The Board of Water Supply's conservation program touches on a number of ways in which individuals, families and organizations can do their part to help conserve and preserve Oahu's water supply. This covers everything from school programs, leak detection, water waste hotline, the Halawa Xeriscape Garden, as well as conservation tips and other helpful publications for homes and businesses.

Ongoing Initiatives

Water Conservation Week Contests

Through the Water Conservation Week contests, all Oahu students have the opportunity to learn about the importance of water and water conservation. The poster contest is open to students in grades K-6; the poetry contest is open to students in grades 7-12. The winning posters and poems are featured in an annual water conservation calendar, which is printed and distributed by the BWS to schools and to the public to fulfill our public outreach efforts.

2013 poster and poetry contest winnersThe BWS chooses to focus conservation educational efforts with students on the basis that good water management and conservation practices begin at an early age. Students can then introduce or reinforce conservation practices amongst their families and friends. This is a process the BWS hopes will continue on through successive generations.

The poster contest and resulting calendar began in 1979. Building on the popularity and success of the poster contest, the poetry contest was added in 2009. The BWS believes this successful public outreach program has helped to positively educate our community about the importance of water conservation. In 2016, the BWS received more than 1,550 poster contest entries from 45 Oahu schools. In addition, 430 poetry contest entries were received from middle and high school students from 18 Oahu schools.

Leak Detection Program

In 2004, the Board of Water Supply (BWS) developed an internal conservation program that focused on internal water conservation efforts. As part of the existing leak detection program, personnel from the BWS implemented the goals of proactively preventing main breaks, ensuring optimum customer service and system reliability, improving plans for repair and replacement of aging infrastructure, and preventing water loss in the system.

The BWS Leak Detection Team was tasked to proactively look for and identify leaks in the BWS system using a combination of digital correlating loggers to record pipe vibrations as water pushes through the pipes and toning equipment to pinpoint the location of the leak. The data collected was used to prioritize and schedule planned repairs to the water system, which resulted in the prevention of potential emergency main breaks equating to even more water savings. Leak detection efforts have resulted in an estimated savings of approximately 1.4 million gallons of water per day.

Rain Barrel Catchment Program

black rain barrel exampleThe BWS conducts Rain Barrel Water Catchment workshops throughout the year at the Halawa Xeriscape Garden, BWS's xeriscape demonstration garden in conjunction with the non-profit group the Friends of Halawa Xeriscape Garden. These classes promoted rain barrel water catchment as an alternative and effective method for conserving water outdoors. Attendees learned they could install rain barrels at their homes to collect and use rainwater for non-potable purposes, such as garden irrigation. The classes discussed important rain barrel construction, installation, and maintenance points along with tips on how to easily integrate rain barrels into gardening lifestyles. For a nominal fee, workshop attendees can take home one fully-constructed 53-gallon rain barrel.

The BWS estimates that fifty percent of the potable water used by the average single-family home occurs outdoors. Given the number of rain barrels implemented as a result of the program, the size of each barrel, along with roof size and rain calculations, it is estimated the BWS rain barrel program saves about 253,000 gallons of potable water a year. The public demand remains high for this popular educational workshop.

Past Initiatives

Toilet Flapper Program

BWS investigators respond to numerous customer calls to investigate and determine if a reported leak is at the customer's meter or on private property. If the leak is not at the meter, BWS investigators help to educate customers on how to check their property for leaks. As part of the BWS's water conservation program, the BWS has been equipping its investigators with toilet flappers that are provided to customers that detect leaks in their toilet. The water savings was measured by the BWS based on the customer's water meter reading before and after the flapper was replaced. An estimated total of 4 million gallons of potable water is saved as a result of this program each year.

Toilet Rebate Program

From 1994 through December 2010, the BWS and the City Department of Environmental Services (ENV) offered a residential Ultra-Low Flow Toilet Rebate Program to help to save Oahu's precious water supply and reduce flow into the City's sewer system. The program offered a $100 rebate for customers who change their old, high volume toilets (3 gallons or more per flush) to ultra-low flush toilets (1.6 gallons or less per flush). An estimated 5,200 gallons of water is saved a year for each household that changes out a single high volume toilet to an ultra-low flow toilet. It is estimated that more than 4.6 billion gallons of potable water has been saved as a result of the program. The BWS estimates that more than 65 percent of the residential market has been reached through the successful Ultra-Low Flow Toilet Rebate Program.