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AWE Report: A Review of Connection Fees and Service Charges by Meter Size

Right-sizing premise plumbing systems has become a prominent topic of discussion in the plumbing and water industries, for good reason. Supply line and pipe sizing methodologies have been largely unchanged since Hunter’s Curve was created by Roy B. Hunter in 1940 -- yet fixtures and appliances such as faucets, showerheads, toilets, clothes washers, and dishwashers operate much more efficiently than they did in 1940 and thus have slowed the flows. Unfortunately, it is still common for meters and supply and waste lines to be oversized according to Hunter’s Curve. These oversized premise plumbing systems create multiple inefficiencies and worse, can have a negative impact on water quality.

The Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE) has conducted research at the request of IAPMO to better understand the current range of connection fees and recurring service charges related to meter size across metropolitan areas. Additionally, this research assessed the potential financial implications for water providers that would be associated with a possible trend toward downsizing the meter sizes of new connections.

This research has a number of connections to AWE’s mission. Installing new plumbing systems with properly sized piping can help address water quality issues associated with lower flows in oversized premise plumbing while also using less water and energy. Properly sized pipes are more compatible with modern fixtures and appliances and can deliver hot water in quicker times, both of which help save water and energy. Research has shown that compared to a conventional design, a 2-bath residential unit with right-sized plumbing results in 10% less energy loss in pipes to supply hot water and 18% less volume of water in pipes.1 Moreover, right-sized premise plumbing systems can use smaller meters that are more likely to record lower flows and aid in the detection of leaks compared to oversized meters.

Right sizing water supply lines can improve the performance of premise plumbing systems, help protect public health and safety by reducing water aging in premise plumbing systems, and generate water and energy savings. These are all important issues to AWE. We hope this report will help elucidate the financial and water efficiency implications of downsizing water meters, and thus provide important guidance for our water utility partners.

Download the Report

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