Protecting Public Health and the Environment.

Pollution Prevention for Public Water Systems

Public water systems can take many actions to prevent pollution at their facilities, conserve energy, encourage water conservation, and set examples for their customers and communities.


  • Use meters. Source water metering, service-connection metering, and public use water metering are management and conservation tools. Regular metering and audits of water use can help systems forecast demand and identify leaks or other potential problems.
  • Routinely test and calibrate meters to ensure accurate readings.
  • Use appropriate-sized meters. Meters that are too large for a customer's level of use will tend to underregister water use.
  • Establish a leak detection and repair strategy.
  • Explore pricing options for water use that encourage conservation such as cost-of-service or tiered pricing.
  • Pick the right pump for the application. The size and use of a pump may impact its optimum efficiency.
  • Network with other systems to learn about new and different technologies.

Energy Conservation

  • Maintain pump efficiency. Over time, pump efficiency may decrease. Proper maintenance can extend pump life, conserve energy, and minimize energy costs. Changes in the following may indicate a change in efficiency: flow rate, discharge pressure, electrical demand, monthly energy usage, or hours of pump operation.
  • Develop an energy plan. Include long-term goals for energy conservation, building and equipment maintenance, and regular energy audits.
  • Evaluate lighting needs. Remove unnecessary light bulbs, such as those near windows, and in vending machines and other areas with natural or excess lighting.
  • Retrofit lighting. Replace incandescent bulbs with fluorescent ones. Replace T-12 fluorescent bulbs with T-8 bulbs and appropriate ballasts.
  • Install timers on lights.
  • Purchase energy-efficient equipment, such as copiers, fax machines, and computers that power down when not in use.
  • Evaluate heating and cooling systems. Install adjustable thermostats to regulate heating and cooling systems. For optimal energy savings, set thermostats at 78°F for cooling in the summer and 68°F for heating in the winter.
  • Add trees or a berm around buildings to provide shade in the summer and protection against wind in the winter, which lowers heating and cooling costs and saves money.
  • Contact your local utility to request an energy audit of your buildings and obtain solutions to conserve energy.

Waste Management

  • Evaluate your wastes and processes that generate waste. Review billing records, purchase orders, and inventories to track materials needed to make your facility run and the use of those materials. Explore ways to minimize waste through material substitution, process efficiency, or process changes. Examples for public water systems include the following:
    • Chemical substitution: Substitute safer chlorine pellets or sodium hypochlorite for a chlorine gas system.
    • Process change: When adding flocculent or other chemicals, feed chemicals to maximize contact with water by increasing surface area or contact time. This maximizes the effectiveness of the reaction and may result in lower chemical use overall.
    • Maintenance change: Use a water softener to minimize calcium build-up in pipes.
  • Maintain good inventories. Accurate inventories and recordkeeping can help reduce waste by reducing duplication, preventing expiration of materials, and identifying excess use.
  • Properly label all chemical and waste containers to prevent cross-contamination.
  • Understand chemical compatibility. Review and retain Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS).
  • Properly store all chemical containers and wastes. Proper storage can eliminate accidental spills or damage to containers. Chemicals such as activated carbon can deteriorate if exposed to air.
  • Store chemicals away from the well system or water treatment units, as an accidental spill could disrupt your entire system.
  • Incorporate spill prevention precautions. Use secondary containment measures and leak inspection schedules to minimize contamination and loss from accidental spills. Have a spill cleanup kit near any chemicals that could cause a problem.
  • Recycle. Set the example. Promote recycling of office paper, cans, cardboard, newspapers, and other materials at your facility and in your community.
  • Initiate a green purchasing program to encourage purchase of recycled and environmentally friendly products. Adjust procurement plans to allow competitive bids to reflect the environmental qualities of the product. For example, Idaho allows a price adjustment for recycled paper purchases to encourage state agencies to buy recycled products.

Vehicle Fleets

Vehicles can impact the air, water, and land. Facilities with fleets have additional opportunities to prevent pollution.

  • Follow routine maintenance schedules on all facility vehicles. Proper tire pressure, clean filters, and routine oil changes can increase the efficiency of a vehicle, leading to better gas mileage, lower operating costs, and longer vehicle life.
  • When contracting service for vehicles, consider shops that practice pollution prevention and follow environmental best management practices, such as the use of aqueous parts washers over solvents, proper waste management, and dry shop cleaning methods.

Lawn Care

Set the example for lawn maintenance by practicing water conservation and minimizing potential contaminants to water.

  • Conserve water. Water at night or during the coolest part of the day. Install a programmable watering meter that automatically turns water on and off. Use a mulching lawn mower. Water only lawn and garden areas. Ensure sprinkler systems do not extend to parking lots and roads.
  • Manage chemical use. Limit pesticide and fertilizer use on facility property. Use fertilizer in proportion to the watering and plant needs.
  • Substitute less toxic chemicals. If chemicals must be used, choose less hazardous chemicals to minimize impacts to surrounding water systems.

For Your Community

Actively work with community leaders to educate the public and protect drinking water sources.

  • Support residential household hazardous waste programs to divert hazardous materials from the landfill and prevent contamination of water sources.
  • Establish a city outreach program to educate users about water conservation and protection of drinking water sources. Consider offering water-use audits to large-volume customers or residents.
  • Educate your customers about water conservation and protecting water sources through bill inserts, public meetings, and a clear, easy-to-read water bill. 
  • Work with local nurseries and appliance and hardware stores to ensure availability of water conservation products (xeriscape plants, low-flow toilets, and aerators) in your community.

Staff Contacts

Pollution Prevention and Continuous Improvement Lead
Ben Jarvis
DEQ State Office
Director's Office
1410 N. Hilton
Boise, ID 83706
(208) 373-0146

Related Pages

Pollution Prevention