2021 Outstanding Public Engagement Award Winner

Customer Water Use Report

City of Garden City
Garden City, Kansas

Describe the goals of your program.

  • Educate customers about water use at their property.
  • Provide information that compares customer water use to others in their neighborhood.
  • Provide information that compares customer water use on a per square foot basis to all water users in the City.
  • Provide tips and information to help customers save water inside and outside the home.
  • Provide customers with information about the Citys WaterSense Controller Rebate Program.

What need or problem are you trying to address with this program?

The City of Garden City is a regional trade center located in rural southwest Kansas. The City exclusively utilizes groundwater to meet its water needs. Because of our semi-arid climate, communities in this region tend to use more water for uses outside the home.

Before this program, customers were generally uninformed regarding their water consumption aside from paying the cost of their water bills. Customers were also generally uninformed regarding the quantity of water used and how much water is used for irrigation purposes.

Describe how the program increases engagement with residential and/or commercial end users in your community to promote outdoor water conservation.

The program provides information to every residential address in the City by utilizing technologies and information already used by the City for other purposes. The water use report (samples attached to this application) is also customized to each specific address. The data is presented to customers in terms of percentage above or below average and how many dollars they are potentially spending and/or saving based on their current practices. We then use that information to promote other activities such as sprinkler check-ups or encourage them to participate in our WaterSense Irrigation Controller Rebate program, which reimburses customers up to $150.00 cash to offset the cost to install a WaterSense Certified Irrigation Controller.

Describe how the program incorporates education on smart technologies, efficient technologies, best practices or programs related to outdoor water conservation.

We have merged our Geographic Information System (GIS) data with our Automated Metering Infrastructure (AMI) data to create a report that shows how much water the customer uses and how much water is used per square foot of landscape. The customers report compares their usage to the average usage of their neighborhood and the average usage of all water users in the City. We also share information through other channels such as social media to show how the City has used these technologies to save water.

Currently, the City uses HydroPoint Data Systems Weather Trak units in many of our City Parks to automate our irrigation and save water using WaterSense principles. This information is shared with customers to show how using smart irrigation saves water for our community and how to use the same technologies at home.

How was the program’s success measured?

Since we started the program, we see consistent declines in our Gallons Per Capita Day (GPCD) usage in the City. In 2017 when the first report was sent to customers, the GPCD for the City was 182 gallons. Last year in 2020, the City GPCD was 162 gallons. While this report is not solely responsible for all the declines, we believe that it has played a role in conveying the need for water conservation in our community and provided them with tools to help improve their use of water.

Last year we implemented our WaterSense Irrigation Controller Rebate. We are tracking water use among customers that have taken advantage of this rebate to compare their usage. We believe that if this technology is successful, we can use this data to drive future policy decisions that may require smart technologies on customer irrigation systems.

What are the results of the program to date?

The program has had several beneficial results. First, it drives discussion and engages customers to contact us regarding their water usage. The report has also helped to drive participation in our Water Sense Irrigation Controller rebate program.

Regionally we have presented this program to other communities through events such as a Municipal Water Conservation Field Day hosted by the Kansas Water Office, conference presentations at the annual Kansas Section American Water Works Association Conference, and the National Groundwater Management District Association summer conference in Salt Lake City, Utah.

This year our local groundwater management district applied to and received funding from the United States Bureau of Reclamation to use the Customer Water Use Report and apply it to irrigation farming in Finney County, Kansas, as part of a pilot project. The City will assist the groundwater management district in designing and compiling the report using data they acquire from the Kansas Geological Survey.

What is the timeline for implementation of the program?

The program was conceived in 2016, and the first reports were sent to customers in spring 2017. The reports are now an annual tradition and are sent to customers each year, typically in April or May.

What is the service area for the program (i.e., population size and/or geographic area)?

The City of Garden City has a population of 31,649, and we serve 7,567 residential meters and 1,034 commercial/institutional meters.

What are the costs associated with the program?

The City spends approximately $7,000 each year for staff work to compile report and for postage expenses.