? Urban Conservation
Despite decades of under-investing, cities and suburbs are still held responsible for billions of dollars towards maintaining and improving infrastructure in compliance with the Clean Water Act. For many municipalities, it is a balancing game between keeping up with increasing water demand due to growing populations, and maintaining water supply through sewage treatment and stormwater controls. With looming climate change and extreme weather conditions, agencies are faced with an immense challenge.
A new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council advances treatments to lower water demand through various programs and policies, which in turn would "also have the potential to improve efficiency of certain wastewater treatment processes at existing facilities, [and yield] lower operating costs and extended equipment replacement periods."
A few methods are outlined in the report, such as "promoting or mandating the use of water efficient fixtures, appliances, and landscapes, as well as graywater and blackwater reuse systems", as well as "improved metering, volumetric billing, and conservation pricing, for drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater." Another suggestion is to install cisterns and rain barrel through incentives or rebates to capture rainwater and limit discharge of stormwater run off.
The report outlines best practices from different municipalities, and recommends policy changes/ resources cities and suburbs can take advantage of to uphold Clean Water Act regulations.