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Aurora saves ~21MM Gallons of Water Through Free Water Fixture Replacement for Low-Income Households

Aurora, CO, USA
The Atlas Community Team
In Collaboration With
WaterNow Alliance

Government Champion

City Council

Cost

Initial:
242 Thousand USD

Project Status

Operational since 2022

At a Glance

To encourage further resident participation in water conservation programs, the City of Aurora administered a free high-efficiency water fixture replacement program for low-income households. Since 2012, the city has saved an estimated 21.1 million gallons (~65 acre-feet) through the program.

Problem Addressed

As the third-largest city in Colorado, Aurora has a rapidly growing population. While meeting the future water needs of the community will eventually require water supply expansion, the city's current goals revolve around water conservation.

The city has developed several conservation programs to educate and encourage water conservation, including rebates for installing new high-efficiency water fixtures. Even after the city produced clear evidence of water bill savings with the new fixtures, participation from low-income households was low. Low participation can be attributed to potential lack of financial stability to purchase products upfront and high up-front installation costs ineligible for rebates, issues that are traditionally representative of rebate reimbursement programs

Aurora knew that in order to promote water conservation community-wide, the city needed to remove barriers preventing low-income households from adopting modern, high-efficiency water fixtures.

The City of Aurora used/is using a free high-efficiency water fixture replacement program to address this/these challenge(s).

Solution(s) Used

Aurora created The Aurora Water Low-Income Water Efficiency Program (LIWEP) in 2011 to help low-income households become more water-efficient by replacing old fixtures with new, high-efficiency models. The city conducted the project in partnership with the non-profit Mile High Youth Corps (MHYC) which enlists youth to learn hands-on job skills while serving in their communities. In addition to aiding low-income households, the program also serves nonprofit buildings.

To qualify for LIWEP, participants had to be Aurora Water customers who owned their home and had a household income 60% or less than the median income in Aurora. Members of LIWEP would provide an in-home assessment of inefficient fixtures. For participants that qualify, the project replaces up to two toilets, two showerheads, and three faucet aerators with water-saving versions. MHYC would then install the new fixtures.

To generate interest and spread the word about the program, Aurora increased marketing to reach low-income communities, utilizing direct mail and printed collaterals for its neighborhood liaisons.

In 2013, Aurora and MHYC took steps to further eliminate obstacles to household participation by incorporating the database of Colorado’s Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) for income qualifications and outreach. This allowed Aurora customers who were LEAP recipients to automatically become income-qualified for the LIWEP.

Outcomes

  1. The city has saved an estimated 21.1 million gallons (~65 acre-feet) of water since 2012
  2. The city has installed 950 high-efficiency toilets, showerheads, and faucet aerators in low-income households
  3. Since 2012, 339 residential and commercial customers have participated in the program.
  4. Aurora created opportunities for members of the non-profit Mile High Youth Corps (MHYC) to serve their communities by installing the new fixtures.
  5. The program generated interest in water-efficient behaviors and enabled water savings for Aurora residents

Who Should Consider?

Cities or towns looking to eliminate financial barriers to participation in programs that benefit the entire community.

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