Conservation and Education

Water Conservation

Conservation of natural resources including water is a strong value in the Carrboro-Chapel Hill community and at OWASA. OWASA customers have achieved remarkable water conservation since fiscal year 2001-02: drinking water use in our community has fallen about 26% and returned to levels not seen since the early 1990s, despite the community's growth in the last two decades. (We have 16% more customers than in 2002.)

The benefits of conservation: Conservation practices and investments make our community better prepared for droughts; defer the need for multi-million dollar expansion of OWASA system capacities; and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from use of conventional energy sources to pump lake water, drinking water, wastewater and treated wastewater. For information on the relationship between water use, conservation and greenhouse gas emissions, please click here.

By reducing hot water use in homes and business, etc., OWASA customers can also reduce their energy use and greenhouse gas emissions from heating water with conventional fuels.

Our Conservation Policy is: To develop, fund, and implement a cost-effective water conservation and demand management program that will meet our community's long-term water supply needs (through 2050) by making the highest and best use of our local water resources and eliminating the need for costly new water supply sources and facilities.


OWASA has adopted a Water Shortage Response Plan in accord with State requirements. 

On January 10, 2013, the OWASA Board adopted a Drought Response Operating Protocol (DROP), which describes OWASA’s procedures and criteria for making water supply and demand management decisions in an extended drought. To read the DROP, please click here. For the Board’s resolution, please click here.

Educating the Community

Taste of Hope Staff

Drought-tolerant, non-invasive trees, shrubs and flowers are a practical alternative to traditional cold-season grasses. When established, drought-tolerant landscaping can add beauty, complement lawn areas and save water and dollars; and benefit the environment by improving wildlife habitat, reducing fertilizer and pesticide use and lessening the need for mowing.

Are you a high school student in grades 9 - 12 in Carrboro or Chapel Hill? Apply for the Youth Water Academy! Deadline to apply is March 26, 2019.

Education, communication and information are a key part of our services to the community.

It is our responsibility not only to provide clean, safe drinking water and to responsibly treat wastewater, but to clearly, courteously and timely inform our customers about our services, policies, plans and actions; proposed actions, policies and plans; and meaningful opportunities to participate in OWASA's decision processes.

We welcome your questions, comments and the opportunity to give you information through our website, by contacting or visiting us, touring our facilities, etc. Please feel free contact us at or 919-968-4421.

We invite you to join our electronic mailing list to receive our news releases simply and quickly by e-mail. To join our mail list, please send an e-mail to

Also, we offer presentations to school classes on request in addition to providing tours of our water and wastewater treatment plants. To schedule a presentation on our community's water resources including where our water comes from, how we treat lake water to make drinking water, how wastewater is treated and recycled and related topics, please contact us at

For the US Environmental Protection Agency's water-related lesson plans and resources for teachers, please click on the following link: Water.

Conservation and Service Affordability