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Albuquerque's Aggresive Water Programs Make A Difference
by Steve Miller


Albuquerque, a city in the arid Southwestern United States, has grown by 120,000 residents in the last 20 years but consumed less water last year than in any previous year since 1985.

The city launched its conservation program in 1995 after federal studies showed that the city's underground water supply was being depleted. The city-county water utility serves about 482,000 people.

In 2004, estimated per-person water use was down to 177 gallons daily, according to figures that were released. That's just short of Albuquerque's
10-year goal, which was to have reached 175 gallons per-person.

"We can do even better, but Albuquerqueans deserve a big, big pat on the back," Mayor Martin Chavez said.

Albuquerque has implemented some of the broadest array of water conservation programs of any city in the US, including:

· Mandatory summer watering restrictions
· Rebates for harvesting rainwater
· Rebates for installing low-flow toilets
· Rebates for relandscaping yards to xeriscape
· Rebates for changing out high use washing machines for low water use units

Almost 60,000 rebates have awarded since the programs inception according to the city.

Overall, in 2004, the utility pumped about 32.6 billion gallons of water, the
lowest amount since 1985. Water use peaked in 1995 when conservation was just getting started at 40.3 billion gallons.

In 1994, Mayor Martin J. Chavez and the Albuquerque City Council called for a 30% reduction in water use in ten years. The response by City water customers has been extraordinary, with per person usage dropping from 250 gallons per capita per day (gpcd) when the program began in 1995, to 193 by the end of 2003. When UAW (unaccounted for water) is deducted, usage actually drops to 175 gpcd.

In 2005, the city is introducing additional programs to help the city meet it's 2014 goal. These include 6 free xeriscaping design templates and free water conservation seminars.

The local water utility expects by 2007 to start diverting river water to help supply its customers. But the diversion will be limited to half of what the city wants unless water use is cut to 175 gallons daily. That condition was set by the state engineer.

The future of Albuquerque depends greatly upon the availablilty of water for the generations to come. Water conservation is one of the surest, cheapest ways that Albuquerqueans can insure that future.The city has announced a new water conservation goal - to reduce water usage by 40% by 2014!

Given the area is in the midst of a drought and with a population growing this type of goal is not just good politics, it is required.

For more information on the city of Albuquerque's programs, go to: http://www.cabq.gov/waterconservation/






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