Since 1996, conservation efforts by Water Utility Authority customers have succeeded in saving some 100 billion gallons of water, according to Authority figures released today. In a Thursday ceremony to commemorate the achievement and thank customers for their efforts, Authority Chair Martin Heinrich said the 100 billion gallons – about three years’ worth of water – is “just the beginning” when it comes to preserving Albuquerque’s aquifer and ensuring a future water supply
Standing in front of a six-million-gallon reservoir tank, Heinrich said conservation must remain a top priority and promised a renewed commitment to reaching a water usage goal of 150 gallons per person per day in the next seven years. Today’s per-person usage is approximately 165 gallons, compared with 252 gallons in 1994. That reduction has allowed aquifer pumping to decrease from 40 billion gallons annually in 1994 to 31 billion gallons today – in spite of population growth.
Heinrich credited visionary leadership and a responsive citizenry for the conservation program’s success.
“City leaders developed a strategy, and our customers made personal commitments to cut back on their water use,” he said. “They replaced 59,000 high-flow toilets with low-flow fixtures. They converted nearly 5 million square feet of grass to xeriscapes. And they adopted a wide variety of other conservation measures.”
Driving the Authority’s conservation push is an extensive rebate program that has delivered more than $8 million in conservation incentives to Albuquerque residents and businesses. As part of Friday’s ceremony, Heinrich announced an increase in Authority rebates for low-flow toilets to $150, and outlined plans to create an Outdoor Efficiency rebate program to encourage the use of multi-setting sprinkler timers, rain sensors, rainwater harvesting, and high-efficiency sprinkler heads. He urged residents to visit the Authority’s web site at www.abcwua.org/waterconservation for more information on rebate programs, and called on Authority customers to keep conserving.
“We are completing the San Juan-Chama Drinking Water Project, which will provide an additional supply starting next year,” he said. “We are pursuing innovative re-use programs. But water will continue to be a scarce and precious commodity. We must continue to conserve as part of a sustainable solution for Albuquerque’s future.”