Water Conservation Toolbox

Programs for water suppliers

Water utilities across North America save considerable amounts of water through water-efficiency programs. Climate and water availability typically drive the aggressiveness of communities' water conservation programs, with more substantial efforts being made in the southwestern states and Florida. Although these areas may have more significant shortages and more aggressive water use reduction programs, the conservation principles applied there are applicable to all areas regardless of the climate.

The Colorado Water Conservation Board and Aquacraft, Inc. published the Guidebook of Best Practices for Municipal Conservation in Colorado in 2010.

Evaluating water conservation programs

Prospect Park Water Tower

There are several benefits and challenges to the implementation of water conservation programs. The following tools have been developed to assist in the evaluation and selection of water conservation programs. 

NOTE: You need to maximize the workbook once you open it in order to utilize the features of these documents. By maximizing the workbook, you will be able to see the tabs at the bottom.

If you have questions or comments on these tools or any of the information provided in this toolbox, please contact us by email at watersupply@metc.state.mn.us or by phone at 651.602.1000.

Implementing a combination of programs tailored to your community's needs is the most effective way of reducing water use. To assist you in selecting water conservation programs, this Toolbox provides information in the following areas:

See water conservation programs in use today throughout the metropolitan area.

Regulatory programs


Soil preparation requirements

Watering restrictions


Landscaping requirements

Other regulatory programs

Incentive programs

Incentive programs can effectively encourage behavioral changes. For instance, a resident might be more apt to plant a garden with native plants or change a toilet if the materials are discounted. 

Landscape rebates

Water using fixture and/or appliance rebates

Education programs

Evaluating the impact of water conservation education is difficult.  However, providing conservation messages on a regular basis through a variety of approaches (bill stuffers, newsletters, press releases, school outreach) helps to ensure the messages reach a large audience. Minnesota Statute 103G.291 requires that water suppliers have an education program as part of their conservation plan.

Rate structures

Minnesota Statutes, section 103G.291, was amended in 2008 to include a requirement for public water suppliers serving more than 1,000 people to adopt a water rate structure that encourages conservation. For more information on conservation rate structures, visit the Department of Natural Resources website.

A residential rate structure development tool is available here to assist in the development of water conservation rate structures. Rate Structure Tool. This tool focuses on residential use and rates. Suppliers may want to establish different rate structures for commercial, industrial and institutional customers that promote conservation through higher rates for the uses that are above their normal operational needs. 


Separate Irrigation Meter May Reduce Sewer Bill

Billing Frequency & Format Helps Customers Track Their Use

Stormwater reuse

Communities throughout the United States are using stormwater as an alternative water source for irrigation. As the percent of impervious surface throughout the Twin Cities metropolitan area increases, stormwater runoff increases, impacting water quality. Harvesting rainwater and using retention ponds to capture stormwater runoff for subsequent use can reduce the impacts of urban runoff while conserving our water resources. 

If you have comments or questions, please let us know. We will continually update and improve the toolbox based on your input.

E-mail: watersupply@metc.state.mn.us
Phone: 651-602-1000