Usage Drives Water System Planning

Water usage trends have changed over the past 10-15 years. Generally, as most people are aware, families today tend to have fewer children than families in the past, reducing demand on the water supply. These numbers are partially derived through SEMCOG population studies, which have also recently lowered the average # of persons per household from 3.5 to 2.4. Furthermore, the average per-person water usage was once thought to be around 90-100 gallons per day. Today, with research from several recent studies, that number is believed to be closer to 60-80 gallons per day.
Factors that drive average household water usage include water efficiency, water conservation, and cost of water. With regards to efficiency, the standard now is low flow or “eco-friendly” fixtures on everything! Most toilets, faucets, and appliances are all more efficient in the usage and consumption of water than they were 10-20 years ago. Also, more people are environmentally conscience about water today than in the past. Protecting and valuing all our resources is a driving factor with regards to regulations, development, and environmental groups. Finally, and most obviously, as the cost of water rises seems to sometimes cause less usage. Tasks such as watering the grass, washing your car, or letting the kids run through the sprinkler are activities that are not as common as in the past.
All of these combined aspects are revealing themselves in the total usage numbers of our water system. Even as development steadily continues throughout the City, water usage is down in 3 of the past 4 years. COVID has also thrown a small wrench in our water usage patterns and has caused unsteady future projections. With roughly 60% of water usage based on commercial usage in Auburn Hills, business decisions could affect our system in the long run. As some businesses have transitioned from “in-person” to “work-from-home”, some of the demands on the water supply transitioned from commercial to residential.
The trends and future predictions need to be analyzed so we can be as close as possible to what is expected in the future. Whether we make additions or upgrades to our system have to be warranted and make fiscal sense. The obvious overall goal of our system is making sure it is capable and prepared to handle the demand today, tomorrow, and throughout the near future.

Jason Deman
Manager of Public Utilities

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