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Developing a Water Management Plan

A comprehensive water management plan helps kick-start a successful water management program by helping a facility set water conservation goals and identify water conservation opportunities. The plan should include clear information about how a facility uses its water, from the time it is piped into the facility through disposal. Knowledge of current water consumption and its costs is essential for making the most appropriate water management decisions. This page includes helpful hints in developing a water management plan. You can also view completed water management plans for many of EPA’s facilities.

Best Management Practices

A focal point of water management plans is the Best Management Practices (BMPs) section. BMPs are designed to consider all of the various uses of water and maximize conservation. BMPs can be categorized to either maximize water efficiency or minimize water use. Following are 14 BMPs as recommended by the Federal Energy Management Program:

Picture of a low-flow faucet with electronic sensor.

Low-flow faucet with electronic sensor.

Elements of a Proper Water Management Plan

A water management plan can be divided into three components: water accounting, BMPs achieved, and water management opportunities. To develop a proper facility water management plan, it is important to include the following elements, at a minimum:

  1. Operation and Maintenance (O&M). Appropriate O&M recommendations from the BMPs are included in facility operating plans or procedure manuals.
  2. Utility Information. Appropriate utility information includes the following:
    1. Contact information for all water and wastewater utilities.
    2. Current rate schedules and alternative schedules appropriate for usage or facility type. This helps ensure that you are paying the best rate.
    3. Copies of water/sewer bills for the past two years. This will help you identify inaccuracies and determine whether you are using the appropriate rate structure.
    4. Information on financial or technical assistance available from the utilities to help with facility water planning and implementing water efficiency programs. Some energy utilities offer assistance on water efficiency.
    5. Contact information for the agency or office that pays the water/sewer bills.
    6. Production information, if the facility produces its water and/or treats its own wastewater.
  3. Facility information. At a minimum, perform a walk-through audit of the facility to identify all major water-using processes, determine the location and accuracy of water measurement devices and main shut off-valves, and verify operating schedules and occupancy of buildings. To meet reporting requirements in Executive Order 13423, facilities should include a description of actions necessary to improve the accuracy of their water usage data. Activities can include a metering (or other measurement) plan for the facility.*
  4. Emergency response information. Develop water emergency and/or drought contingency plans describing how your facility will meet minimum water needs in an emergency or reduce water consumption in a drought or other water shortage. This should be done in conjunction with your local water supplier.
  5. Comprehensive Planning. Inform staff contractors and the public of the priority your agency or facility places on water and energy efficiency. Ensure appropriate considerations are taken into account early in the design and planning of any new or retrofit project.

* In order to properly manage water conservation projects, it is important that all water be accounted for through precise measurement, such as water meters. It is necessary to have measurements not only to plan how to address water conservation, but also to monitor and track progress made in these programs as well as to adjust and make changes.

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