Roger L. Stancil, Town Manager


Carlo Robustelli, Mayoral Aide
John Richardson, Sustainability Officer
Haley Rader, Mayor’s Intern


Improving Water Conservation Efforts in Chapel Hill Public Housing: Colony Woods Case Study


May 4, 2009


The purpose of this report is to provide information about the Mayor’s Youth for a Sustainable Future initiative and submit data and recommendations for improving the Town’s water conservation efforts in public housing.


The Mayor’s Youth for a Sustainable Future initiative is a program aimed to empower the youth of our community by exposing them to knowledge and skills that will allow them to become leaders of change in their homes, schools, neighborhoods and in the community at-large. The initiative benefits from private-public partnerships including the support from the Town of Chapel Hill, UNC Environmental Resource Program and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Foundation for a Sustainable Community, and this year’s program was made possible by the support from Niagara Conservation Corporation.  Through hands-on learning modules, the participants learn about the three-legged stool that is sustainability and design and implement their own service project that addresses a need in the community.

In October 2008, three Youth began work on this year’s program on Water Conservation and Audit Training.  They completed a three part module program which included:

Two Classroom Sessions


1.      “What is Sustainability?” facilitated by the Environment Resource Program.  The ERP facilitated a discussion of the three components of sustainability: environment, economy and society.

2.       The New “Green” Economy facilitated by The Foundation for a Sustainable Community. 

Hands on Field Work

The Youth engaged in a real-world, sustainable business environment.  Field exercises were facilitated by the Orange County Water and Sewer Authority Staff on water conservation audits. 

Community Service Project

The project provided the youth with an opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills they learned in the first two modules to a community service project.  The Youth managed the project from start to finish by working directly with Town staff, professional consultants, and community partners.


Additional details about the Mayor’s Youth initiative and this particular program can be found by going to:


Since fall 2008, participants of the Mayor’s Youth for a Sustainable Future Initiative have worked with Town staff and professionals from OWASA to conduct water conservation audits and retrofits.  The Youth developed tools for this project that Chapel Hill residents can use to perform their own audits.  These tools included: a residential audit calculator tool, how to do a residential water audit, and how to read your water meter. 

Using the tools develop specifically for this project, the Youth worked with OWASA to evaluate water consumption data for Chapel Hill public housing units..  Based on this data, the Youth conducted water audits on five public housing units.  After they evaluated the results of the audits, the Youth worked with professional staff to retrofit the five units with high-efficiency toilets, low-flow showerheads, and faucet aerators donated by Niagara Conservation Corporation. 

After the installations were made, the Youth worked with OWASA staff to monitor the water consumption in the units over the next two months. The participants then evaluated the results of the retrofits and prepared a report (attached) for the Town Council’s consideration. 


That the Council refers the attached report and recommendations to the Council Committee on Sustainability, Energy and Environment (SEE) and Town staff for further evaluation and possible development of a plan to improve water conservation in the Town’s public housing stock.


1.      Improving Water Conservation Efforts in Chapel Hill Public Housing: Colony Woods Case Study (begin new page 1).