Water Conservation in Apartment, Condominium and Multi-Family Dwellings

Saving Water and Money at Apartment, Condominium and Multi-Family Dwellings

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Guide for Residents, Property Owners and Property Managers

Water Conservation in  Apartment Buildings is Important!

According to the National Multifamily Housing Council, more than 16 million California residents live in apartment buildings, representing more than 40% of the state’s population. And the cost of water is an important contributor to the upward pressure on rental and operational costs for apartment owners and residents.

Over the years, apartment buildings were constructed with “master” water meters for the entire building, rather than individual water meters (or sub-meters) for each apartment unit. Because tenants’ water costs are wrapped up in their rent payment, they have no idea how much water they’re using, and no direct financial incentive to conserve.

A survey of Los Angeles apartment owners in 2015 revealed that total water use remained unchanged – and even increased, in some cases – despite the State’s 25 percent conservation order. A 2004 study, funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, found sub-metering cut water use by 15 percent on average — simply by giving tenants information about their water consumption. Other studies estimated conservation as high as 30 percent a month.

The recent drought, low groundwater levels, interest in water conservation and desire to save money have prompted a variety of water saving techniques, equipment and policies. This section will discuss several conservation methods that save water and money, such as:

  1. Sub-Metering or Separate Water Meters
  2. Indoor Water Conservation Solutions
  3. Outdoor Water Conservation Solutions
  4. Rebates for Water-Efficient Equipment and Supplies


Save Water and Save Money with Sub-Meters

Water sub-metering allows a landlord, property management firm, condominium association, homeowners association, or other multi-tenant property to track individual water use and bill tenants accordingly. If residents have individual water meters (sub-meters) and/or pay directly for their water use, they are much more likely to reduce their water use and take advantage of water conservation incentives such as rebate programs.

California law requires new apartment buildings, constructed after January 1, 2018, to include sub-meters for every rental unit and to bill tenants accordingly.

Sub-meters are more common or required in newer buildings and major renovation projects. Sub-meters may also be installed to measure and distinguish between indoor and outdoor water use at apartment buildings. However, older buildings usually do not possess such meters, nor is it cost-effective for all apartment owners to retrofit such buildings. Rebates that would create incentives to install individual meters are not available within the District’s service area. We encourage property owners and managers to study sub-metering further and to contact their City’s water utility to decide if sub-metering is advantageous for them.

Helpful information about sub-metering  may be found at:


Many of the same water saving opportunities available to residents of single-family homes are available to residents of apartment, condominium and other multi-family dwellings. For further conservation and rebate information, visit: 

In addition to the tips above:

  • Contact your City’s water utility for local information.
  • Install high-efficiency washing machines in laundry rooms (SGVMWD rebate available).
  • Educate Residents


Many of the same water saving opportunities available to residents of single-family homes are available to residents of apartment, condominium and other multi-family dwellings. For further information, visit the District’s website:  

In addition to the tips above: 

  • Detect and repair leaks. 
  • Contact your City’s water utility for local information. 
  • Prohibit the use of apartment building water and hoses for washing cars. 
  • Adhere to California’s mandatory water conservation restrictions prohibiting hosing down sidewalks and driveways, allowing sprinkler water to flow off of property onto streets and sidewalks, etc. 
  • Require privately-hired maintenance and landscape staff to possess water conservation expertise.


As shown below, the District offers a rebate program to its member cities (excluding Azusa which is offered rebates by another water agency) to provide incentives to residents, property owners and property managers to save water.

For further information about water conservation at apartment buildings, please visit the District’s website ( or contact your City’s water utility: