Water Use
Efficiency Program

Joe Stump, P.E., Utilities Manager

Office Hours: M - F, 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Accounting Office: 574-2290
Engineering Office: 574-2300


The water use efficiency program includes the following items:

  • Description of current water conservation program.
  • Description of WUE goals that support the program and how the goals were established.
  • Evaluation of WUE measures for cost-effectiveness.
  • Description of WUE measures to be implemented to meet established goals for the next six years.
  • Description of how we will educate customers to use water efficiently.
  • Estimated water savings from selected WUE measures
  • Description of how we will evaluate the effectiveness of the WUE program.
  • Evaluation of distribution system leakage.
  • A water loss control action plan if the distribution system leakage exceeds the leakage standard.
  • Evaluation of rate structures that encourage water demand efficiency.
  • Evaluation of reclaimed water opportunities.
  • Description of water supply characteristics.

Current Water Conservation Program

Yakima County’s current water conservation program includes:

  • Collecting daily source meter readings and monthly service meter readings.
  • Billing customers based on an inclining block rate structure for all customer classes.
  • Notifying customers when an unusually large water bill is discovered or when the meter leak detector indicates a possible leak.
  • Assisting customers in determining if they have a leak by explaining how to use the leak detector on the meter and in using leak detection equipment on their service line if needed.
  • Providing water conservation brochures at the Accounting Division’s front counter and occasionally including water conservation tips in mailings.
  • Conducting leak surveys
  • Replacing old service meters when the opportunity arises.


The percentage savings goal for implementing the conservation program was 5% based on average day and peak month demands per single-family residential connections calculated from source of supply meter readings.  The goal was included in the 2001 Water System Plan.  Estimated average day and peak month demands from the Plan for single-family customers without separate irrigation were 600 gpd and 1,500 gpd respectively.  Average day and peak month demands with separate irrigation were 300 and 500 gpd per connection respectively. 

Water saved as a result of the above program has been mixed.  In the last 6-years, average day and peak month demands per single-family residence in the Terrace Heights area were down 6% and 4% respectively less than in previous years, based on consumption records.  Over the same time period, average day demands per single-family residence in the Country Club area remained constant, while peak month demands increased 4% (based on consumption records).  Supply records showed a 16% increase in average day demands and a 27% increase in peak month demands, indicating a possible increase in system leakage. 

WUE Goals

Water use efficiency goals are intended to help conserve water for future generations and meet the State’s new distribution system leakage standard.  The County’s proposed water use efficiency goals for the Terrace Heights Water System include:

  1. Reduce distribution system leakage to less than 10 percent based on a 3-year rolling average within the next 6-year planning period.
  2. Reduce average day and peak month demands per single-family residence by 3 percent based on the average of the demands over the next 6-year planning period (2009 – 2014) as compared to the average over the previous 6-year planning period (2003-2008).  Source meter readings will be used to compare reduction in demands if, when the service meters are replaced, it is found that they were the cause of the high distribution system leakage.  If service meters are the cause of the high distribution system leakage, then service meter readings will show an increase in demands per single-family residence.

The County needs to hold a public hearing and adopt water efficiency goals by July 1, 2009.  Prior to holding the hearing the County must make specific information available to the public including the existing WUE program, previous annual WUE reports, supply characteristics, water demand forecasts, and a summary of any comments received about the  proposed goals.

Examples of water use efficiency goals listed in Appendix I of the Department of Health’s Water Use Efficiency Guidebook are as follows:

Examples of Water Use Efficiency Goals

  • Reduce average day demand per connection from 310 gallons to 260 gallons in 5 years.
  • Reduce daily use per person from 100 gallons to 70 gallons in 10 years.
  • Reduce water production per person, on an average annual basis, from 250 gallons per day to 230 gallons per day within 6 years.
  • Save 100,000 gallons per day, on an average annual basis, at full implementation of the conservation program in 6 years.
  • Reduce average 3rd-tier residential water consumption per customer by 15 percent by 2013.
  • Reduce seasonal outdoor water use by 2 to 3 percent by December 31, 2010.
  • Save 5 gallons per family home per day by 2014.
  • Reduce single-family residential water consumption by 25 gallons per day (gpd) per home by 2014.
  • Reduce per connection use by 7 percent by 2010.
  • By 2015, reduce consumption per equivalent residential unit (ERU) from 495 to 415 gpd/ERU.
  • Reduce consumption by 20 percent for the highest 10 percent water users in our single-family class customers by 2012.
  • Reduce seasonal summer demand by 25 gallons per day for residential customers within the next 6 years.
  • Reduce total production from our wells by 5 percent within 6 years.
  • Maintain daily per capita consumption at 65 gallons per person per day for the next 2 years (justification required for maintaining consumption levels (see WAC 246-290-830(3) and Section 7.5).
  • Reduce regional consumption by 1 percent at the end of 3 years (based on a regional program goal).


Evaluation of Water Efficiency Measures

Measures that must be evaluated for the WUE rule include:

  • Rates that encourage water demand efficiency, and
  • Reclamation opportunities.

These two required measures are described later in this Chapter.  In addition to the required measures, a minimum of five other WUE measures must be evaluated or implemented for a system the size of Terrace Heights.  To satisfy this requirement, the County intends to implement the WUE measures described below.

WUE Measures to be Implemented

Yakima County has already implemented several WUE measures.  One such measure is the implementation of a conservation rate structure. Because the WUE rule only requires that conservation rates be evaluated, implementing a conservation rate structure counts as one of the other five WUE measures that must be evaluated.  In addition, the WUE rule allows measures to be counted as multiple measures if they are applied to different customer classes.  Consequently, because the County implemented an inclining block rate structure for single-family, multi-family, commercial, education and government customer classes, it counts as five conservation measures

An additional measure already implemented is the notification of customers when they have an unusually high water bill that may be due to a leak.  As an added incentive, the County currently provides an adjustment in the customer’s bill for 50% of the estimated leakage if the customer repairs the leak as soon as possible after it is discovered. 

Yakima County is investigating the feasibility of showing consumptive history on their water bills.  Like conservation rates, a bill showing consumption history counts as multiple measures if it applies to multiple customer classes.  The County has contacted the manufacturer of their billing system software to obtain examples of bills containing consumptive history and a cost. 

In addition to the measures above, WUE measures that must be implemented include:

  • Installing source and service meters
  • Performing meter calibration
  • Implementing a water loss control action plan to control leakage
  • Educating customers about water use efficiency practices.


Source and service meters have been installed with the exception of one service for Fire District No. 4 on Commonwealth Drive and a service to Well #4.  The County plans to have these services metered by June of 2009.  Source meters have been installed since before the County assumed ownership of the system in the 1990’s.

Meter calibration has been limited to testing a small number of service meters.  Meters tested were within standards.  Source meters have not been tested.  Meters for Wells 2 and 3 are approximately 15 years old, the meters for Wells 4 and 5 are approximately 10-years old, and the meter for Well 6 is approximately 25-years old.  Testing of the source meters and replacement of older service meters is included in the “Water Loss Control Action Plan” described below.  The County should develop a process and timeline for inspecting, testing, calibrating, and replacing meters as recommended by the manufacturer.  The American Water Work’s Association manual entitled “Water Meters-Selection, Installation, Testing, and Maintenance (M6)” is one possible source for developing the program.


Customer Education

The WUE rule requires the County to educate their customers about the importance of using water efficiently.  The County will provide water conservation tips in their annual consumer confidence report and in at least one of the customers monthly water bills.  Appendix J of the Department of Health’s Water Use Efficiency Guidebook  has good water conservation tips.  A conservation tip could be added each month to the water bills to provide additional customer education.  Water conservation brochures are also available from the Department of Health’s website.

Estimated Water Savings

The projected water savings from the selected WUE measures are difficult to estimate and measure.  Some of the measures, such as conservation rates, notifying property owners of an unusually high water bills, and installing source and service meters have already been implemented.  Projected water savings from new measures, including showing consumptive water use and conservation tips on the water bills is expected to be less than 3%.  Savings this small can be difficult to measure, particularly when weather variations alone can have a much larger impact on demands.  Conducting a leak survey and repairing leaks could save 5 -10%.  Calibrating source meters and installing new service meters will not result in water savings but it could reduce distribution system leakage by 5 – 10%. 

WUE Program Effectiveness Evaluation

Yakima County will evaluate the effectiveness of the WUE program each year by calculating distribution system leakage and demands per single-family residence and comparing to prior years.  The program will be amended as needed if reductions in distribution system leakage or demands are not seen.

Distribution System Leakage

A summary of distribution system leakage was presented in Table 3-13.  As shown, distribution system leakage for the last 3 years has averaged 20 percent.  This is believed to be mostly due to inaccurate service meters, as many of the County Club service meters are very old.  The County intends to replace the meters as part of a project to implement an automated drive-by meter reading system. 

Testing is also needed to confirm the accuracy of the supply meters.

Water Loss Control Action Plan

Because the rolling three-year average distribution system leakage is greater than 10-percent, a water loss control action plan is needed.  Systems with distribution system leakage between 20 and 29 percent must:

  • Assess data accuracy.
  • Assess data collection methods and errors.
  • Implement field activities to reduce leakage within 12 months.

Furthermore, the water loss control action plan must include:

  • Water loss control methods to be implemented
  • An estimate of how long it will take to achieve the distribution system leakage standard.
  • A budget that demonstrates how we will pay for controlling the leakage.
  • Any technical or economic concerns that will prevent us from complying with the standard.

Inaccurate supply meters are not considered a likely source of the high distribution system leakage.  All of the meters are relatively new and the readings are in line with the expected pumping capacity. 

Service meter accuracy is considered a possible source of the high distribution system leakage.  Some of the meters have been checked and were found to be within acceptable ranges.  However, many of the Country Club meters are well over 20-years old and are likely inaccurate and in need of replacement.

Water usage from fire hydrants is considered another source of the high DSL.  In more recent years, Yakima County has placed greater emphasis on metering consumption from fire hydrants and now owns 4 hydrant meters to rent out to contractors.  Yakima County will continue to emphasize the importance of metering hydrant usage.

A leak survey was completed in 2008 in the older part of the system that identified five minor leaks.  Two of the leaks were repaired and the others are being monitored.  A leak survey was done on the remainder of the system in 2009 and two small leaks were found.  One leak is a hydrant that needs to be repaired and the other is a small leak that is also being monitored.  A 2” flow meter to the Polly Lane apartments was found to be not registering low flows. 

Water loss control methods planned include:

  1. Check source meter calibration in 2009.  Estimated cost is $5,000.
  2. Begin implementing an automated meter reading system by 2010.  Install the meters over a period of 3 years and complete the installation by the end of 2012. Estimated cost is $120,000 in the first year and $140,000 each year thereafter.

The County has established a goal of meeting the distribution system leakage standard of 10-percent beginning in 2013.  Additional time will be required if meeting the standard requires replacement of water lines.

There are no known technical concerns that will prevent us from complying with the standard, but economics are a concern.  Meeting the distribution system standard will cost an estimated $400,000.  If mains need to be replaced, then the cost could increase dramatically.  Costs for meeting the distribution leakage standard are included in the Financial Program in Chapter 11. 

Rate Structure Evaluation

One of the measures that must be evaluated is a rate structure that encourages water demand efficiency.  Yakima County first implemented an inclining block rate structure in 1994 to encourage efficiency.  Current consumption rates start out at $1.18 per 100 cubic feet for the first 1,000 cubic feet, then increase to $1.32 per 100 cubic feet for the second 1,000 cubic feet, and then increase to $1.45 per 100 cubic feet for all consumption over 2,000 cubic feet.  The rate structure is the same for all customer classes.

Reclaimed Water Opportunities

The WUE rule requires the County to collect information on reclaimed water opportunities and include that information in the water plan.  As a minimum, the information should include:

  • Where reclaimed water could potentially be used, such as parks, golf courses, groundwater recharge facilities, and car washing facilities.
  • Where reclaimed water production facilities exist and the locations of reclaimed water distribution lines.
  • Any barriers to the use of reclaimed water, such as cost, permitting issues, water rights mitigation, and local regulations that govern the use of reclaimed water.
  • Contractual obligations and agreements that limit the use of reclaimed water.
  • Where reclaimed water is used or proposed to be used. 
  • The County’s efforts to develop the use of reclaimed water.

There are currently no water reuse facilities, either sources or users, within the Terrace Heights service area and the number of potential sources is very limited. There is only one industrial/commercial process facility in the area and they use their own well water for their processes.  There are no fish hatcheries, storm water impoundments, or sewage treatment facilities in the service area.  The most likely places where reclaimed water could be used include a golf course and a cemetery. 

The only known barrier to the use of reclaimed water is the cost.  Without a nearby source, the cost to pipe reclaimed water would be high.  There are no contractual obligations or agreements that limit the use of reclaimed water.  The County has not pursued development of reclaimed water due to the limited sources and cost. 

Water Supply Characteristics

The Terrace Heights Water System includes six supply wells.  Wells 2, 4, 5 and 6 draw from the Ellensburg formation, which consists of semi-consolidated deposits of clay, silt, sand and gravel.  Well 3 draws from the Saddle Mountain formation in the Yakima Basalt aquifer, which underlies the Ellensburg formation, and Well 1 draws from a perched aquifer on Yakima Ridge.  Information regarding each well, including capacity, was included in Chapter 2. 

The U.S. Geological Survey is conducting a detailed study of the ground water sources in the Yakima River Basin.  According to USGS, preliminary results of the study indicate water levels are relatively stable in the Terrace Heights area (Township 13 Range 19).  USGS’s data shows a few wells with 5’ of decline.  East of Terrace Heights in the Moxee Valley, declines in the ground water level increase.  Township 13 Range 20, which is six miles to the east of Terrace Heights, has some wells with declines of 40 to 50-feet in the Saddle Mountain and Wanapum aquifers.  In Township 13 Range 21, the declines are worse.  According to USGS, the declines are primarily in the basalt and deeper Ellensburg wells (wells over 1000’), although they also claim the bottom of the Ellensburg can be course grain and very productive.  The upper Ellensburg formations are recharged in part by irrigation and irrigation canals and are not experiencing the declines seen in the basalt wells.

According to USGS, water levels decline in the basalts during drought years due to increased pumping from irrigators with junior Water Resources Division rights.  During drought years, irrigators with junior Water Resources Division rights resort to using their groundwater wells. 

Wells to the north along Yakima Ridge are also experiencing declines.  This is said to be due to the wells being located along the anticline of the ridge rather along the syncline of the valley.  The Terrace Heights Well #2 is an example of this.  This well has experienced 50’ of decline since it was drilled.  In the last 10-years, the decline has stabilized.

Seasonal variations do not have an impact on the ability of the Terrace Heights wells to meet demands.