Savewater, money with an audit
How much water can I save? Where is the easiest and least expensive place to save? Should I look inside or out? These are just a few of the questions that can be answered by an audit professional. A comprehensive water audit provides a thorough inventory of where water is being used. A professional water auditor will offer a variety of recommendations on how to reduce water use.
If you want to investigate indoor-only water savings yourself, there are a host of websites offering interactive tools and suggestions on howto savewater. Two of these are www.home-water-works.org/ calculator and www.epa.gov/watersense/ watersense-calculator.
The City of Santa Fe has a manual that, although a little dated, provides a great deal of information on how to design and properly install an efficient irrigation system. It can be found at www.santafenm. gov/document_center/document/1473
The city is a national leader in water conservation and has created training for water professionals. It partnered with Santa Fe Community College (SFCC), which offers two classes: QualifiedWater Efficiency Landscapers (QWEL) and Water Efficiency Rating Score (WERS) for residential properties.
The QWEL training offered at SFCC is for irrigation and landscape-design professionals. It is licensed fromthe California QWEL program that was originally developed in partnership with the EPA based on their irrigation water audit program. This course teaches and certifies professionals to audit, design, and improve irrigation systems. More about the QWEL programcan be found atwww. qwel.net and certified QWEL landscapers can be found at www.qwel.net/map.
The WERS program was developed in Santa Fe and is now in use in several other areas around the country, the most recent being Santa Barbara, Calif., which adopted the tool for multifamily dwellings. The City of Santa Fe requires a WERS audit (paid by the builder) and a score of 70 or below for every new single-family home. The closer to zero the score, the more efficient the water use. TheWERS is both an indoor and outdoorwater audit. It is unique among water-auditing programs because it includes alternativewater sources (rainwater, greywater, and blackwater), enabling a homeowner to greatly improve the score. More about theWERS program can be found at www.wers.us and a list of certified WERS professionals can be found at www.wers.us/verifiers/ verifier-directory.
Both of the above classes and many other water courses are available and open to interested residents at the Santa Fe Community College.
A self-administered water audit is a great place to start if you are interested in reducing your water footprint, helping our environment, and saving money. For a professional water audit, hire a QWELor WERS-certified water auditor. The cost will range from $200 to $800 depending on the size and scope of the audit. The audit includes a comprehensive process and very detailed and specific reports. These reports can be a differentiator if you want to sell or buy a home in Santa Fe. With the high water rates in Santa Fe and the surrounding areas, they almost always will pay for themselves in short order. Do an audit and start saving today!
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.