Approved by the Energy, Environment, and Water Policy Committee on December 10, 2020
Approved by the Public Policy Committee on February 3, 2021
Adopted by the Board of Direction on April 30, 2021
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) supports water conservation and water use efficiency measures as essential elements of sound water resources management. ASCE encourages suppliers, regulators, legislators, and consumers to support laws, regulations, policies, and programs for water conservation that achieve:
- A sustainable balance between demand management and the development of new water sources consistent with regional climate conditions
- Pricing that reflects the full economic value of water while keeping issues of equity and access in consideration;
- Accurate accounting of water volume from points of withdrawal to points of sale through metering, leakage control, and other waste reduction measures;
- Water conservation education and sharing of best practices;
- Research and implementation of efficient water use practices, such as reduced-water technologies, water reuse, and innovations related to energy production; and
- Targeted emergency water conservation for drought preparedness.
Sound management, consistent with the principles of sustainable development, is required to maintain adequate supplies of water for present and future water use sectors, including municipal, industrial, agricultural, hydroelectric, and in-stream needs. Water conservation is a critical component of water resources management. While water conservation programs and policies can originate at any level of government, the primary responsibility for implementation of water conservation measures rests with local agencies and users who are impacted by limited water resources. Legislation incorporating water conservation into water resources programs should be sensitive to regional conditions. Government agencies and water suppliers should dedicate funding for education and research on effective water conservation practices and techniques, and facilitate conservation technology, transfer, sharing and usage.
Civil engineers, in collaboration with planners, economists, and policy analysts have incorporated water conservation into water resources management programs at all levels of government. These well-formed programs have resulted in important mutual benefits of conservation for water supply, wastewater flow reduction and energy conservation. By minimizing water waste and loss, water conservation programs help reduce operating costs, peak demands on water systems and the need to expand water supply and wastewater systems to satisfy those peak demands. Conservation programs must be formulated considering established institutional frameworks and regional and local conditions and must be based on reliable water use data and sound analysis.
Increased competition for available water supplies provides increased justification for more intense water conservation efforts. The challenge is to convince the many beneficiaries of water conservation programs (e.g., people, agriculture, business, fishery, wildlife, and recreation interests) that the programs are an essential part of balanced water resources management. Balanced management conserves resources and is cost-effective and environmentally sensitive.
Water conservation, as part of demand management, is the prudent and efficient use of available sources of supply. Water conservation measures are being applied successfully in many localities and regions for a variety of targeted beneficial uses. This is especially true in regions with rising demands, with rising costs and where competition for water supplies is most intense. To supplement long-term effective water management practices, sector-specific short-term plans should be in place and implemented in times of drought or emergency water system outage.
This policy has worldwide application.
ASCE Policy Statement 337
First Approved in 1988