Save more water because research says your sprinkler-happy neighbor isn’t going to

Research finds that if you want people to save water, you should ask the people who already save water to save more.

staff photo
Moody skies over Chatfield Reservoir. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Moody skies over Chatfield Reservoir. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

You do you, person aggressively watering your lawn and the sidewalk, because apparently not much is going to stop you. Research finds that if you want people to save water, you should ask the people who already save water to save more.

“Unconcerned water users” think less of water conservation, says a new study from the University of Florida, and don’t think they’re capable of better watering practices for their landscape. The good news is that these people were a minority of those studied, 19 percent.

Boaters on Chatfield Reservoir. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

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Boaters on Chatfield Reservoir. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

But the “water considerate majority” are already conserving some water, understand it’s important, and “were likely to engage in behavior changes.”

In other words, the research suggests directing your “Use only what you need” messages to those water considerate folks to see bigger conservation gains.

Jimmy Luthye, spokesperson for Denver Water, says that the organization hasn’t categorized its users as water considerate or unconcerned. Instead the organization has been focused on creating a culture of conservation in the city.

Chatfield Reservoir. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

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Chatfield Reservoir. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

And their statistics suggest that they’ve seen a lot of success in this regard. Denver has reduced water use by more than 20 percent in the last 15 years, despite a 15 percent population increase.

But Luthye says in some respects, Denver Water is “between campaigns,” and may elect to have more specialized programming in the future where they emphasize connecting with some users more than others.

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