Originally published in the Santa Fe New Mexican#TakeThePledge
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 www.mywaterpledge.com 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.