Department of Water Resources: Residential Water Efficiency Project, Madera County

A SEMCU member distributes free water efficiency devices at an outreach event

“For the community; by the community” is the motto of the South-East Madera County United (SEMCU), a non-profit mutual benefit organization in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley. In May 2015, with a $218,594 grant from the DWR, members set out to provide water efficiency devices for approximately 75 percent of homes and businesses within SEMCU’s boundary, an area encompassing five disadvantaged community census tracts.

Water conservation is very important to residents of southeast Madera County. All are 100 percent reliant on groundwater for drinking. During the State’s period of extreme drought, it was easy for SEMCU to get people’s attention about the program. Even as California’s water situation is improving, the program continues to be successful.

“We are grateful to our community members, who have distributed and installed almost 3,000 low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators to almost 500 residents and businesses in southeast Madera,” said Igal Treibatch, current president and founding member of SEMCU Foundation, Inc.

The project is saving an estimated 160,500 gallons of water in the first year. It is also reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 76 MTCO2e. The program is also saving 273,000 kWh of energy, which translates to an average savings of about $100 per home or business during the lifetime of the installed devices. 

SEMCU members have held more than a dozen giveaway events since April 2016. They have been conducted at the local fire station, an annual parade and fair, local businesses, the senior center, and chamber of commerce.

But this isn’t a typical one-size-fits-all giveaway. Various hardware types and styles are available and displayed so that participants can decide for themselves what works best for their home or business.

“The average participant picks up about $75 worth of retail value hardware that they go to the trouble to install themselves. This allows them to save water and energy every time they take a shower or turn on the bathroom or kitchen faucet in their house or business,” said Karen Petryna, SEMCU member.

Click here for more information about the Water-Energy Efficiency Program.