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Policy Statement 337 - Water Conservation


Approved by the Energy, Environment and Water Policy Committee on December 12, 2017
Approved by the Public Policy Committee on May 6, 2018 
Adopted by the Board of Direction on July 13, 2018


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;
  • Pricing that reflects the economic and other values of water;
  • Reduced waste through accurate accounting of water volume from points of withdrawal to points of sale through metering, leakage control, and other measures;
  • Water conservation education;
  • Sharing of best practice programs; 
  • Research and implementation of efficient water use practices;
  • Demand management consistent with the climate of the region and the availability and ease of development of new sources of water; and
  • 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 responsibility for implementation of water conservation measures should rest with the local agencies and users who are impacted. Legislation incorporating water conservation into water resources programs must be sensitive to regional conditions. Government agencies and water suppliers need to dedicate funding for education and research on effective water conservation practices and techniques, and to facilitate conservation technology, transfer, sharing and usage.


Water conservation has been incorporated into water resources management programs at all levels of government. These well-formed actions 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