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Janesville residents are asked to lower water use

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MARCIA A. NELESEN
May 11, 2010
— The city of Janesville will start encouraging residents to conserve water, and some strategies could include rebates for more efficient fixtures and appliances and an ordinance regulating hours for watering grass.

The city’s proposed conservation plan is a result of Clean Wisconsin’s intervention last year when the city requested a water rate increase from the Public Service Commission.


The council reviewed the plan Monday, and it will be forwarded to the PSC.


Strategies include:


-- Educating the public with water-saving tips and presentations to schools and service groups. The city would work with its industrial customers to review their operations. It would expand its own leak detection program and improve its record-keeping.


-- Giving rebates to encourage residents to replace old appliances and fixtures with new, energy-efficient products. For example, a $25 rebate is suggested for showerheads that use more than 2.5 gallons of water per minute. Rebate recipients would have to replace showerheads with models that use no more than 2 gallons per minute. The city would pay $50 for water-efficient toilets, a measure that could save almost 11 gallons per toilet per day. The city would consider future rebates for appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines. Rebates initially would be limited to one per household.


-- Researching landscape ordinances to forbid watering during the hottest times of the day. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, lawn care makes up about one-third of all outdoor water use nationwide.


-- Increasing the cost of water to encourage conservation.


The city must spend $75,000 the first year of the program as part of the agreement with the PSC. Of that, $20,000 will go to education, $40,000 to rebates and $15,000 for a water audit program for industrial customers.


Even though Janesville water levels are stable, it is important to plan for continued growth, Thomas Malone, management analyst, wrote in a memo to council members. Areas as close as Dane County are experiencing declines, he said.


“If effective water conservation measures can be realized, the city of Janesville may be able to avoid the construction of costly new wells and pumping facilities,” he wrote.


Also included in the report:


-- Wisconsin has more than 1.2 quadrillion gallons of groundwater. Each day, an estimated 330 million gallons of water are used for municipal purposes.


-- In 2009, Janesville used about 10 million gallons per day.


-- Even though groundwater levels are partially restored by rainwater, only 18 to 30 percent of rainfall soaks back into the ground. The rest runs off to the nearest water body or evaporates.


-- In 2007, Janesville’s per capita residential demand was 60.2 gallons per day. That is high compared to other Wisconsin utilities, according to the report. The per capita residential consumption of Janesville’s peer cities averaged 50 gallons.


Other water conserving practices will be included as the plan develops, according to the report.



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