Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

Mayor Raises Bar on Lowering Water Use.(Final)

Byline: Isabel Sanchez Journal Staff Writer

* New goal is 150 gallons a person a day after 2005

Albuquerque residents have done so well at conserving water -- using 197 gallons a day a person, compared with 250 when the conservation program started in 1995 -- that Mayor Martin Chavez wants them to do even better.

Chavez said he's "raising the bar" on the goal to lower water use. The old goal was 175 gallons a person by 2005; the new goal is 150 gallons a person within a decade after that.

To help the city reach its new conservation goal of a 40-percent reduction in water use from 1995 to 2014, Chavez announced a new $500 rebate for people who trade in a swamp cooler for refrigerated air. The rebates could be available as soon as July.

"Albuquerque is doing a marvelous job in water conservation," Chavez said, bringing overall use down 26 percent at the end of last year. The reduction goal in 1995 was 30 percent by 2005.

Going beyond the 2005 goal of 175 gallons a day to 150, he said, will make "Albuquerque the most water-efficient city in western America."

Plans to reach the new goal are to be developed by city departments by August.

"I know we'll get there," Chavez said at the conclusion of a news conference at Casa Rondena, a vineyard in Los Ranchos.

The rebate program, which offers homeowners money for converting to xeriscape, low-flow toilets and low water washing machines, will expand over the next two years to include incentives for gray water systems, low-water-use dishwashers and waterless or low-water urinals.

"Gray water" is what's left after a shower or load of laundry. Instead of going down the drain, a system can be installed to save it for use in the garden.

The amounts offered by existing rebate programs might be increased, according to the city's new goals.

Other conservation strategies in the works:

* Licensing the landscape industry to ensure its workers, from architects and designers to nurseries, know how to use water efficiently.

* For 10 years beginning in 2005, city parks will use no more water than they did in 2004. That will force conservation, Chavez said.

* Requiring commercial car washes within five years to recycle water.

* Submeters in mobile home parks and apartment buildings, because, Chavez said, "You can't have good water conservation if everyone is on the same meter."

The city will also develop a plan to reduce its "unaccounted for water" by replacing and fixing meters and lines. …

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