Drought Could Bring Opportunity for Plumbers

California’s conservation efforts will bring change to residents, and their plumbing.

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With new water conservation regulations on the horizon, the plumbing industry might just find itself entering some interesting territory in California while helping the state’s residents do their part to cut back.

Because the mandate is so new, it’s difficult to know what impact it will have on plumbers, says Horacio Franco, owner of H&R Plumbing in Oakland.

Even so, he says there are a variety of simple measures that homeowners can take to cut back on water use, such as checking their water meter regularly — a quick and easy habit that can provide better awareness of a potential leak that is not only wasting water but also running up the water bill.

Consumers can also use an online calculator provided by the American Water Works Association to estimate just how much water is going to waste with a leaky faucet as each drip adds up over time.

Opportunity Awaits
“Our water reserves are down to somewhere below 15 percent, I believe, statewide,” says Lane Post, president and founder of Arrow Pipeline Repair Inc. and owner of Pacific Drain & Plumbing in Vista, California. “So if we have a hot summer, it’s going to get real interesting.” 

From his perspective, greater awareness of the need for water conservation is an opportunity for those in the trade. The more it’s on the news and in the newspapers, the more often their phones will ring. “We’re going to have to be able to offer some suggestions and be helpful in some manner … What we’ve talked about already is some sort of water conservation inspection as demand increases for it.” 

And the financial element, including the enforcement of tiered payment systems, will likely help spur the desire to make some changes. “Once you start hitting people in the pocketbook you’re going to start getting their attention,” Post says.

Conservation Measures
The growth of water agency rebate programs that encourage low-flow appliances could also place plumbers in a key role. “Perhaps that’s one way that the plumbing industry meets this opportunity — by educating ourselves on the various programs that different municipalities might offer. We can be a conduit to the consumer if the phone rings and they ask questions about this,” Post says. “We can fulfill a rebate program or [install] a restricted irrigator or shower head.” 

His business has already been asked plenty about the possibility of installing graywater systems to capture waste from sinks and showers for secondary use such as watering plants and lawns. It’s a service they can and do offer, but it’s also a more involved process. 

“Like anything else, it comes down to how much time and effort and how much money somebody wants to put into a particular problem,” Post notes. “Some people get more concerned about something like this than others, and others wait until there’s possible fines or a mandate that is actually enforced before they start changing their lifestyle.”


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