Monitoring Water Consumption

Water dripping with ripples

In HOAs, monitoring water consumption can be a very valuable practice.

There are a number of ways to do this. One method that is gaining traction involves monitoring each residential unit individually. Let’s take a look.

Denver exists in a semi-arid climate. While monsoon rains and plentiful snow in non-drought years may lead us to forget that from time to time, it is important to remember that a good water supply is very important for greater Denver’s population; especially since it is growing so much and so fast as of late. A good way to make sure we are using “only what we need,” as Denver Water’s slogan goes, is to monitor use.

The most common method of water use monitoring at HOAs is simply reviewing the bills that the community gets from their water utility. These statements show current use, year-to-date use, and other information to see if consumption is too high, typical, or conservation-oriented. These statements, however, are very general in nature. They show total use as one figure; not often broken down by the purpose of use or who, specifically, is using it. With that, can be hard to tell how much water is used at the clubhouse vs landscaping, etc.

When a HOA enters into a water conservation program with a water utility, they will often take it a bit further by measuring use against a desired amount. This is a good way to see how the community is doing in the big picture. Is the HOA using too much? Or are they saving water? Still, these statements do not often get into the specifics of where the water is being used and from what tap.

Frequently, regardless of what the water-related goals of the HOA might be, and whether or not old toilets and other obsolete fixtures are in use, it can be hard to save as much water as possible. This is often due to the “tragedy of the commons” effect; the equal sharing of responsibility. Frequently, because one bill is issued for each building, and everyone is paying for it equally through assessments, some people feel comfortable using more than is their “fair share,” sort of speak. To combat this, and put accountability on each unit to encourage residents to use an appropriate amount of water, some HOAs are installing water use monitoring devices in each home and billing the unit owners for what is consumed.

Techem is a company which is installing such water use monitoring devices. CAP Management is willing to partner with them, and with HOAs interested in reducing water consumption. At a cost to the HOA of about five dollars per unit per year, homeowners will be responsible and financially liable for the amount of water used in their unit(s), at associations consisting of attached units. Some say that the “tragedy of the commons” affecting many HOAs with high water bills will be eliminated at the communities where these devices are installed. Communities will then see lower water use overall. It’s an interesting concept and we are eager to see how well it works. Readers: what do you think? Let us know by contacting our Chief Sustainability Officer, Alex Bergeron, at AlexB@capmanagement.com or 303.832.2971 ext. 102.