Water is the most important natural resource, yet many customers are unaware of the benefits of conserving it. Over the past two decades, more than 50% of the United States regularly experienced drought conditions due to the water supply running low.

As water conservation concerns grow, now is the time for water utilities to connect with customers and explain the reasons to conserve water.

“With monthly rates continuing to rise and the water supply running dangerously low in many parts of the country, there has never been a more critical time for water utilities to proactively communicate with their customers,” said Andrew Heath, Senior Director of Utilities Intelligence at J.D. Power in a recent press release.

Share the Facts About Water Conservation

Many customers don’t pay attention to their water consumption or realize the strong impact that water conservation efforts could have on both their daily lives and their communities. It’s up to utilities to share that essential information.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Americans use around 82 gallons of water every day in their homes.

To pique customers’ interest, utilities should share facts about water conservation. For example, many customers may not know that turning off the tap while brushing their teeth can save 8 gallons of water per day. Or, if saving water isn’t enough, focus on saving money. Sharing how much a customer could save off their bills by conserving water or making efficient upgrades can do wonders to capturing their attention.

When customers understand the reasons to conserve water, and how it directly impacts their communities, the environment and their health, they are more likely to make a conscious effort to participate.

As a trusted source of information, there are many ways a utility can communicate facts about water conservation. For example, your utility can share an infographic explaining how water conservation goes hand-in-hand with reducing monthly bills and preserving a limited community resource, or an educational fact sheet about how saving water helps maintain water quality.

Consider communicating facts about water conservation through:

  • Newsletters
  • Short-form videos
  • Infographics
  • Educational fact sheets
  • Webinars
  • Community events
  • Social media

Compelling Reasons to Conserve Water

In addition to presenting facts about water conservation, it’s also important to communicate the benefits of conserving water so customers understand how it directly impacts them. Some of customers’ biggest motivators include:

  • Financial savings: It’s no secret that customers are motivated by money; they want to save on costs and reduce their monthly water bills. By highlighting the potential cost savings, they are more likely to engage with your utility’s conservation messaging and participate in water-saving efforts.
  • Community impact: Some customers may be driven by the desire to benefit their own community. This is especially true if their utility is a municipal or cooperative, as community engagement is already a proven priority. To reach these customers, share the impact they can make on their community by conserving water.
  • Sustainability focus: Many customers value sustainability and want to implement sustainable practices into their daily lives. Showing customers how their actions, like reducing water waste and usage, directly contribute to a healthier environment, can make them feel more empowered to reduce their water footprint.

Actionable Strategies for Conserving Water

Once your utility has helped customers understand the reasons to conserve water, it’s important to give them actionable strategies for how to do so. Again, education is key. Don’t assume that customers already know how to save water. It’s important to provide them with achievable water-saving tactics, including:

  • Being mindful of household leaks: Do your customers know that household leaks are one of the main causes for water waste? In fact, the average family wastes around 180 gallons per week, or 9,400 gallons of water annually. Connecting this fact to how much money customers are spending encourages them to pay more attention to leaks. Additionally, use this knowledge gap to provide customers with tips and tricks to detect and address leaks.
  • Installing water-efficient fixtures and appliances: Installing water-efficient products can help customers use at least 20% less water. As their trusted resource, customers look to you to guide them about the best products to purchase and upgrades to make within their homes. If your utility has a marketplace, promote your water efficiency items to customers and direct them to other rebates or incentives.
  • Reducing outdoor irrigation system usage: Nearly 30% of household water use is devoted to the outdoors, and 50% of the water used outdoors is lost due to wind, evaporation, and runoff caused by inefficient irrigation methods and systems, according to the EPA. Use this as an opportunity to educate customers on the benefits of using timers, sensors and checking for outdoor leaks often. Depending on your utility’s location, this could be a great opportunity to share additional resources pertaining to your specific climate or environment.

By educating customers about the importance and benefits of water conservation, as well as providing practical tips for water-saving practices, your utility can empower customers to take control of their water usage.

How to Promote the Benefits of Conserving Water

Although we live in a digital age, it’s important to connect with customers across all channels and mediums. The San Jose Water Company does just this by hosting in-person community events, school programs and civic presentations to educate its community about water conservation.

Its in-person events are an effective way to get the community to understand the power of preserving water resources and offer customers an opportunity to ask questions or share their challenges. Additionally, the school programs help kids start thinking about their role in helping to save water and encourage them to bring water conservation ideas and tips home to their families.

The utility even hosts “Water Appreciation Nights” at local football and baseball games, furthering the reach of their conservation messaging.

Additionally, the utility offers CATCH, a free program where customers can sign up for a water efficiency expert to visit their homes. This expert will help identify leaks and will recommend individualized water and money-saving improvements. By making water conservation accessible for its customers in many unique ways, the San Jose Water Company is able to connect with its customers and share the facts and benefits of saving water.

The Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (LADWP) also actively promotes water conservation to its customers and offers a comprehensive range of resources aimed at educating them about the reasons to conserve water and methods to do so effectively.

LADWP offers a wide array of educational resources for customers, including free workshops through its outdoor landscaping academy, Los Angeles Outdoor Landscape Academy (LAOLA). LAOLA aims to educate customers on sustainable landscaping strategies such as turf removal, water-efficient irrigation and groundwater infiltration.

Additionally, the utility offers rebates and incentive programs that encourage efficient water use and sustainable landscaping for residential and business customers, including rebates for appliances and irrigation equipment. Customers can also take advantage of free water conservation equipment, like faucet aerators, showerheads and toilet leak detection dye tablets.

These water conservation efforts can go a long way. In fact, L.A.’s current per capita water is among one of the lowest in any major U.S. city.

Show Your Utility Customers the Benefits of Conserving Water

Water conservation is a collective effort, requiring effort from utilities and their customers. Utilities must be willing to work diligently to educate customers about the benefits of conserving water. In doing so, utilities will encourage and empower its customers to be active participants in preserving this important community resource. Together, utilities and customers can share the load in reducing water usage.

Communicate the facts about water conservation to your utility’s customers with an engagement solution from Questline Digital.

Communicating to water customers is essential to build trust, loyalty and greater awareness about water conservation and safety. For water utility marketers, communications require a unique mix of transparent information, reliable resources and customer education.

Most customers don’t think about their water until they receive their monthly bill or experience a service disruption. By connecting with customers beyond these scenarios, water utilities can build stronger customer relationships.

Proactive Outreach Increases Water Customer Satisfaction

Even in an environment of rising rates, water utilities have experienced greater customer satisfaction. J.D. Power’s latest U.S. Water Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Survey found that overall customer satisfaction with water utilities rose 3 points (on a 1,000-point scale) even with bill increases.

Proactive communications were the main factor for greater customer satisfaction. Utilities were communicating to water customers throughout the year about pricing, quality, safety and supply topics.

“With monthly rates continuing to rise and the water supply running dangerously low in many parts of the country, there has never been a more critical time for water utilities to proactively communicate with their customers about what they are doing to protect our drinking water today and into the future,” Andrew Heath, Senior Director of Utilities Intelligence at J.D. Power, said in a news release.

What Are the Most Important Water Utility Topics?

From infrastructure projects to water conservation initiatives, utilities have important information they need to share with customers. Following the best water utility communication practices means prioritizing the key topics to share with their customers.

Important water utility topics include:

  1. Quality and safety
  2. Conservation
  3. Reliability
  4. Bill assistance

1. Water quality and safety

Today’s consumers may be skeptical about the quality of their tap water. For water utilities, misconceptions about tap water safety and quality can be significant challenges to overcome. Plus, there are more alternative water options than ever before, such as bottled water and in-store water purification machines.

When communicating to water customers, utilities should be transparent about water treatment processes, quality testing and other quality control measures. Water utilities can build trust with customers by sharing step-by-step processes and water quality reports.

2. Water conservation

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Americans use around 82 gallons of water every day in their homes. One of the best water utility communication practices is providing educational resources to help customers reduce their water usage.

Water conservation requires customers to be active participants. Utilities are looking to both residential and business customers to help prevent water shortages in the future.

These conservation efforts include reducing outdoor irrigation system usage, being mindful of household leaks and installing water-efficient fixtures and appliances. In fact, installing water-efficient products can help customers use at least 20% less water.

When communicating to water customers about water conservation, water utilities need to capture attention with eye-catching visuals, easy-to-understand messaging and clear call-to-actions.

3. Water reliability

Customers want to be assured that their water service is reliable, now and in the future. Water utility communication practices related to reliability can bring peace of mind, whether resources on conversation measures, treatment capabilities, or infrastructure improvements.

Water utilities across the country are communicating to water customers about improvements to drinking water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure. This is especially important for parts of the country with aging infrastructure.

In regions where water supply may be a concern, water utilities must communicate city initiatives to prevent water shortages and ensure long-term water reliability.

4. Water bill assistance

Another focus area for water utilities is communicating to customers in need about financial assistance options. In the same way that electric and natural gas utilities provide assistance resources, water utilities also need to focus on helping customers facing financial hardship.

Water utility communication practices might include email campaigns that educate customers on assistance programs or text messages that direct low-income customers to online resources. Community events, where utility employees can speak with customers face-to-face about ways to reduce water usage, are also beneficial.

Educating and Engaging with Water Customers

Communicating to water customers can take the form of an educational fact sheet or an entertaining commercial. Keep in mind, many water utility topics can be complicated for customers to understand. It behooves utilities to simplify technical jargon and explain topics in easy-to-understand language.

For example, Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority’s communication team created a “Trust the Tap” marketing campaign to increase awareness about the city’s water quality. The campaign features fact sheets and social media posts with easy-to-understand infographics that highlight each step in the water treatment process. Later this year, the campaign will also include animated videos to educate customers on water quality.

Example of a social media post for communicating to water customers

An essential water utility communication practice to consider is using a multichannel approach to marketing campaigns. Outreach channels could include bill inserts, email marketing, social media and local TV stations.

For example, the Las Vegas Valley Water District, in partnership with the Southern Nevada Water Authority, takes advantage of paid media ad placements centered around water conservation and water quality.

In the Las Vegas area, residential customers must follow mandatory watering restrictions to limit landscape irrigation, as well as prevent water waste on their property. The ads were created to educate customers on:

  • Current and new water conservation measures
  • Why those conservation measures are important
  • How these conservation measures will impact customers
  • What actions customers need to take

The ads employ humor to communicate to water customers about important conservation measures they need to take, such as changing their sprinkler clock and paying attention to seasonal water restrictions. In true Las Vegas fashion, the ads captured attention with their entertaining, eye-catching and comedic style. One ad even featured Vegas Golden Knights hockey player Ryan Reaves.

The Key to Successful Water Customer Communications

Water utilities provide an essential service to their local communities. Educating and engaging communications can motivate customers to take action, whether reducing their water usage or applying for bill assistance. Communicating to water customers can go a long way to increase education on water safety, quality and reliability.

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