Off with Their Faucets

| March-April 2009

To everyone who’s trying to be green by using less water, we salute you—but making our collective water use sustainable will take bigger-scale changes like those being pioneered by forward-thinking municipalities and water authorities, reports Environmental Building News (Sept. 2008). These innovators, many of them in the water-poor southwestern United States, are pointing the way for the rest of us by using regulations, incentives, and other policies to save water. Some of them are making rather technical fixes, such as laying the legal groundwork for low-flow fixtures to be sold (California) or adopting tiered pricing that discourages high-volume use (Austin, Texas). Others dangle a carrot, giving away high-efficiency toilets (San Antonio, Texas), paying homeowners to replace lawns with native plantings (Las Vegas), or simply enabling consumers to track their water use online (New York City) because, as EBN points out, “it’s hard to conserve what we aren’t measuring.”