Silent leaks add up

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

Santa Fe is among the most wa­ter-con­ser­va­tion-minded com­mu­ni­ties in the United States. We have the low­est gal­lon­sper-capita-per-day us­age of any ma­jor city in New Mex­ico and we are viewed as a leader in wa­ter con­ser­va­tion in the South­west.

Due to our his­tory of wa­ter scarcity and pe­ri­odic droughts, con­serv­ing wa­ter is part of our cul­ture. It has also taken civic lead­er­ship mixed in with reg­u­la­tions, pric­ing, ed­u­ca­tion, and in­cen­tives to achieve our lead­er­ship po­si­tion.

Lo­cal reg­u­la­tions have been put in place over the past decades to set a min­i­mum-wa­ter-ef­fi­ciency stan­dard for new homes and hope­fully soon for multi-fam­ily dwellings. Ed­u­ca­tion and out­reach con­tin­u­ally re­mind us of the need to con­serve wa­ter. In­cen­tives help mo­ti­vate ex­ist­ing home­own­ers to buy wa­ter-ef­fi­cient ap­pli­ances and save more wa­ter. Higher pric­ing, es­pe­cially at the sec­ond tier of our wa­ter rates, stress to us every month that our­wa­ter is pre­cious and that we should mon­i­tor our use.

An­other as­pect of our im­proved wa­ter-con­ser­va­tion num­bers is the ap­pli­ca­tion of new tech­nol­ogy. A great ex­am­ple of this is the new toi­lets that use as lit­tle as 0.8 gal­lons to flush, com­pared to the old stan­dard toi­lets that used 3.5 gal­lons. These new de­vices work as well as the older toi­lets and save sub­stan­tial wa­ter with each and every flush.

It’s not just toi­lets that have im­proved. The same is true for dish­wash­ers, clothes wash­ers, aer­a­tors, and most other wa­ter-us­ing ap­pli­ances. The En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency (EPA), through its WaterSense pro­gram, has driven the adop­tion of these new tech­nolo­gies over the last decade.

Although it may be hard to see us move to lower than 0.8 gal­lons per flush, there are other tech­nol­ogy ar­eas that we have not even be­gun to im­ple­ment. For ex­am­ple, to­day we ac­cept leaks as part of our built en­vi­ron­ment. Many stud­ies have shown that a large per­cent­age of homes have silent leaks that ac­count for up to 7 per­cent of our over­all wa­ter use!

New leak-de­tec­tion prod­ucts like Uponor’s Phyn Plus can change this. Phyn Plus de­tects leaks and no­ti­fies the home­owner of a leak im­me­di­ately. In cat­a­strophic sit­u­a­tions, it will shut off the wa­ter and no­tify you and your plumber im­me­di­ately. Im­ple­ment­ing these types of tech­nolo­gies will change our ac­cep­tance of silent leaks. A silent leak doesn’t cost a ton of money but a large wa­ter leak costs an aver­age of $9,000, per the in­sur­ance in­dus­try. In a re­cent con­ver­sa­tion, a lo­cal plumber said he had two projects caused by wa­ter leaks. The re­pairs cost the home­own­ers $45,000 and $65,000.

These new wa­ter-leak de­vices will help us save wa­ter and money over the com­ing decades. Just this one de­vice in every home within the City of Santa Fe could po­ten­tially re­duce our over­all wa­ter use by up to five gal­lons per per­son per day.

Wa­ter is a pre­cious and a fi­nite re­source in the South­west. Con­serv­ing wa­ter is up to each and ev­ery­one of us. Reg­u­la­tions, in­cen­tives and out­reach are all im­por­tant, but so is in­cor­po­rat­ing the adop­tion of lead­ing wa­ter sav­ing tech­nolo­gies that work makes good eco­nomic and en­vi­ron­men­tal sense in our part of the world.

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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