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Water meters: new challenge for managers.

It's inevitable, water meters are coming and we have all best accept it and adopt proper water conserving strategies. In the Bronx where meters have been installed, a group called the Collation for Affordable Water is planning a lawsuit to halt the metering program. I hate to say it but probably all they will accomplish is adding to the already over-burdened court system and the lining of lawyers pockets.

The wise alternative to prolonged lawsuits is to start learning how to beat the meter. If owners and managers continue with wasteful methods of water use they deserve to pay and pay dearly. The smart ones will adopt water conservation programs that will keep the water bills to a minimum and in some cases pay less than the old frontage charges. Frontage charges encourage waste. Why bother to conserve when you can waste all you want for the same price?

Learning how to beat the meter is not all that difficult. The hard part is following through with any sort of water conservation program and sticking to it. A plan of action involves just a few steps in residential dwellings. First a building survey is necessary to determine flow rates of fixtures and appliances and to discover any obvious leaks. If you don't know what you're using and where, it's impossible to figure out where to begin.

Second, a cost benefit analysis is performed to determine which items in the survey will give you the biggest payback for the money invested in low flow fixtures. IN a typical residential building this usually involves low flow showerheads, retrofit devices for toilets (tank and flushometer) and aerators. Rarely mentioned at conservation meetings and in literature handed out by many different organizations is the energy savings that can be realized by using low flow showerheads. A typical family of four can save about $200 per year of No. 2 fuel oil. MUltiply this by 100 or more and you've saved a nice piece of change. During installation of these items small leaks of the pot under the kitchen sink variety can be found and repaired. Leaks generally account for IOX of more of a building's water use. Installation of the above items requires a minimum of effort and expense and will usually pay for themselves in a matter of weeks or months and continue to provide long term savings.

Commercial and industrial buildings require a bit more effort and expense. Modern technology is providing many new and exciting products that architects and engeers are just beginning to spec into new buildings and renovations. In public rest rooms infrared activated equipment installed on sinks and water closets dramatically lowers water use. Treatment of cooling tower water lengthens time between blowdowns. A California company is now producing an Ultra-Sonic dishwasher that recirculates most of the water it uses. Converting water cooled refrigeration equipment to air cooled can make a real big dent in water use. For those really committed to conservation a building water recycling system can cut use by as much as 90 percent.

For any water conservation program to be successful the next step and a primary tool is education. Residents and tenants have never had to worry about how much water they waste. It's time for building owners and managers to send them to schoo. Door knob hangers and mailbox stuffers are the easiest and least expensive way to start. But they can also be the least successful method of education. If they can be arranged, seminars can be very successful at changing the old wasteful ways. It provides a forum for people to learn why they should conserve water and how to do it. It also provides a time for questions to be asked and gives an owner or manager valuable feedback that they would otherwise be unable to attain.

Follow-up and constant vigilance is necessary for long term success of any water conservation program. Keeping an eye on the meter can warn you of problems in the building. It's your warning system for unseen leaks or a tenant turning their apartment into a laundry.

The bottom line is that ike it or not meters are here to stay. If the people in the Bronx think that their water bills are too high, wait until they get their tax bills to pay for the gigantic water treatment plants needed for using Hudson River water or worse yet, the pipeline to Canada. We have to learn to conserve now, or we'll pay later and that price will be high, you can bet on it.

Clive Mutschler, a member of the American Water Works Association and the Environmental Committee of the Long Island Association is president of Water Wise, Inc. a water conservation consulting firm and distributor and representative for products by such companies as the Water-Matic Corporation, World Dryer Corporation, Ultra-Sonic Products, Cycle-Let Systems and other water conserving equipment manufacturers.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Hagedorn Publication
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Property Management Supplement
Author:Mutschler, Clive
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Oct 2, 1991
Words:817
Previous Article:Suburban owner emphasizes service.
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