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The county completed the plumbing retrofits in 2012, and the 35 percent water reduction helped the county’s bottom line. But Harris wonders if they missed more savings opportunities.
“We had an overall concept of what we wanted to get done, but each building project was developed individually,” Harris says. “We probably missed some economy of scale opportunities by not planning the project as a whole. We also did not track building water usage before and after to accurately tell our story of the true value of the project.”
The staff also learned the hard way about the benefits of preventive maintenance for restrooms.
“As we moved through the different buildings, we had to shut off certain water valves to get the work done, and we didn’t always perform proper maintenance on those valves,” Harris says. “So we got into situations where valves wouldn’t open or valves didn’t hold. Some of the projects became a little more complicated because it became more work than we anticipated.
“The real lesson is make sure you perform maintenance on those valves and those types of items because when you need to shut down the water to a portion of the building, you need those valves to work. We didn’t give preventive maintenance much thought over the years. You assume they’re going to work when you need them. Have a good maintenance plan in place even for those smaller items because you never know when you might need them.”
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