Decreasing water usage follows national trend

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

BENTON TOWNSHIP — More residents are using less water in Benton Township.

Water Plant Supervisor Kyle Tryan gave trustees a look at the township’s water usage and demand trends over the past three years during a workshop meeting Friday. During the meeting, Tryan pointed out a trend that’s occurring across the county.

“Through the last eight months, and overall through the last three years, we’ve seen a decline in water usage,” Tryan said, referencing several handouts he provided trustees with. “If you see the attached sheet, most major U.S. cities are actually experiencing this decline as well.”

The two main causes of this decline has been a push for conservation of resources and the implementation of water-efficient devices and appliances, Tryan said.

“People are becoming more conscious of the environment and how to save themselves money through the use of more efficient products like shower heads, faucet aerators and washing machines,” Tryan said. “We are saving water, energy and chemicals and putting less pressure on capital costs. But we are taking in less revenue in turn.”

Kelli Nelson, a contracted township accountant, said the township doesn’t lose much revenue with the decrease in water usage.

“We have seen slight decline this year compared to prior years,” she said. “What Kyle is talking about is a nationwide trend. There is no reason for financial concern at this point. We will keep an eye on the water usage in 2016.”

The revenue the township collects through residential and commercial water bills pay for water filtration and operating the distribution system.

The township’s revenue was down 2.8 percent in 2015. Nelson said the township recorded $2.95 million in 2014 and $2.87 million in 2015. Nelson said the township’s water revenue was down 7 percent in the first quarter of 2016.

“We’re starting out the year a little lower than we did last year, but our budget projections have always been conservative,” Nelson said. “The last few years, the way we put together our budget, revenue has exceeded the budget. Don’t expect to see any issues with the water fund as a result of the usage trends.”

The reason the township budgets its water revenue conservatively is because it fluctuates due to several factors, like weather. Nelson said residents use less water during rainy summers, but usage increases when summer weather is dry.

Contact Tony Wittkowski at twittkowski@TheHP.com or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter: @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on April 5, 2016)

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