As drought looms, Sebastopol adopts BayREN's Water Upgrades $ave program

As state water supplies face challenges, the Sebastopol City Council voted this week to adopt the BayREN Water Upgrades $ave program, making it the first Bay Area city to enroll.

With this program in place, Sebastopol municipal water customers can now install indoor and outdoor water efficiency upgrades, such as high-efficiency toilets, aerators and showerheads. Participants use vetted contractors to install upgrades with no up-front costs, using a monthly on-bill charge that is significantly lower than the estimated savings, so they begin saving right away.

Water Upgrades $ave is a new regional water efficiency finance service for municipal water utilities from the Bay Area Regional Energy Network (BayREN), with fiscal sponsorship from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and Association of Bay Area Governments

The program benefits utilities because it is specifically designed for ease of use for busy local governments. In fact, Water Upgrades $ave will administer and operate the program as a regional initiative on behalf of Sebastopol and other future participating local governments and their water utilities.

"The program will be turn-key for us where we won’t have to make any additional hires, and we won’t have to manage it," said Sebastopol Vice Mayor Sarah Gurney. "For an understaffed small city with a lot of older houses, the program offers great benefit.”

The Water Upgrade $ave program will help municipalities and communities be more resilient in the face of drought and limited water supplies. The program services help municipalities meet state and local water efficiency goals, support underserved customers (low- and moderate-income customers and renters), and produce water and energy savings on the customer side of the meter.

The program can be customized to supplement current indoor and outdoor water conservation efforts to best meet each municipality’s needs. The program will be featured at the California Public Utilities Commission’s Clean Energy Financing Workshop on Jan. 29 as an example of an inclusive financing program.

To learn more, contact: Chris Cone, Program Manager at or (707) 431-SAVE (7283). 



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