Sunday, May 31, 2009

Where Water Conservation Is Serious Public Policy

I spent a few days recently in and near Santa Fe, NM, and believe me, they take water conservation there seriously.

The signs are everywhere, literally - - notices are posted in hotels telling you that linens and towels are changed sparingly, and notes on restaurant menus let you know that water is served only on request.

There are yard watering prohibitions from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., from May 1 to October 31: not your every other day restrictions but flat-out bans during the warmer hours - - half the year.

No cleaning off a hard surface like a sidewalk or driveway with water from a hose.

No grass seed content with more than 25% of water-hungry Kentucky blue grass seed allowed.

No spraying water from overhead devices on trees or shrubs.

Violations bring first-time fines of $20, with higher costs to repeat offenders.

There's a host of additional water use restrictions, rate charges, and real incentives, too - - all designed to reduce water demand in a dry area with a growing population.

It all might make a free-marketer or Libertarian blanche, but the programs are working. 

Details from the City's website, here.


Bill McClenahan said...

A day-time sprnkling ban, rate changes, public signs, programs that work. Sounds like Waukesha.

James Rowen said...

You mean this Waukesha?

Fishmagoot said...

"A day-time sprnkling ban" I'll give you that one, although with the "i" you forgot in "sprnkling". And with changing "ban" to the more honest and accurate term, "restrictions."

". . . rate changes. . ." ? I'll bet in Santa Fe, rate changes are levied on all customers, including industrial and commercial users, and not just on the residential ones, as is done to Waukesha residents. I'll further wager that the Santa Fe water utility has set practical rate tiers that actually encourage conservation, and that they don't hide back-to-back rate increases of 18% (2007) and 15% (2009) in said rate changes so that customers equate conservation pricing with hefty rate hikes.

". . . public signs. . . "? Where are they, please?

". . . programs that work. . . "? Prove it. Other than the conservation rate increases that haven't had time to work yet, and the sprinkling restrictions that were begun in a record (summer) rainfall year, (Severe drought conditions in the years just prior to the restrictions caused summer water use to spike. Subsequent years of sprinkling restrictions have been blessed with average or above-average rainfall also.) what water conservation "programs" have actually been implemented? Where is city-led conservation education? A water-conservation marketing campaign? Financial or tax incentives for switching to low-flow toilets, faucets and other appliances? What about removing the meters that actually encourage watering? Where are true cutting-edge programs* and ideas* that would support your oft-repeated claim of having the best water conservation program in the state, midwest, or country?

Sounds like you'd like the public to think Santa Fe sounds like Waukesha. However, saying it's so doesn't make it so.

*All available for free, on the internet.

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