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News Review
Baseline Survey: Study Shows Santa Cruz Leader in Water Conservation Practices
Posted Date: 5/29/2013
MAY 29, 2013

Santa Cruz – The City of Santa Cruz Water Department has completed a first ever “Baseline Survey” of customer’s water use, which shows both that most buildings now feature water conserving plumbing fixtures and appliances and that there is still room for some improvement. The survey will inform the update to the Water Conservation Master Plan, due out in 2014.

Undertaken in 2011, 150 single family homes, 50 multi-family residences and 120 commercial and institutional facilities were visited and analyzed. The highest priority for the study was to understand the efficiency of existing plumbing fixtures, which use the most water, followed by an evaluation of appliances and outdoor water use. Information gathered informs the conservation arm of the water department on where there’s the greatest room for additional savings.

“The good news,” said Toby Goddard, water conservation manager, “is that Santa Cruz is already a leader in California when it comes to water conservation. We found that between 92-94% of all housing units are already using water efficient shower heads, and 88-90% are using water efficient toilets.” To put that into perspective, studies show that statewide, only about 60-70% of residents use efficiency toilets. However Goddard is quick to point out that there is room for improvement in increasing the use of both high efficiency dish and clothes washers. Right now about 65% of single family homes and around 50% of multi-family homes in Santa Cruz use these kinds of appliances. “The city offers a $100 rebate to residents who buy an Energy Star labeled high-efficiency washing machine – we have about 500-700 participants annually,” notes Goddard, “I’d like to see that number increase.” The city also offers rebates on high efficiency toilets and irrigated lawn removal; free shower heads, kitchen and bathroom aerators, shut-off hose nozzles and garden hose timers; and water-wise gardening information. You can also schedule a free home audit.

The Baseline Survey also evaluated customer’s outdoor water use. Though a much smaller slice of the water-use pie, the survey shows that customer’s outdoor conservation practices correlate closely with their indoor conservation awareness.

The water department’s conservation staff closely monitors use trends, particularly in light of future projections for increased drought conditions. The city’s water supply is 100% dependent upon rainfall, and the city is in its second “dry” year in a row; rainfall in 2012 was 69% of normal, in 2013 it’s 59% of normal. The city council has implemented Stage 1 water restrictions from now through October 31.
For more information on conservation rebates, current water supply and Stage 1 restrictions, visit the city’s Water Department website at