PALM BEACH – David Rosow, Town Council President, asked the Civic Association to help study how water is being used so that the town can make plans to meet the future needs of Palm Beach.  The Civic Association Water Committee completed the analysis and presented to the Town Water Committee today. The presentation was given by Civic Association Director and Water Committee Co-Chair Harvey L. Poppel.

Civic Association Director and Water Committee Co-Chair Pat Cooper said, “The analysis we did encompassed over 3,000 water bills in the town. It was very enlightening and we thank David Rosow for the opportunity to help with this important project.  We look forward to finding more ways to help the Town.”

Analysis of the demand for water shows that the Town is using 6 million gallons / day in FY07-FY08 down from 8.4 million in FY05-FY06, a 30% decrease because of water restrictions.

The analysis determined that:
•Many properties are misclassified in the West Palm Beach system: single-family in commercial and multi-residential, and multi-residential in commercial. They are probably paying the wrong rate and will have to double-check their bills.
•Single-residence usage varies widely even among similar properties. Property owners should check for leaks, especially in pools.
•58% of the water usage in Palm Beach is by single-family residences.
•The median single-family residence uses over 800 gallons / day.
•Roughly 80% of our single-residence use is for irrigation.
•The average monthly bill and rate for water is relatively low compared with the Florida median and places like Sarasota; Marin, California; and Tucson, Arizona.
•Most of the Town is using 1962 technology to control irrigation: a timer connected to the sprinkler system.

Preliminary conclusions from the analysis:
•New technology can materially reduce water use. Smart Controllers instead of timers work based on the weather, and actual needs of each irrigation zone, and have reduced water use by 20%-50% around the nation. California is legally mandating smart controller use by 2011.
•Conserving in irrigation will have a bigger impact than indoor conservation or systems (shower heads and toilets).
•Wholesale reduction of demand will not necessarily reduce customer bills. As water use goes down, rates many times go up to make up for the shortfall in revenue.
•Conservation is our strongest means to minimize capital expenditures for new water sources.

Recommendations from the Civic Association include:
•Start a smart irrigation controller program.
•Create and distribute a public education conservation program.
•Help high usage properties with water audits and direct assistance.
•Work on a program for financial incentives to conserve.
•Create a usage reduction forecast.
•Work with the South Florida Water Management District on incentive program for conservation and smart controllers.

Mr. Poppel said, “The Civic Association believes that going forward, further development and implementation of conservation measures will require significant input from the Town staff and possibly consultants. We are happy to assist in these efforts.”

Next steps are for members of the Civic Association Water Committee and staff and Town management and staff to hold a meeting to formulate smart controller education and program for the town.