News Brief

Handbook of Water Use and Conservation

by Amy Vickers, 2001, WaterPlow Press, PO Box 2475, Amherst, MA 01004-2475; 413/253-1520, 413/253-1521 (fax), Hardcover, 464 pages, $99.95.

Much more than a “handbook,” this is a veritable encyclopedia of water conservation methods and equipment in buildings, landscapes, and beyond.

Vickers has drawn on her extensive experience consulting on water conservation policies and programs to create this superb reference that is both comprehensive and accessible. In addition to the technologies themselves, there is a heavy focus on policy and program design to achieve water conservation objectives.

Most of the Handbook consists of four chapters that address water use by category: residential/domestic; landscape; industrial/commercial/institutional; and agricultural. Each of these chapters begins with a macro-scale picture of water use in that sector, followed by general guidelines for water use reduction, and finally, a detailed discussion of specific strategies and technologies. Sprinkled throughout are examples illustrating how water conservation measures were implemented—many of which reportedly recovered their cost within the first month or two. On the whole this organization works well, although it is a bit surprising to find public-lavatory technologies such as waterless urinals and automatic flush controls in the chapter on residential and domestic measures.

Among the many useful bits of information provided is the fact that cooling towers lose about 2.4 gallons of water per minute to evaporation for each ton of cooling they provide (2.6 l/m per kW). This water use is inherent to how cooling towers operate and is separate from additional losses that may occur as mist drifts out of the cooling tower, or when “bleeding off” water with high solids and replacing it with fresh water. On the residential side, average water use seems to have declined about 10% between 1984 and 1999, from 77.3 gallons (340 l) per capita per day to 69.3 gallons (305 l). This reduction is attributed primarily to the impact of the Energy Policy Act of 1992, which mandated reduced water use for many fixtures (see EBN Vol. 6, No. 8). A separate 1999 study cited in the Handbook estimates that the average single-family home loses 9.5 gallons per capita per day (42 l) to leaks.

In a field where, in EBN’s experience, good information has been hard to find, this book is most welcome. Anyone working on conservation programs for governments or institutions will find it invaluable, and many others will benefit from it as well.

– NM


Published January 1, 2002

(2002, January 1). Handbook of Water Use and Conservation. Retrieved from

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