Whenever you step up to your faucet, you expect clean, drinkable water every time- no questions asked. Clean water is something that many of us don’t think about in daily use, but it’s a crucial resource that we can’t take for granted.

The average daily consumption per person in the United States is around 100 gallons per day for domestic and public needs. This type of consumption requires a lot of planning and management to keep up with water demand. 

How do districts and municipalities ensure that their residents, businesses, farms and industrial operations get the water they need to keep things running? What does it take to keep up with the daily water demand? Check out how water and wastewater operators work through these challenges.

What is Water Demand?

Water demand is the amount of water a person, household, business or other entity uses regularly. Water demand can scale down to the household level and up to a municipal or district level. Water demand isn’t just about the water you use for drinking or cleaning, but also the foods you eat and the products and services you use.

Here are a few of the categories of demand:

  • Domestic/Residential: Any household functions for water like drinking, bathing, cooking and cleaning
  • Commercial: Water used at stores, restaurants, offices, etc.
  • Industrial: Water used for manufacturing
  • Agricultural: Water used for crop irrigation and livestock
  • Public: Water used for public recreation, firefighting, etc.

As water demand spreads across many aspects of daily life, it becomes more apparent why operators must manage it carefully.

Four Factors that Affect Water Supply and Demand

Water supply and demand are affected by several factors. Water and wastewater operations and management groups, such as Alliance Water Resources, help utilities better manage demand. Here are four demand factors and solutions water suppliers use to address them.

Population Growth and Decline

Population growth and decline affect water demand in the most straightforward way possible; they add or subtract the number of people who need access to clean water. 

While rapid population growth isn’t as big of an issue in the U.S. as it is in other countries, rural communities have seen population growth and decline as a factor in their public water demand in the past decade. Some rural towns saw a resurgence in population and may have had difficulty keeping up with demand. Others may have systems that are too large for the population’s collective income to maintain.

Many utilities have to lean on private operators to look for short and long-term solutions in these cases.

Geographical Features and Climate

The geography and climate of the area make a substantial impact on water demand. Areas like Texas and California have to address this problem because they are naturally dry places with large, attractive cities. Water and wastewater operators must minimize water loss. Other areas in the Midwest have access to more freshwater resources like lakes or rivers. 

Forecasting water demand is one way operators manage water resources. Measurement is key to water demand forecasting as it helps operators get more accurate readings on how much their customers use. In Fountain Valley, the city implemented an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) that helped utilities see how much was being used down to an hourly rate. This type of measurement helped the utilities see when peak usage times were so they could prepare for spikes.

Advanced metering also helps give utilities and other vital decision-makers the information needed to determine how they need to change pricing structures. In addition to AMI, leak detection systems can prevent water from being wasted when delivered to customers.

Government Policy and Utility Billing

For water-scarce areas, government policies and utility regulations help to curb water demand on all levels. The strongest example of government policy to limit demand is mandated water usage reductions. Local government, through zoning regulations, can also determine what water resources can be used for public use. 

Some utilities address these limits on water usage by using an “increasing block rate” that increases water prices after customers use a certain amount or if they use water during peak times. These water rates are especially helpful in managing residential water demand.

Other government initiatives may include encouraging citizens to install water-efficient tools like low-flow showerheads. One standard solution used by many municipalities is residential irrigation system use, meaning lawn and landscape watering is limited to specific days of the week.

Education on Water Use and Conservation

Education on water usage and conservation is paramount to managing water demand. When customers don’t know the value of their water, they are less likely to conserve it. Educating consumers and their families can come through various opportunities. Here are two common avenues for telling current and future customers about water supply and demand:

In-School Education

There is no better place to start teaching your community about water conservation and efficiency than in the classroom. Having experienced operators visit the classroom is a great way to reach out to the community and teach future generations how to conserve water. 

Alliance Water Resources is happy to help educate students about the importance of clean water and water conservation. If you would like information on how to schedule a presentation, please contact us.

Community Outreach at Local Events

While utilities may not have the same opportunity with adults that they do with students, they can set themselves up for success by visiting local events. Community outreach presents a chance to talk with customers about water conservation’s importance, encouraging them to ask questions about the water distribution process.

Are you looking for a water and wastewater operations management team that can help you manage demand? Contact the experts at Alliance Water Resources to see how we can help you make the most of your water supply today.