Water Conservation for Property Owners

Water is our most important natural resource. We all know that we should conserve water, but as landlords should we spend hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars just to do our part in conservation? Spending this money for this reason alone is hard to justify.
But conserving water in your rental properties also makes good business sense. As Manchester landlords know, our water bills are high and our sewer treatment bills are outrageous. The Union Leader recently reported that the City of Manchester and the Federal Government have reached an agreement where Manchester will spend $58 million dollars to separate rainwater runoff from the wastewater from homes. This expenditure is needed to satisfy the Federal EPA Clean Water Laws. This cost will be paid for by an increase in wastewater fees and it's estimated the increase will be 400%!!!! This means if your quarterly sewer bill is currently $400, it will increase to $1600!! This should be enough incentive for you to do something about conserving water.

The most important thing you can do is replace your present toilets with new water-saving units. (It's estimated that toilets comprise 38% of total water usage.) The old two-piece toilets with the wall mounted tanks are the biggest water users at about 5 gallons per flush, not including water usage due to faulty parts. More modern toilets use about 3 ½ gallons per flush, while the newest toilets only use 1.6 gallons per flush! The Kohler Wellworth model is the highest rated toilet and my tenants have been satisfied with its operation. The new toilets have the same water-feed pipe, the same bolt pattern on the floor, and use a wax ring just like the old toilets. These toilets are available for approximately $100 at Home Depot.

If you have old bathroom sinks with separate hot and cold water faucets, turn both faucets wide open and stand back. The sink fills up so quickly that it doesn't drain. Replace them with sinks that have a single-spout faucet and a 2 gallon-per-minute aerator. Now, turn on the hot and cold faucets and note the difference!

Here are some water-saving tips:
· Replace your showerheads with 2-gallon-per-minute showerheads.
· Make sure you have a 2 gallon-per-minute aerator on your kitchen faucet also.
· Limit water use by using specific wording in your lease.
· Prohibit car washing and the filling of "not-so-portable" swimming pools.
· Remove outdoor water spigots.
· Set up coin-operated washers and dryers in a basement or first-floor laundry room.
· Prohibit washing machines in apartments -this way if the tenants are going to use the water at least you'll get paid for it.

I have a 21-unit apartment house. Before I replaced toilets, showerheads, etc. my quarterly water bill was $550 and sewer bills were over $1,000. After making these changes to just 8 apartments, my water bill dropped to $250 the next quarter and my sewer bill dropped to $583! As you can see, the payback period is immediate. When the increased sewer bills take effect the savings will be even greater. Obviously the question is not "Can you afford to make these improvements?" It's "Can you afford NOT to?"