Cooper City has exceeded expectations in its water conservation program.

Cooper City Used 9 Percent Less Water in 2010

The Florida city's You Win-We All Win conservation program has exceeded its original goal.

One year ago, Cooper City, Fla., began an intensive, multi-phase water conservation program to achieve 5 percent water reductions by the year 2013. As of Feb. 1, 2011, the city has achieved a 9.26 percent water usage reduction; nearly double its original goal.

“We are thrilled to see the Cooper City residents take such an active role in water conservation, but this is just the beginning,” said Cooper City Utilities Director Mike Bailey. “Our goal is to not only achieve these amazing conservation numbers today, but to sustain them over a long period of time.”

The Cooper City Water Conservation campaign has many phases. The first phase involved a friendly competition between homeowners’ associations to see which HOA could save the most water. The results far exceeded expectations as 12 families saved more than 176,000 gallons of water during a three-month period, with one family alone saving 27,000 gallons of water during that time. Members of the winning team received a WaterOptimizerÒ Smart Irrigation System, which monitors soil moisture to properly maintain landscapes, and the family that saved the most water received a $200 gift card to Home Depot.

The second phase of the campaign focused on several of the largest water users in the city, such as schools and large businesses. Each organization received a water audit of their indoor and outdoor water usage along with a report that outlined the findings and specific tips on how they could reduce water usage. “These water audits were a great way to communicate with these specific users about ways they could reduce their individual water usage, and they were received very positively,” Bailey said.

The third phase of the campaign – currently still ongoing – offers Cooper City residents financial rebates for helping to conserve water in their homes. The program, aptly titled “Rebate, Rebate, Rebate” offers rebates for high-efficiency toilets, rain barrels, sensor irrigation systems, and shallow irrigation wells. Actual rebate amounts range from $30 up to $1,200, depending on the item. Nearly 350 rebates have been awarded to residents through this program.

The final phase of the campaign involves every Cooper City resident. It’s called “Gimme 5” and that is exactly what the city is asking for – five gallons of water saved each day by each resident. To help residents, the city offers some tips.

Inside the Home

  • Toilets are the largest water users with each flush using five gallons of water in older style toilets and one-and-a-half to two gallons in newer models. Avoid unnecessary toilet flushes – dispose of tissues, insects, and other similar waste in the trash, rather than your toilet.
  • Letting the bathroom water faucet run while brushing your teeth or shaving wastes four gallons of water a minute or more. Turn the water off while doing so and save gallons of water several times a day.
  • Adjust the water level in your washing machine and dishwasher to the size of the load you are washing. If you cannot adjust the water level, then only operate these machines when they have full loads.
  • Take shorter showers, or when you are in the shower, turn on the water to get wet, turn off the water to lather up, and then turn the water back on to rinse. Four gallons of water or more is used per minute in the shower.
  • Thaw frozen food in the refrigerator or microwave, not under running water.

Outside the Home

  • Know and follow your community's watering restrictions. Only water when the lawn and landscape need it and not just because it’s the approved watering day.
  • Water the lawn in the morning or late at night to minimize water loss from evaporation and avoid watering on windy days.
  • Ensure sprinkler heads are working properly and are watering the lawn and landscape and not the driveway, house, and other impervious areas.
  • Install a rain sensor switch to override irrigation systems when it’s raining.
  • Do not hose down the driveway or sidewalk. Use a broom to clean leaves and debris from these areas.
  • Use a rain barrel to collect rainwater to water plants.

Preventive Measures

  • To detect toilet leaks, add food coloring to the toilet tank. If a leak exists, the color will appear in the bowl within 30 minutes (flush toilet immediately to avoid stains.)
  • Update the showerhead to a low-flow showerhead, which can reduce water use by up to 50 percent.
  • Water loss from drippy faucets can range from several gallons to hundreds of gallons of water per day. Leaks can be fixed in faucets by replacing washers and by tightening or repacking the faucet stem. Homeowners also may choose to install low-flow faucets or faucet aerators to conserve water. Retrofitting household faucets with low-flow aerators can cut water use by up to 50 percent.
  • Check the water meter when no water is being used. If the meter reading changes, there is a leak. Several good websites give detailed instructions on how to read specific water meters.

“Water conservation is being embraced by the residents of Cooper City, not just because of the importance of conserving this natural resource but also because of the financial savings it brings to those who conserve,” said Bailey. “I am truly amazed by how our residents have embraced water conservation over the last year and I look forward to their continued involvement with the ‘Gimme 5’ campaign.”