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It's Great That Americans Are Using Less Water Than Ever—Unless You're a Water Utility

They’re losing sales to efficiency and conservation. Here's how they're making up the cost.
Cars drives by a sign encouraging residents to save water in Rancho Santa Margarita, California.
Cars drives by a sign encouraging residents to save water in Rancho Santa Margarita, California.AP Photo/Chris Carlson

It’s not many industries that encourage customers to buy less of the product they’re selling. But that’s the conundrum water utilities have found themselves in, whether they’re a California agency mandated to reduce water use, or simply any one in the U.S. that’s seen use go down as a result of high-efficiency appliances and fixtures.

“Cities are growing in regards to population, but their water use is decreasing or stabilizing,” says Mike Orth, executive managing director for the Americas at Black & Veatch, a global infrastructure consultancy. “We see that occurring pretty widely across the U.S.”