When asked why he robbed banks, Willie Sutton supposedly said “because that’s where the money is.” In the same vein, programs intended to save water should focus on those customers who use the most water. Surprisingly, most utilities do nothing of the sort; their undifferentiated programs address all customers, whether they use very little or lots of water.
My latest paper, “Improving Water Use Efficiency: Focus on the Outliers,” analyzes monthly water-use data for 2,600 single-family homes in Lynden for 2014, 2015 and 2016. The top 10% of customers use about 900 gallons per day in the summer, 10 times as much as the bottom 10%. This huge difference offers a great opportunity for water utilities to focus their efficiency programs on the top users to minimize program costs and maximize benefits.
Editor note: Because Eric’s formatting uses footnotes that we cannot duplicate in a normal text article, his study is an attached PDF.