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Water Conservation Research and Pilot Projects

A summary of the research and evaluations of the pilot projects used to develop a campaign to reduce lawn watering and conserve water

Foundational Research & Pilot Projects

In the summer of 2016, DER worked with Action Research and the Ipswich River Watershed Association to better understand the barriers and benefits to homeowners in reducing summer water use. Based on those findings, DER and partners created and piloted two outdoor water conservation campaigns in the summer of 2017. The campaigns goal was to motivate residents to stop or reduce summer lawn watering. One strategy (the feedback strategy) compared a household’s summer water use to neighbors. This strategy was found to be the most effective at reducing summer water use.

Building on the success and lessons learned from the 2017 pilot, MassDEP expanded the project to three communities in the summer of 2018. The 2018 campaigns were developed using the feedback strategy. At the end of the summer there were statistically significant reductions in water use, ranging from 41 to 128 gallons/day per household. The pilot project was repeated in 2019 with 6 communities (the 3 communities that piloted the project in 2018 and 3 new communities)The pilot project was repeated in 2019 with 6 communities (the 3 communities that piloted the project in 2018 and 3 new communities) and a toolkit was developed to assist with implementation.  Water savings in 2019 were similar to those observed in 2018.

A summary of the initial benefits and barrier research as well as an evaluation of the 2017, 2018, and 2019 pilot projects can be found under Additional Resources. Learn more about and download the toolkit.

Additional Resources for