It doesn’t do any good to have technology and strategies for conserving and protecting water supplies if no one can see them, learn from them and adapt them for personal use. Broward County has developed a series of demonstration projects that use “water-friendly” strategies and technologies in both the public and private sectors, where they have become models for good water management. The projects are using NatureScape principles and ultra-efficient irrigation systems, as well as indoor water-saving devices to achieve significant reductions in water use.
To highlight the successes of each project, the County will prepare informational material describing the projects and outcomes. The material will stress the significance of each of the demonstration projects and allow public agencies and private property owners to see what ideas and technology are available and can be adapted for their needs. In this way, the County will encourage similar initiatives by other businesses, industries, governments, and communities.
Photo Credit: www.ncsc.edu
What’s being done?
Several hotels, local businesses and municipal governments have partnered with Broward County to show others that protecting water quality and conserving water can be a money-saving part of regular business practice. As demonstration projects, they also show the public that water conservation doesn’t have to be complicated — simple changes can make a big difference. The hope is that Broward County residents and business leaders will notice the changes that businesses, parks, hotels, and other properties are making, and will be inspired to make some changes of their own.
All of the projects start with an assessment of the site. This establishes a baseline that reflects the current condition of the site – such as existing landscape, irrigation practices, plumbing features, scheduled use of fertilizers and pesticides, etc. Experts also take note of total water use both indoors and outdoors. This allows the amount of water, fertilizers and pesticides used before the project begins to be compared to the amount used after improvements have been made.
Best management practices (BMPs) for conservation are leading to significant savings in water and maintenance expenses for the participating sites. Best management practices are often the most effective, efficient, low cost, immediate, and simple ways to save water and prevent pollution.
Outdoors, BMPs that have been adopted by demonstration project partners include the installation of rain shut-off devices on irrigation systems and the modification of irrigation system design and operation. Landscape upgrades include removal of invasive exotic plants and replacement with native ones that are more drought and pest tolerant.
Indoors, participants in the program have replaced regular toilets with low-flow models, upgraded urinals to the waterless design, and installed faucets with automatic shut-off features. Each site is different, however, which is why Broward has a number of professionals like water managers, ecologists, irrigation specialists, and NatureScape program volunteers, and others on hand to customize and implement a plan for each participant.
What are we learning?
As the projects are completed, a final assessment of overall site improvements will show how far the participants have come in being good water managers. It will also reveal whether additional gains in efficiency can be made. If outdoor projects were part of the plan, the property may even be eligible to become one of the more than 1,100 properties in Broward County to be certified as a NatureScape!
So far, several businesses, hotels and local governments have had great success as water conservation demonstration projects. You may notice the water conservation improvements that have been made at these participating locations around Broward County: Hilton Garden Inn in Miramar, Holiday Park in Ft. Lauderdale, Plantation Community Center at Kennedy Park, Flamingo Park in Pembroke Pines, and the law offices of Becker and Poliakoff in Hollywood. Look for changes in landscape design and grounds maintenance and signage describing less visible improvements, and inquire about the type of water-saving devices being used. Most importantly, apply these same ideas to your own home or business and start making a difference!
If you’re a business owner and are interested in taking part in the program, call Broward County Environmental Protection Department at 954-519-1222.