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On the Money: The Best Water-Saving Program You've Never Heard Of

Jennifer V. Hughes in Legal/Financial

Clinton Hill, 345 Clinton Avenue, Brooklyn

Water Leak Survey and Water Conservation

It works like this: once you contact the city to arrange a water leak survey – it takes about two weeks to schedule an audit – technicians from Honeywell, the company with a city contract to do the audits, will eventually come to the building (you should have your superintendent or someone from the managing agent work with them).

The technicians evaluate the common area water usages (laundry, gym, boiler) and also look at water use by commercial tenants. When it comes to individual units, technicians must be able to access at least 70 percent of the apartments. The workers look at toilets, showerheads, and faucets in kitchens and baths.

That's No Small Drip

Between 50 and 70 percent of water use in a household comes from the bathroom and the number-one water hog is the toilet. Old toilets can use between 3.5 and 7 gallons of water per flush (new toilets are required to use only 1.6 gallons).

But the big problem comes from leaks and that can happen even if you don't hear the toilet running all the time. Leaking toilets can waste a stunning amount, from 10 to 2,000 gallons per day.

After the water audit, the building gets a detailed report of how much water is being wasted, and which units have the problems. In the case of Clinton Hill, it turned out that a small number of units had problems that were causing the leaks. For example, at one of the buildings, 345 Clinton Avenue, only 27 of the 112 units had problems with toilets, faucets, and showers, but the total amount of waste was 6.3 million gallons per year.

Conserving Water, Conserving Cash

After the audits at Clinton Hill were done, management fixed the problems at some units by installing proper flappers and faucet heads. Also at Clinton Hill, the audit revealed that several ground-floor commercial tenants were using a large amount of water, so the co-op decided to install separate meters and then have their water management company bill them directly for their water use.

Residents did not see a sudden slash in their maintenance charges, where the water bill would have been reflected, but they still saw savings, Greenbaum says. "In the long run, it kept the maintenance costs level." He adds: "Wasting water is bad for the environment and it's also wasting money. The program is a win-win."


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