Water Conservation

Overview

Saving water is a part of Clearwater Greenprint, the city's sustainability plan.

greenprint, sustainability, resiliency, rain barrel

Why Saving Water is Important

Water has economic, social, and political implications that make it a unique and challenging natural resource to manage. Our habits, practices, and expectations about the availability of freshwater threaten the long-term enjoyment of this vital resource. Clearwater residents use approximately 11.2 million gallons of drinking water every day. Around 80% of this water is pumped from city-owned and operated groundwater wells. The remaining water is supplied by water purchased from Pinellas County Utilities. While vital to the community, the water treatment process requires a large amount of energy. Transporting and treating water is the highest energy user and greenhouse gas emissions source of all the municipal operations.

Water use and the energy demand associated with it can be reduced through behavioral change. There are many behavior-related conservation strategies that can be implemented as the first steps toward achieving a more sustainable water resource management system. These types of strategies simply require awareness of the issue and the corrective action, along with personal or organizational desire to be part of the solution. Although Clearwater residents use significantly less water per capita per day (81 gallons) than the national average (88 gallons), water conservation measures can still result in savings. Beyond behavioral changes, there is the installation of water-saving devices in homes and businesses. These low-cost investments produce long-term savings, especially when coupled with a reduced need for hot water, which requires a significant amount of energy to produce.

Limiting water used for irrigation is essential to reducing water use. Though it requires some knowledge, planning, and investment, landscaping can be designed to use small amounts of water and irrigation systems can be configured to operate only where and when needed. By watering lawns and gardens more efficiently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that Florida residents could save 46 million gallons of water each day, or the daily amount needed to supply every household in Tampa.

As a coastal community, it is also important to consider potential impacts from the forecasted sea-level rise in Clearwater; among them, flooding and reduced access to drinking water.

Water Conservation Strategies Overview

Water Conservation

  • Continue to encourage water conservation in homes, businesses and industries.
  • Continue to consider changes to water use regulations and fees on an annual basis.
  • Encourage residents and businesses to adopt water conservation standards such as Florida Water Star for existing and new construction.
  • Consider developing year-round water restrictions that are more stringent than Southwest Florida Water Management District restrictions.

Waterwise Landscapes

  • Use code-based incentives (e.g., accelerated site plan review time) to encourage community members to create landscapes at the same time as new development or redevelopment that integrate water saving measures.
  • Promote and facilitate neighborhood-based projects that train residents on Florida-Friendly landscaping practices.
  • Partner with neighborhoods and local organizations to recognize existing Florida-Friendly yards and highlight effective and affordable xeriscaping techniques.

Low Impact Development

  • Identify and prioritize potential retrofits to city buildings for rainwater capture.
  • Create guidance for private property owners to develop and implement rainwater collection plans.
  • Increase awareness of co-benefits of low-impact development.
  • Consider installations that capture, retain and treat stormwater runoff from parking lots, driveways and roads.

Strategy 1: Water Conservation

  • Continue to encourage water conservation in homes, businesses and industries.
  • Continue to consider changes to water use regulations and fees on an annual basis.
  • Encourage residents and businesses to adopt water conservation standards such as Florida Water Star for existing and new construction.
  • Consider developing year-round water restrictions that are more stringent than Southwest Florida Water Management District restrictions.

The city has and will continue to encourage water conservation in Clearwater homes, businesses, and industries. The city’s Public Utilities department actively educates community members about the availability of water-saving devices such as low-flow toilets and high-efficiency irrigation systems. These devices have been popular in the region and have resulted in significant water savings over the last decade. As a result, the city has a very low usage of water per person. Since the first Clearwater Greenprint plan, the city has continued to progress completing each of the reclaimed water services identified in its Water Supply & Treatment Master Plan.

On an annual basis, the city will continue to consider changes to water use regulation and fees. The assessment will include continued evaluation of options to revise rates for promotion of water conservation. The city will encourage residents and businesses to adopt water conservation standards such as Florida Water Star for existing and new construction and will consider developing year-round water restrictions that are more stringent than Southwest Florida Water Management District restrictions.

Strategy 2: Waterwise Landscapes

  • Use code-based incentives (e.g., accelerated site plan review time) to encourage community members to create landscapes at the same time as new development or redevelopment that integrate water saving measures.
  • Promote and facilitate neighborhood-based projects that train residents on Florida-Friendly landscaping practices.
  • Partner with neighborhoods and local organizations to recognize existing Florida-Friendly yards and highlight effective and affordable xeriscaping techniques.

The city will use code-based incentives (e.g. accelerated site plan review time) to encourage community members to create landscapes at the same time as new development or redevelopment that integrate water saving measures such as Florida-Friendly Landscaping principles. Along with incentives, the city will promote and facilitate neighborhood-based projects that train residents on Florida-Friendly landscaping practices. The city will partner with neighborhoods and local organizations to recognize existing Florida-friendly yards and highlight effective and affordable xeriscaping techniques. Community members also have access to rainwater collection and water conservation workshops through Pinellas County.

Strategy 3: Low-Impact Development

  • A. Identify and prioritize potential retrofits to city buildings for rainwater capture.
  • Create guidance for private property owners to develop and implement rainwater collection.
  • Increase awareness of co-benefits of low-impact development.
  • Consider installations that capture, retain and treat stormwater runoff from parking lots, driveways and roads.

Low Impact Development (LID) is a design approach that emphasizes conservation and use of on-site natural features to protect water quality. Collecting rainwater is a great example of LID. By collecting and using rainwater, we can greatly reduce the use of treated water for landscape irrigation. Rainwater collecting systems, especially from roof areas, are easy to install and there are a variety of sizes and styles of rain barrels and cisterns for rainwater storage. Other examples of LID include bioswales, rain gardens, green roofs, and more.

The National Resource Defense Council analyzed 17 LID case studies comparing the cost of LID and conventional stormwater management practices. In most cases, LID methods were both economically and environmentally beneficial, with capital cost savings ranging from 15 to 80%.

Since Clearwater Greenprint was first created, the city has incorporated LID elements into its Stormwater Drainage Criteria Manual and the development standards it uses for the US 19 and Downtown zoning districts. The Cleveland Streetscape Phase III design will also incorporate LID practices such as integrating stormwater detention into vegetated street areas so that it can be stored temporarily until it can drain naturally instead of diverting it directly into the city’s stormwater system.

Looking forward, the city will identify and prioritize potential retrofits to city buildings for rainwater capture. Additionally, the city will create guidance for private property owners to develop and implement rainwater collecting plans with a goal of capturing runoff from at least 10% of impervious surfaces, or surfaces that prevent the entry of water (e.g., asphalt, concrete, brick, and stone). The focus of the efforts should be on the roof area, but might include installations that capture, retain and treat stormwater runoff from parking lots, driveways and roads. Rainwater collecting systems, in combination with reuse of greywater, which is relatively clean wastewater from baths, sinks or washing machines, will reduce demand for and expense of piped water for landscape irrigation.

As part of the overall sustainable water resources program, integrating LID principles into building and site designs, such as bioswales, rain gardens, and other vegetated areas, will go a long way toward raising awareness of water resource issues. LID also has many non-water saving benefits, including conserving greenspace and stormwater retention. The city will work to increase awareness of these co-benefits.

 

Learn More About Water Conservation

Importance of Water Conservation

Florida Friendly Landscapes

  • Florida Friendly Landscaping Program, UFIFASFFL Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Program. Florida Friendly Landscaping. https://ffl.ifas.ufl.edu/.

Environmentally Friendly Street Design