Wa­ter En­ergy Nexus

Home - Santa Fe Real Estate Guide - - CONTENT - DOUG PUSHARD

Sum­mer is near, gar­dens are growing, and so is your wa­ter us­age. Con­se­quently, your wa­ter bill will in­crease. Santa Fe is blessed to have mul­ti­ple wa­ter sources (the Santa Fe River water­shed, the Rio Grande, and wells), but con­serv­ing wa­ter is a pru­dent habit in the arid southwest.

Legally we can only pull so­much from the RioGrande and snowmelt de­fines our lim­its in the Up­per Canyon reser­voirs as well as the long-term vi­a­bil­ity of our wells. Our wa­ter di­ver­sity pro­vides us a good deal of wa­ter se­cu­rity, but at a cost. We have some of the high­est peak sum­mer wa­ter rates in the coun­try.

Dur­ing peak sea­son at $21.72 per 1,000 gal­lons over 10,000 gal­lons, th­ese high rates add up quickly. Sum­mer wa­ter bills can quickly run in the hun­dreds of dol­lars. In­stead of wa­ter con­ser­va­tion be­ing a nicety, it is an eco­nomic ne­ces­sity. For­tu­nately, there are a mul­ti­tude of ways to re­duce your peak sum­mer wa­ter bill, some small and oth­ers big, some easy and some hard, but the im­pact is all the same: less wa­ter used and an eas­ier wa­ter bill.

So what is the best way to re­duce your wa­ter bill? For­tu­nately, a new tool has en­tered the mar­ket to make it eas­ier. It is called theWater Ef­fi­ciency Rat­ing Score, WERS for short (in full dis­clo­sure, I am one of the co-au­thors of this new tool) and it rates the ef­fi­ciency of both in­door and out­door wa­ter use. WERS pro­vides a base­line score for the fix­tures inside the home as well as the land­scape out­side the home. This base­line can then be com­pared to pro­posed changes.

Let’s say your home rates a WERS of 90. Af­ter the as­sess­ment you are pro­vided a list of po­ten­tial changes and each of th­ese changes is ac­com­pa­nied by an im­pact to the score. For ex­am­ple, if you in­stall an EPA-la­beled smart con­troller for your ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tem, you will lower the WERS to 85; whereas in­stalling a few rain­bar­rels may lower your score to an 80. With WERS, lower is al­ways bet­ter.

“The Santa Fe Area Home Builders As­so­ci­a­tion is proud of its role in the de­vel­op­ment of the WERS tool,” said the as­so­ci­a­tion’s ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer, Kim Shanahan. “We know wa­ter will truly be a lim­i­ta­tion on fu­ture growth in our re­gion. TheWERS tool will con­firm that con­sci­en­tious builders who go be­yond code-built homes can con­tinue to ac­com­mo­date that growth.”

Mike Col­lignon, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Green Builder Coali­tion, said, “The flex­i­bil­ity of theWERS Pro­gram al­lows for its use on new or ex­ist­ing prop­er­ties. It’s hard to man­age what you don’t mea­sure. By do­ing this kind of anal­y­sis on an ex­ist­ing prop­erty, the owner can bet­ter iden­tify the tar­get ar­eas for im­proved ef­fi­ciency.” More about WERS can be found at www.wers.us, or Santa Fe Com­mu­nity Col­lege has a course June 14-16; see www. sfcc.edu/NM_en­er­gyS­mart_a­cademy/ WERS.

Sav­ing­wa­ter is al­ways in sea­son and now it has be­come eas­ier. You may want to be­come aWERS ver­i­fier to as­sist oth­ers in sav­ing­wa­ter or youmay want to have a WERS per­formed on your home to bet­ter un­der­stand your op­tions. Ei­ther way now is the time to save wa­ter and lower your wa­ter bill.

Doug Pushard, founder of the web­site www.Har­vestH2o.com, has de­signed and in­stalled res­i­den­tial rain­wa­ter sys­tems for over a decade. He is a mem­ber of the Santa FeWater Con­ser­va­tion Com­mit­tee, a life­time mem­ber of the Amer­i­can Rain­wa­ter Catch­ment Sys­tems As­so­ci­a­tion, and an EPAWaterSense Part­ner. He can be reached at doug@Har­vestH2o.com.

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