Most condominium or townhome communities share a similar structure when it comes to water. Each unit either has its own meter, is sub metered, or the water is included in the assessments for the community. Owners with meters feel a sense of responsibility for the water usage and try to help conserve. But responsibility for water consumption is not all that is needed; owners need to also take the proactive approach to ensure that plumbing fixtures are in good working order. Alas, not all owners are this responsible.
We’ve had an incredible success story recently with one of our clients, and their board of directors is truly proud of the results. We noticed a trend by carefully reviewing the financial reports. It is so important that you pay attention when you look at your financials! The water bill at this condominium community was skyrocketing. Operating funds were depleting. We knew we had to act fast.
Two approaches were researched and implemented. We contacted the city utility department and got approval to participate in a toilet rebate program: All owners installing a low flow flush toilet would get a rebate from the city. The city credited the association’s utility bill and in return the association issued funds to the owner. We also had the community's attorney review the governing documents to ensure that we would have the right to do unit inspections searching for any plumbing leaks.
The water bill received immediately after the process began was already showing improvement, success! After all the reports of completed repairs by the owners were in and many new, low flush toilets had been installed - the next water bill had been cut in half as compared to the same date the year before. It was so important to the board of directors to be able to show this to their owners that not only do they have a responsibility to ensure their community is being run well, but they also are proactive in finding ways to keep spending down as well as find ways to save costs.
While of course we had a “fun time” dealing with disgruntled owners that didn’t want us to enter their units or didn’t believe us when reported leaks needing repairs, it was well worth it in the end to be able to thank them for their cooperation!