Santa Fe joins Mayor’s Challenge to cut water use

Originally published in the Santa Fe New Mexican


Santa Fe is join­ing an an­nual na­tional chal­lenge, com­plete with cash and other prizes, that asks res­i­dents to make a long-term com­mit­ment to man­age wa­ter re­sources more wisely.

Mayor Alan Web­ber is part­ner­ing with may­ors na­tion­wide in the Wy­land Na­tional Mayor’s Chal­lenge for Water Con­ser­va­tion, a non­profit com­mu­nity ser­vice cam­paign that be­gins Sun­day and runs through the end of April, the city said in a state­ment emailed to The New Mex­i­can.

“We love our way of life in Santa Fe, and we want to pass it down to suc­ces­sive gen­er­a­tions,” Web­ber said in the news re­lease. “That means mak­ing sus­tain­abil­ity a part of ev­ery­thing we do, es­pe­cially where wa­ter is in­volved.

“While we have some of the best wa­ter con­ser­va­tion rates in the coun­try,” he con­tin­ued, “chal­lenges like this are about find­ing ways to get even bet­ter, and I know we have it in us.”

Res­i­dents who par­tic­i­pate in the chal­lenge can win $5,000 to­ward their home util­ity bills, wa­ter-sav­ing fix­tures and hun­dreds of other prizes.

One char­ity na­tion­ally will re­ceive a 2018 Toy­ota RAV4 Hy­brid to serve its com­mu­nity.

Par­tic­i­pa­tion is easy: City res­i­dents visit the con­test web­site to make a se­ries of pledges to use wa­ter more ef­fi­ciently, re­duce pol­lu­tion and save en­ergy. Ci­ties with the high­est per­cent­age of res­i­dents pledg­ing in their pop­u­la­tion cat­e­gory qual­ify for more than $50,000 in prize draw­ings.

A spe­cial sec­tion of the web­site al­lows teach­ers and stu­dents to pledge, down­load wa­ter-con­ser­va­tion les­son plans and win class­rooms sup­plies and gift cards.

The New Mexican re­ported in 2016 that Santa Fe al­ready has one of the low­est per capita rates of daily wa­ter use in the dry South­west, at 99 gal­lons, largely the re­sult of in­creased wa­ter rates de­signed to en­cour­age con­ser­va­tion. That com­pares with a rate of 128 gal­lons in Al­bu­querque, al­though util­ity of­fi­cials there said cus­tomer us­age is down this year by about 30 gal­lons.

City of­fi­cials in Santa Fe could not be reached Fri­day to pro­vide more cur­rent sta­tis­tics.

A Santa Fe or­di­nance also calls for out­door wa­ter use re­stric­tions from May 31 through Oct. 31 to keep down use of wa­ter for ir­ri­ga­tion. Vi­o­la­tors of the ir­ri­ga­tion rules can be fined from $20 to $200.

A re­bate pro­gram of­fered by the city also helps spur wa­ter con­ser­va­tion. Home­own­ers can save hun­dreds of dol­lars through the pro­gram in­stalling wa­ter-ef­fi­cient de­vices and out­door wa­ter­sav­ing sys­tems, such as rain­wa­ter catch­ment and drip ir­ri­ga­tion.

Another program the city launched in 2016 allows customers to set up leak alerts through an app, said city spokesman Matt Ross.

The city sees the app as a key to saving water in New Mexico’s current drought-plagued environment.

“The big thing for us right now is to get people to buy in and use the EyeOnWater app,” Ross said.

According to the city Water Conservation Office’s website, an average of 90 gallons of water or more are wasted daily in 10 percent of homes. Common leak sources are valves, faucets, shower heads and toilet flappers. Fixing these problems is rarely costly and can save residential and business customers more than 10 percent on their monthly water bills.

The seventh annual National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation is presented by the Wyland Foundation and Toyota, with support from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense program, the National League of Cities and several for-profit firms like The Toro Co., Conserva Irrigation and Earth Friendly Products.

Wyland is a nonprofit dedicated to protecting waterways, marine life and the world’s oceans, according to the foundation’s website.