In 2020, the City of Westminster, Colorado, launched a pilot program to upgrade water fixtures in multi-family, affordable housing buildings, free of charge. The program is funded by the City and is implemented by Mile High Youth Corps, an AmeriCorps service organization. In its first year, Mile High Youth Corps replaced 83 toilets, 20 kitchen aerators, 84 bathroom aerators, and 8 showerheads across 72 residential units at an affordable-housing complex in Westminster. The new fixtures are all EPA WaterSense certified models that use at least 20% less water than the current industry standard with the same or better level of service.
Centering equity and affordability is a key driver of Westminster's program. The upgrades provide significant water and sewer bill savings for Maiker Housing Partners, the local Housing Authority that owns and manages the property. Initial estimates suggest water savings of 70,000 gallons per year from the toilet change-outs alone, and estimated bill savings of $15,000 - $20,000 annually. Staff are evaluating actual water savings from metered data and plan to use this information to make the business case for market-rate multi-family housing owners to do similar efficiency retrofits. These utility bill savings will translate into greater access to affordable housing in Westminster, as the costs to the Housing Authority responsible for paying the water bills go down, the ability to add more units goes up.
This program also helps the City secure a long-term water supply for all customers. Given the community-wide water supply benefit of water efficiency programs, the City dedicated $100,000 in year two of the program to be funded as a Capital Improvement Program (CIP) project. Treating this efficiency retrofit program just like any other capital project with long-term water supply benefits provides access to larger dollar amounts for implementation and ensures program funding can carry over year to year for the CIP term. Click the link below to download a copy of Westminster's FY21 CIP; the multi-family water conservation program is listed on page 245.
WaterNow Alliance will continue to support Westminster's development and implementation of this important equity-focused, water efficiency program. Stay tuned for updates on this evolving program. In the meantime, learn more about Mile High Youth Corps' similar work in Aurora, Colorado.
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