Water efficiency

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Water efficiency is reducing water wastage by measuring the amount of water required for a particular purpose and the amount of water used or delivered. [1] Water efficiency differs from water conservation in that it focuses on reducing waste, not restricting use. [2] Solutions for water efficiency focus not only on reducing the amount of potable water used, but also on reducing the use of non-potable water where appropriate (i.e. flushing toilet, watering landscape, etc.). [3] It also emphasises the influence consumers can have in water efficiency by making small behavioural changes to reduce water wastage and by choosing more water efficient products.


Examples of water efficient steps includes fixing leaking taps, taking showers rather than baths, installing displacements devices inside toilet cisterns, males using urinals rather than toilet stalls, and using dishwashers and washing machines with full loads. These are things that fall under the definition of water efficiency, as their purpose is to obtain the desired result or level of service with the least necessary water. [1]


According to the Second UN World Water Development Report, if present levels of consumption continue, two-thirds of the global population will live in areas of water stress by 2025. [4] Increasing human demand for water coupled with the effects of climate change mean that the future of our water supply is not secure. As of now, 2.6 billion people do not have safe drinking water. Added to this, are the changes in climate, population growth and lifestyles. The changes in human lifestyle and activities require more water per capita. This tightens the competition for water amongst agricultural, industrial, and human consumption. [5]


In most countries, people have recognized this growing water scarcity problem. Water efficiency, while not yet a major priority in the agendas of governments, has been a growing concern. Global organizations like the World Water Council, [5] the International Water Management Institute, [6] and UNESCO [7] have been promoting water efficiency alongside water conservation.

The Alliance for Water Efficiency, Waterwise, the California Urban Water Conservation Council, and Smart WaterMark in Australia, and the WaterBucket in Canada are some non-governmental organizations that promote or support water efficiency at national and regional levels.

Governmental organisations such as Environment Canada, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Environment Agency in the United Kingdom, the Department of the Environment and Water Resources in Australia, among others, have recognized and created policies and strategies to raise water efficiency awareness. US EPA created its WaterSense program to encourage water efficiency in the United States through the use of a special label on consumer products.

The People's Republic of China has put forward a 5-year plan (2010-2015) at a cost of Y500 billion ($78.1 billion) to Y600 billion ($93.7 billion) to upgrade most of the 4,000 water plants in China. The government hopes these steps will help to better conserve water and meet demands. [8]

The Indian state of Haryana, has implemented State Rural Water Policy 2012; under this policy individual household metered connections would be provided to 50% of the rural population by 2017, to stop water wastage in villages. [9]

A part of the industry sector has also recognised the benefits of water efficiency. Such journals as the Water Efficiency Journal [10] from the US, Water Efficient Solutions Journal [11] and Water Energy and Environment [12] Magazine from the UK, all mainly directed towards the industrial and professional sectors, attest to the growing consciousness of the need to develop more water efficient solutions.

Water efficient solutions


Here are some simple ways to be more water efficient at home

Consumers can also voluntarily or with utility or government incentives or mandates purchase water-efficient appliances, such as low-flush toilets and front-loading washers. Greywater can be recycled for toilet flushing or garden use.


According to Savewater!, these are solutions useful to manufacturers: [13]

Waterless products

  • Using waterless car wash products to wash cars, boats, motorcycles and bicycles. This could save up to 150 gallons of water per wash.


The US EPA, offer some water saving tips for communities and utilities: [14]

Utilities can also modify their billing software to track customers who have taken advantage of various utility sponsored water conservation initiatives (toilet rebates, irrigation rebates, etc.) to see which initiatives provide the greatest water savings for the least cost.

Water policies and impact assessments

Environmental policies and the difference usages of models that are generated by these enforcements can have significant impacts on the society. Hence, improving policies regarding environmental justice issues often require local government's decision making, public awareness, and significant amount of scientific tools. Furthermore, it is important to understand that positively impacting policy decisions require more than good intentions, and they necessitate analysis of risk-related information along with consideration of economic issues, ethical and moral principles, legal precedents, political realities, cultural beliefs, societal values, and bureaucratic impediments. [15] Also, ensuring that the rights of people regardless of their age, race, and backgrounds are being protected should not be neglected according to "The Role of Cumulative risk Assessment in Decisions about Environmental Justice." Also, the article suggests that if a policy protects the natural environment but negatively affects those who in the reach of the enforcement of the policy, that policy is subjected to revaluation. [15] Researchers suggests racial and socioeconomic disparities in exposure to environmental hazards describing the demographic composition of areas and their proximity to hazardous sites. [16] Then, any improvements of a social policy and models that are generated by these improvements should reflect the policy-makers' and researchers' environmental justice beliefs. Therefore, researches and social changes should examine the promises and pitfalls associated with the environmental justice struggles, explore implications of proposed solutions, and recognize the fact that tools necessary to sufficiently carry preceding requirements are yet underdeveloped. [17]

Water policies and impact assessments with different cases


A) Reef Plan (Australia)

The Reef Plan started as an attempt to come up with a new ways to create models that integrate environmental, economical, and social consequences. [18] Pre-existing Australian water policies were often criticizes previous models for focusing too much on investment prioritization and economic dimensions when it came to policy impact assessment. However, the policy makers and researchers in Australia now suggest that "sustainability focused policy requires multi-dimensional indicators" that combine different disciplines. [18] The Reef Plan allows the policy makers to identify issues relating to Reef water quality and implement management strategies and actions to conserve and rehabilitate areas such as riparian zones and wetlands. [19] With the Reef Plan, Nine strategies were implemented in the Great Barrier Reef region. They include self-management approaches, education and extension, economic incentives, planning for natural resources management and land use, regulatory frameworks, research and information sharing, partnership, priorities and targets, and monitoring and evaluation. [18] And such improvements invoked benefits such as:

  1. more comprehensive picture of the policy impacts. New models projected possible outcomes of different simulation of the proposed policies under various circumstances. In addition, they provided the optimal decisions to be made regarding each outcome through the usage of what is known as computable general equilibrium (CGE) which “integrate dynamics on a catchment scale” [18] [19]
  2. helping the aggregation of both economics aspects of water and non-monetary elements of water usage. [18] [19]
  3. acknowledging the fact that farm production should depend on the global dynamics [18] [19]

B) Conserved Water Statutes(United States)

Conserved Water Statutes are state policies that were enacted by California, Montana, Washington, and Oregon to conserve water and allocated water resources to meet the needs of increasing demand for water in the dry lands where irrigation is or was occurring. Conserved Water Statutes helps the states to dismiss the disincentives to conserve water and can do so without damaging pre-existing water rights. [20] Because any extra amount of water after applying water to a beneficiaries of the pre-existing water policies does not belong to the appropriators, such a condition creates an incentive to use as much water as possible rather than saving. [20] [21] This obviously causes costs of irrigation to be greater than the optimal amount which makes the policy very inefficient. However, by enacting Conserved Water Statutes, state legislatures are able to address the disincentives to save water. [20] The policy allows the appropriators to have rights over the surplus water and enforces them to verify their water savings by the water resources department. [20] Out of the four states that adapted the Conserved Water Statutes, Oregon is often renowned to be the most successful. [20] According to "How Expanding The Productivity of Water Rights Could Lessen Our Water Woes," Oregon’s Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD) has been a success because a high percentage of submitted applications submitted, and the OWRD serves as a good intermediaries that help appropriators to conserve water. OWRD’s programs are not only a success because its effectiveness but also because of their efforts to improve the workers’ working conditions. [20] [21] According to OWRD's website, the state policies regarding the water rights are divided into Cultural Competency, Traditional Health Worker, Coordinated Care Organizations, and Race, Ethnicity and Language Data Collection. [21]

C) Water pollution in Malaysia

In Malaysia, the citizens have been experiencing harms from water pollutants in the river that have been accumulating over decades due to fast growing urbanization and industrialization. [22] The planners of Malaysia have been trying to coming up with models that indicate the amount of pollutants has grown over time as cities became more industrialized and how these chemicals are distributed in various regions with the usage of econometrics and various scientific tools. [22] Such an attempt is encourages in-depth researches because sources should be able to analyzed numerically and give economic evaluations while also evaluating the environment. [23] With abundance of evidences provided by models which reveal the inadequacy of current policies, the Malaysian decisions-makers now recognize that appropriate treatments are necessary in regions that are industrialized to protect the residents from water pollutants. [22] [24] As a result, the government seeks to increase public awareness and provide affordable water services to residents by year 2020. [24]

Benefits of impact assessments

Successful policies and assessments integrate environmental, economical, and social consequences which provides better models and potential future improvements of the policies. Understanding the importance of water policies and impact assessments is a crucial part of both water justice and environmental justice issues. Not only does it help to protect the quality of water but also the quality of living for humans who are directly affected by the environment.

In addition, successful policies goes beyond water issues. Beneficial policies that are intended to benefit the general public touches upon subjects such as transportation and other environmental policies that may have significant impact on the surrounding environment. [25] Instead of mere cost-benefit analysis, decisions are made so that they account for the priorities of the people. [25]

Notable benefits of impact assessments is as follows:

See also

Related Research Articles

An autonomous building is a building designed to be operated independently from infrastructural support services such as the electric power grid, gas grid, municipal water systems, sewage treatment systems, storm drains, communication services, and in some cases, public roads.

Sustainable living describes a lifestyle that attempts to reduce an individual's or society's use of the Earth's natural resources, and one's personal resources. It is often called as "earth harmony living" or "net zero living". Its practitioners often attempt to reduce their ecological footprint by altering their methods of transportation, energy consumption, and/or diet. Its proponents aim to conduct their lives in ways that are consistent with sustainability, naturally balanced, and respectful of humanity's symbiotic relationship with the Earth's natural ecology. The practice and general philosophy of ecological living closely follows the overall principles of sustainable development.

Water conservation Policies and sustainable development of water conservation.

Water conservation day is celebrated on 22nd of March. Water conservation includes all the policies, strategies and activities to sustainably manage the natural resource of fresh water, to protect the hydrosphere, and to meet the current and future human demand. Population, household size and growth and affluence all affect how much water is used. Factors such as climate change have increased pressures on natural water resources especially in manufacturing and agricultural irrigation. Many countries have already implemented policies aimed at water conservation, with much success.

Energy conservation reduction in energy usage

Energy conservation is the effort made to reduce the consumption of energy by using less of an energy service. This can be achieved either by using energy more efficiently or by reducing the amount of service used. Energy conservation is a part of the concept of Eco-sufficiency. Energy conservation reduces the need for energy services and can result in increased environmental quality, national security, personal financial security and higher savings. It is at the top of the sustainable energy hierarchy. It also lowers energy costs by preventing future resource depletion.

Electric power systems consist of generation plants of different energy sources, transmission networks, and distribution lines. Each of these components can have environmental impacts at multiple stages of their development and use including in their construction, during the generation of electricity, and in their decommissioning and disposal. We can split these impacts into operational impacts and construction impacts. This page looks exclusively at the operational environmental impact of electricity generation. The page is organized by energy source and includes impacts such as water usage, emissions, local pollution, and wildlife displacement.

Green building architecture designed to minimize environmental and resource impact

Green building refers to both a structure and the application of processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building's life-cycle: from planning to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and demolition. This requires close cooperation of the contractor, the architects, the engineers, and the client at all project stages. The Green Building practice expands and complements the classical building design concerns of economy, utility, durability, and comfort.

Environmental technology the technical and technological processes for protection of the environment

Environmental technology (envirotech), green technology (greentech) or clean technology (cleantech) is the application of one or more of environmental science, green chemistry, environmental monitoring and electronic devices to monitor, model and conserve the natural environment and resources, and to curb the negative impacts of human involvement. The term is also used to describe sustainable energy generation technologies such as photovoltaics, wind turbines, bioreactors, etc. Sustainable development is the core of environmental technologies. The term environmental technologies is also used to describe a class of electronic devices that can promote sustainable management of resources.

Waste hierarchy

Waste hierarchy is a tool used in the evaluation of processes that protect the environment alongside resource and energy consumption from most favourable to least favourable actions. The hierarchy establishes preferred program priorities based on sustainability. To be sustainable, waste management cannot be solved only with technical end-of-pipe solutions and an integrated approach is necessary.

Negawatt market a theoretical unit of power representing the amount of electrical power in watts saved

A negawatt market is a theoretical energy market where the commodity traded is a negawatt-hour, a unit of energy saved as a direct result of energy conservation measures.

Pollution prevention (P2) is a strategy for reducing the amount of waste created and released into the environment, particularly by industrial facilities, agriculture, or consumers. Many large corporations view P2 as a method of improving the efficiency and profitability of production processes by waste reduction and technology advancements. Legislative bodies have enacted P2 measures, such as the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990 and the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 by the United States Congress.

Waste minimisation process that involves reducing the amount of waste produced in society

Waste minimisation is a set of processes and practices intended to reduce the amount of waste produced. By reducing or eliminating the generation of harmful and persistent wastes, waste minimisation supports efforts to promote a more sustainable society. Waste minimisation involves redesigning products and processes and/or changing societal patterns of consumption and production.

Sustainable Development Strategy in Canada

Sustainable Development Strategy for organizations in Canada is about the Government of Canada finding ways to develop social, financial, and environmental resources that meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs in Canada. A Sustainable Development Strategy for the organization needs to be developed that establishes the Sustainable Development goals and objectives set by the Auditor General Act of Canada and provides the written policies and procedures to achieve them. Sustainable Development is based on responsible decision-making, which considers not only the economic benefits of development, but also the short-term and long-term, Canadian environment and environmental impacts.

Procurement is the process of finding, acquiring, buying goods, services or works from an external source, often via a tendering or competitive bidding process. The process is used to ensure the buyer receives goods, services or works the best possible price, when aspects such as quality, quantity, time, and location are compared. Procurement is considered sustainable when organizations broadens this framework by meeting their needs for goods, services, works, and utilities in a way that achieves value for money and promotes positive outcomes not only for the organization itself but for the economy, environment, and society. This framework is also known as the triple bottom line.

In conservation and energy economics, the rebound effect is the reduction in expected gains from new technologies that increase the efficiency of resource use, because of behavioral or other systemic responses. These responses usually tend to offset the beneficial effects of the new technology or other measures taken.

Efficient energy use Energy efficiency

Efficient energy use, sometimes simply called energy efficiency, is the goal to reduce the amount of energy required to provide products and services. For example, insulating a home allows a building to use less heating and cooling energy to achieve and maintain a comfortable temperature. Installing LED lighting, fluorescent lighting, or natural skylight windows reduces the amount of energy required to attain the same level of illumination compared to using traditional incandescent light bulbs. Improvements in energy efficiency are generally achieved by adopting a more efficient technology or production process or by application of commonly accepted methods to reduce energy losses.

EPA Sustainability

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was established in July 1970 when the White House and the United States Congress came together due to the public's demand for cleaner natural resources. The purpose of the EPA is to repair the damage done to the environment and to set up new criteria to allow Americans to make a clean environment a reality. The ultimate goal of the EPA is to protect human health and the environment.

Environmentally Sustainable design is the philosophy of designing physical objects, the built environment, and services to comply with the principles of ecological sustainability.

A sustainability organization is (1) an organized group of people that aims to advance sustainability and/or (2) those actions of organizing something sustainably. Unlike many business organizations, sustainability organizations are not limited to implementing sustainability strategies which provide them with economic and cultural benefits attained through environmental responsibility. For sustainability organizations, sustainability can also be an end in itself without further justifications.

Life cycle thinking is an approach to becoming mindful of how everyday life affects the environment. This approach evaluates how both consuming products and engaging in activities impacts the environment but it not only evaluates them at one single step, but takes a holistic picture of an entire product or activity system.

Residential water use in the U.S. and Canada

Residential water use includes all indoor and outdoor uses of drinking quality water at single-family and multifamily dwellings. These uses include a number of defined purposes such as flushing toilets, washing clothes and dishes, showering and bathing, drinking, food preparation, watering lawns and gardens, and maintaining swimming pools. Some of these end uses are detectable while others are more difficult to gauge.


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  2. Waterwise
  3. https://sftool.gov/learn/about/45/water-efficiency
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  5. 1 2 WWC
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  9. Water Preservation in Rural India http://iharnews.com/index.php/government/231-haryana-rural-water-policy-2012
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  11. Water Efficient Solutions Journal
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  13. Savewater!
  14. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Washington, D.C. "Using Water Efficiently: Ideas for Communities." March 28, 2008.
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  21. 1 2 3 4 http://www.oregon.gov/oha/oei/Pages/cultural-competency.aspx
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  23. Bernardo, D. J., Mapp, H. P., Sabbagh, G. J., Geleta, S., Watkins, K. B., Elliott, R. L., & Stone, J. F. (1993). Economic and environmental impacts of water quality protection policies. 1. framework for regional analysis. Water Resources Research, 29(9), 3069-3080.
  24. 1 2 3 http://www.fao.org/docrep/004/ab776e/ab776e02.htm
  25. 1 2 https://www.wholecommunities.org/pdf/WTJ4text%20and%20cover.pdf