Clermont’s water budget program may be the future of water conservation in Florida
Most people live on a budget. It just makes sense. Clermont Utilities has taken that concept and applied it to water use. The city’s utility requires all properties that use city water for landscape irrigation to meet an annual water budget.
A Clermont Utilities worker using the city’s Neptune metering system, which detects excessive water use.
Utility customers who use water for lawn and landscape watering are required to have a separate meter which allows the utility to track outdoor water use. Each customer must abide by an annual water budget based on the property size, pervious area and an annual landscape irrigation rate of 35 inches. If a lot size hasn’t been determined, the utility bases the annual water budget on a quarter-acre lot with 50 percent pervious area.
The city’s Neptune metering system detects excessive water use (for example, a 20 percent increase over the norm), enabling the utility to fix a problem in short order, says Jim Maiworm, Clermont’s assistant director of public services.
“We contact the property owner to find out what the problem is,” Maiworm says. “We work proactively, fix the problem and educate the customer. It gets us darn near 100 percent in terms of compliance.”
Clermont Utilities recommends that its customers install a second meter, but not all city residents have one. Most newer developments — especially those with reclaimed water lines — do have two meters installed at each home.
“An established water budget for property owners is smart and doesn’t create a hardship for anyone,” Irwin says. “Clermont’s water budget program may be the future of water conservation in Florida.”
As part of its consumptive use permitting process, the St. Johns River Water Management District requires all permit holders to use water as efficiently as possible. Water supply utilities are required to implement conservation rate structures, perform water audits to ensure system efficiency and develop programs for the use of reclaimed water whenever possible.
Utilities throughout our District have found creative ways to implement their permit requirements. Today we take you to Clermont and continue our look at public utilities that have developed innovative programs to save their customers money and to help preserve our precious water resources.