EPA-Sponsored Study Calls for State, Local Governments To Adopt Water Metering in Multi-Housing Properties

JULY 21, 2004 -- Boulder, Colo.--A new study sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Apartment Association, the National Multi Housing Council and other groups recommended that submetering be promoted by local and state governments seeking to encourage water savings

A draft copy of the report, "National Multiple Family Submetering and Allocation Billing Program Study," said that submetering was found to achieve statistically significant water savings of 15.3 percent (21.8 gallons per day per unit) compared with properties that included water charges in the rent. The report also said it found no evidence that Ratio Utility Billing Systems (RUBS) reduced water consumption.

"Submetering is a practice that offers documented water savings," said the draft copy of the report. "As such, submetering should be fostered by public policies seeking to encourage water savings, together with appropriate measures to protect the consumer and mitigate its administrative concerns."

The report recommended state and local governments establish the legal framework and statutory language for all forms of multi-housing billing systems "in lieu of a patchwork of state agency administrative actions."

It also suggested that all new multi-housing construction provide for the means to measure water usage in each unit.

One of the report's policies recommendations for water and wastewater utilities was that the initiation of any water-billing system in pre-1995 multi-housing should be accompanied by complete plumbing-fixture upgrades to save water.

A total of 7,942 properties responded to the study. The study was prepared by Aquacraft Inc. Water Engineering and Management, the National Research Center Inc., Potomac Resources Inc., the University of California at Berkeley and an economist.

Sponsors of the study also included a number of cities, including Austin, Texas, Phoenix and Portland, Ore.; water authorities; and public utilities.