Scientists have predicted that higher global average temperatures will mean increasing deviations from the norm in terms of precipitation. More intense weather events, more
intense precipitation events and more and longer periods of drought have already been documented in the Northeast and this less predictable trend is expected to continue.

To ensure adequate local water supplies, communities across NYS should anticipate and prepare for worst-case scenarios. Drought and reductions in potable water can be offset by employing water conservation measures using a range of regulations, codes, and pricing mechanisms.

In addition to protecting water resources, a co-benefit of reducing consumption, water treatment plants and sewage treatment plants consume a large amount of energy so it
follows that reducing water consumption reduces energy consumption. Energy usage is not only expensive for communities but also creates carbon pollution and contributes to climate change.
















Implementation Phases


Optimize building codes and plumbing codes to reduce water consumption.


Institute tiered or volumetric pricing, charging less for less water use, and higher prices with higher use.

Use special ordinances and regulations to restrict certain water uses during drought emergencies. Employ them early in the drought cycle to ensure water supply in case of extended drought.


Enact greywater codes that allow greywater to be used for irrigation.

Retrofit on resale ordinances: Either the seller or the buyer of a building is required to replace inefficient plumbing fixtures—usually toilets, urinals, showerheads, and faucets—with efficient models at the time of resale.

Encourage WaterSense home certification.




Both the general public and local elected officials may resist change to historic practices as well as resist paying more for water. For example, often municipalities charge less for water as more water is used so tiered pricing so that more is charged for higher water consumption could be a reversal of a long term pattern. Change is always time consuming to effect and often contentious.

  • The use of greywater for irrigation requires some modest changes to building water infrastructure that would initially incur costs.
  • Retrofit on resale ordinances would increase costs to either buyers or sellers. It might be easiest to implement during or after a drought.
  • WaterSense certification may be meaningful to only a subset of home or building owners.






Example Municipalities

  • No example municipalities found at this time.


Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Reductions

GHG reduction data not available.






Climate Smart Communities (CSC) & Clean Energy Communities (CEC) Link


This action is also related to several CSC and CEC actions for which you can get points toward certification… 

CSC Actions:


CEC Actions:








There are multiple co-benefits to completing this action, including:

  • Reduced energy consumption by water treatment and sewage plants, which reduces GHGs emitted.
  • Reduced cost of energy to municipalities.
  • Less groundwater is withdrawn which means more water would be available during periods of lower precipitation.



Resources San Luis Obispo, CA has developed a rigorous water conservation plan., The EPA has developed labeling systems and other tools to help communities, businesses and home conserve water. Example retrofit-on-resale ordinances.