In FY 06-07, City operations used approximately 550 million gallons of water. Since then, water use has dropped by one-half, to approximately 300 million gallons per year.
This drop is due to a combination of water conservation efforts in Portland’s parks, weather demands, maintenance improvements in city-owned buildings, LEED certification and the green building policy.
An ongoing downward trend in water use in not predicted. In fact, there may be years in the future when water use exceeds 2006 levels. Climate change models for the Pacific Northwest predict hotter drier summers, which will increase demand on water supplies.
The growth of Portland’s population also will put demands on existing and new City facilities and infrastructure, like parks, community centers and restrooms.
Water use in City operations
Portland Parks and Recreation has made consistent efforts to install weather-based, centrally controlled irrigation systems in parks. Eighty parks currently use the controls which include localized weather stations and soil moisture sensors. Each newly developed park is equipped with the necessary components to monitor and manage the irrigation systems, replenishing only water required for landscaping needs. Additionally, park staff complete annual inspections, tuning up the irrigation systems to maintain overall efficiencies.
With eleven LEED certified buildings and thirty-eight Sustainability at Work-certified work sites, water conservation is well integrated into City operations. Keeping abreast of new technologies, weather patterns and keeping staff engaged will all contribute to successfully maintaining progress toward this goal.