The majority of the State of California is under a state of emergency for drought conditions. Recently, Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a drought emergency in most counties, as recent reports show 87.95 of the state in severe drought and 52.86 in extreme drought, including most of Los Angeles, Ventura, San Bernardino and Sacramento counties. How will the drought affect your association, and what steps can you take now to save water in your HOA. There are a variety of ways to save water in your association, and still keep up maintenance and the appearance of your HOA. Water conservation, while often done to reduce water costs, is also just an act of smart community management. Here are some great tips to boost HOA water savings while helping the larger community conserve water as well.
Making Changes in Common Areas
As a member of the board of directors, you should set the example for your community by implementing water-saving changes in the common areas of your facility. If you have a common restroom, install low-flow toilets and water conserving sinks. Swap out fresh indoor plants for artificial to eliminate the need to water. Remember, the more ways you can conserve water in the common areas, the more money will go back into your associations pocket.
Landscaping in a community can be a huge source of wasted water. In many cases it’s the number one culprit for huge water bills. By using drought tolerant plants and California-friendly flowers and shrubs you can greatly improve irrigation conditions and possibly reduce total annual water usage by as much as 40 percent saving million gallons of water. Check with your HOA landscaping vendor to explore the variety of options to reduce water consumption.
Energy Audit for Your HOA
What is an energy audit? An energy audit is a review of your energy usage with the goal of identifying ways to save your community money. While an energy audit will look at all of your utilities, including electric and gas, it can also prove to be an invaluable tool to help you find and eliminate areas of water waste. A third-party energy audit company can provide an unbiased point of view to help your HOA board and community take action to minimize water consumption.
A good place to start is an actual municipal water billing audit, there could be incredible losses where associations are getting billed for water sometimes that they’re not even using, and sometimes they’re not receiving a bill for water. Inspect the property for multiple meters your associations is paying, if it’s a large property with multiple buildings, get authorization to contact the municipality to look at the bills. Some properties have not had meters that have been inspected or calibrated in years, if ever. Put on external water meters, and start monitoring water use. Speak with your management company on guidance in this area.
Upgrade Your Garden Soil with Mulch
Mulch saves water period! Garden plants and trees love mulch, and adding mulch to the base of your shrub beds and trees will greatly improve their health and appearance. One other advantage of mulch is the way it absorbs moisture. Not only do you get healthier gardens, but you also get to use less water. One of the many reasons to use mulch is to snuff out weed seeds by shading them. This allows the roots of desirable plants to access soil, water, and nutrients without undue competition. Mulches free of viable weed seeds—such as leaves, good compost, and wood chips—are best. Mulch your landscaping areas to conserve water. Organic mulches soften the impact of raindrops so that water can effectively permeate the soil, and all mulches, organic or otherwise, limit evaporation of soil moisture.
Partnering with Residential Property Management Company
If you’re really serious about saving water, should your board consider working with a professional residential property management company? Doing so could help improve your water conservation efforts. Yes, utilities are an important aspect of managing a community, and the right management company can help. Management companies can assist with creating water-saving strategies, arrange for energy audits, facilitate better communication with residents, plus manage energy-saving improvements for your HOA.
Remember, conserving water is important and a real concern for everyone living in California. Make sure your residential property management company is doing their best to help your association reduce water usage. Need help to save water in your HOA? Contact Association Management Concepts (AMC Inc.) to begin your energy audit and to receive tips your community needs to begin conserving water, lowering your water bills and improving the California environment for all residents.