Those Water Leaks Can Be Pricey

water leak wideWater providers around the country routinely communicate to their customers the amount of water that can be lost unnecessarily by small, continual water leaks that result from dripping faucets/showerheads, broken toilets, holes in a sprinkler system, etc.

The EPA’s WaterSense website estimates that “the amount of water leaked from U.S. homes could exceed more than 1 trillion gallons per year. That’s equivalent to the annual water use of Los Angeles, Chicago, and Miami combined.”

Other interesting leak facts from WaterSense:

  • Leaks can account for, on average, 10,000 gallons of water wasted in the home every year, which is enough to fill a backyard swimming pool.
  • 10% of homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons or more per day.

The Truckee Meadows Water Authority documented a toilet leak that used 240,000 gallons in a single month.  That’s enough to fill 75 construction water trucks.

Communicating in Terms Customers Can Understand

Describing leaks in terms of the number of gallons of water lost is useful but only if your customers have a context for what their water usage is or should be.  You’d be hard pressed to find a person who can tell you that the average monthly indoor usage for a person is about 2,000-3,000 gallons of water.  If you tell customers a silent leak will lose 7,000 gallons of water in a month, unless they have a frame of reference, it’s not as meaningful as it could be.

Thanks to complicated pricing tiers, service fees, taxes and other charges that show up on a water bill, it’s difficult for a homeowner to tell you the price of a gallon of water.  Everyone, however, knows the price of a gallon of gas.

So if you want to have maximum impact in your “pay attention and fix water leaks” campaigns, convert the losses created by different leaks into an estimated price.  This helps customers better understand how little water losses that happen over an extended period of time can be very costly.

We estimated the cost of different sized leaks for two Colorado water providers.  We assumed the indoor usage was 6,000 gallons per month.  Here’s what we found:

Type of Leak Cost – Denver Water Cost – Colorado Springs Utilities
Silent leak (7,000 gals.) $42.15 $71.06
1/16in. leak (25,000 gals.) $131.32 $220.35
Toilet flapper leak (86,400 gals.) $701.52 $776.16

Linking a price to the size of a leak will help your customers understand the importance of identifying and fixing leaks quickly.


Have you Considered Water Budget-Based Rates?