The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, six water districts in the West and three in the South will conduct a 33-month study to collect detailed information about how much water is consumed in “standard” new homes vs. “high-efficiency” new homes. The Salt Lake City Water Department will coordinate the effort among the participating state agencies.

The study will look at how water is used by collecting data from billing records, surveys and meter measurement of usage for faucet, clothes washer, toilet and other household uses. Sixty homes will be selected in each city - 40 standard and 20 higher efficiency. Researchers will visit participating homeowners to explain the study, install the equipment, and ask a few questions.

The EPA said the project will help establish voluntary targets for builders who want to provide buyers with alternate water-efficiency options; develop criteria for water-efficient homes based on water-using products and building design or on-average gallons used per resident, per day; and create special certification marks to help consumers identify water-efficient new homes.

Water systems involved in the $530,000 study are located in Utah, Colorado, North Carolina, Oregon, Arizona, California, Nevada and Florida. The EPA will invest $350,000, with the other agencies contributing $20,000 each.