At least 485 water efficiency projects in California are ready to go, and will create jobs and improve clean water supplies, according to a quick survey conducted by the Alliance for Water Efficiency. The projects, which provide a sample of water efficiency projects throughout the state include retrofitting plumbing fixtures and irrigation systems, upgrading water meters, and planting water-wise plants and other vegetation to decrease wasteful water use.

American Rivers and the Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE) are calling for at least 20% of all drinking water infrastructure funding to be dedicated as grants for water efficiency capital projects to create jobs, boost the economy, and ensure adequate clean water supply for the future.

An economic analysis conducted by AWE estimates that total economic output per million dollars of investment in water efficiency programs is between $2.5 and $2.8 million. It estimates that a direct investment of $1 billion in water efficiency programs can boost U.S. employment by 15,000 to 22,000 jobs.

Water efficiency is far cheaper than building new dams and expanding reservoirs, up to 8500 times more cost-effective, at only $0.46 – $250 per 1000 gallons while new dam construction costs $4000 for the same amount of capacity.

“There is a hidden reservoir waiting to be tapped in California. Investing in these water efficiency projects will boost water supplies and create good jobs,” said Betsy Otto, vice president of strategic partnerships at American Rivers. “With California’s severe water shortages adding to economic uncertainty across the state, the time for water efficiency investments is now.”

“Water efficiency is the cheapest and smartest way to manage and stretch our existing water supplies for economic growth. And nearly 20% of California’s electricity is used to pump and treat water, so using water more efficiently also reduces greenhouse gases,” said Mary Ann Dickinson, Executive Director at the Alliance for Water Efficiency.

The Alliance for Water Efficiency compiled a list of examples of water efficiency projects in 11 states, including 566 projects totaling more than $2.3 billion that are ready to go within six months.

Water efficiency means using water more wisely — by fixing leaks, replacing old appliances and fixtures, and taking other common sense steps in our homes, businesses and communities.

“Water efficiency isn’t about telling people to shower just once a week, or to plant a cactus in their front yards,” said Otto. “It’s about improving our infrastructure to stop leaks, reduce the water we use for each task, protect healthy rivers, and create long-term benefits for our water supplies and communities.”