Summertime is here. Save even more!
Summertime brings higher water rates and higher water bills because it’s irrigation season. There are various easy strategies to reduce your water usage, for example composting, mulching, and slowly changing out plants for a more drought-tolerant landscape. These can be done without professional help and are all very cost-effective ways to save water and money, plus make your plants very happy.
There are many more extensive things you can do to help lower your summer water bill. The City of Santa Fe has been training qualified water efficiency landscape (QUEL) auditors for the last several years.
There are now close to 100 of these professionals who can help identify what you can do to save water outside. This EPA-sponsored program covers the efficiency and effectiveness of your irrigation system. A list of these QWEL raters can be found at www3.epa.gov/watersense/ findapro.
One of the most cost-effective outdoor water-savings step you can take if you have an irrigation system is to install a rain detector. These devices cost $50-$125 (depending on whether wired or wireless) and shut off or pause your irrigation system if it has rained recently. They are available anywhere where irrigation equipment is sold and can be hooked to almost any irrigation controller. These devices will generally pay for themselves in a year or two and are relatively easy to install.
Another water assessment you can do is aWater Efficiency Rating Score (WERS). It looks at the entire house, both inside and outside. This program was invented here in Northern New Mexico to provide a water performance assessment of new and existing homes. The assessment will provide a score as well as a list of recommendations to reduce your water usage. One of the unique aspects of this assessment is that the recommendations can be ranked forwater savings, from highest to lowest, including both indoor and outdoor improvements.
If you are interested in becoming a WERS rather, training for this program is available through Santa Fe Community College with a course coming up in the fall. More information about this program can be found atwww.wers.us or at the SFCC website, www.energysmartacademy.com/water.html
One of the likely recommendations of a WERS assessment is to capture and re-use water. Whether rainwater, greywater, or blackwater, recycling water is one of the most cost-effective long-term solutions to significantly reduce your water bill. Although more expensive up front, these alternatives will supply decades of lowcost, healthy water to your landscape.
Living in the arid Southwest, saving water is in everyone’s self interest. Without this precious resource none of us could live here. There are many, many steps you can take to reduce your reliance on the water grid as well as decreasing your water bill. It all starts with taking one step that is right for you.
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.