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Multifamily Lagging Other Industries in California in Water Conservation

Digested from “The next target in Southern California’s drought conservation? Renters”
Redlands Daily Facts (8/18/15) Scauzillo, Steve

Drought continues to plague California, with new mandates calling for further water use reductions this year. Many jurisdictions have saved water, thanks largely to businesses and single-family-home owners. But although renters aren’t necessarily doing a poor job of conserving water, apartment communities are lagging considerably behind other industries. The differences lie in bill payment, metrics and usage control. 

Most renters in California don’t pay their water bills — the apartment communities do — so it’s hard to incentivize them to conserve water when they will likely never be fined or lose money if they don't use less water. And they can't  track use year over year, as bill-paying customers would, to even measure their efforts. They also can't control how much water is used for landscaping, a critical component of water conservation. 

It’s also hard to determine how much water apartment homes use without installing individual meters, which is why new legislation is being introduced to require such devices. Senate Bill 7 would call for submetering, as the practice is called, for apartment communities starting in 2016. Apartment community owners and managers are hoping to see incentives for installing individual meters similar to those for lawn care to help offset the cost, which will likely be high, given the large number of residents who live in multifamily dwellings.  

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