Mayor Blaine Willes thinks that area residents should change some of their habits - such as how they water their lawns, how they shower and the types of toilets they use.

"We are doing relatively well compared to the rest of the world. We don't have New York City's water problems."During a City Council work session Tuesday, Willes said New York uses more than a billion gallons of water a day, pumping more than can be restored to underground supplies.

"I know Orem doesn't have a serious water shortage yet, but the time to talk about conservation is now, not when we have double the population and Provo has double the population and the aquifer has less water."

Willes suggested testing a toilet that uses about one-tenth the water a conventional fixture does. If the special toilets prove economical and functional, Orem could require they be installed in new buildings.

"If you're going to change the toilets, the time to do it is when you have 65,000 homes, not 120,000," he said.

Willes also suggested researching shower heads that conserve water and raising utility fees for residents using more water.

"The system we have now encourages waste. If people choose to water the streets and the sidewalks, they should pay for the privilege."

Children, as well as adults, should be educated on conservation, he said.

"They need to learn in school that there are consequences to wasting resources."

Willes suggested using treated sewage water on lawns and golf courses. Ten to 14 million gallons of treated wastewater are available from the Orem treatment plant daily.

City Manager Daryl Berlin said many cities pump treated wastewater back into the aquifers. When the water level in an aquifer drops too low, sink holes can appear on the Earth's surface. Structures built on the sinking surface can be damaged or destroyed. Refilling the aquifer would maintain the "support system" under our cities.