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SF water use down 5% this year

SANTA FE, N.M. — Preliminary statistics show water consumption among Santa Fe users has decreased by 5 percent this year compared to 2012 – and at least one city official credits part of the decrease to residents becoming more hip to conservation.

Santa Feans used 2.602 billion gallons of water from January through September. They used 2.732 billion gallons during the same period in 2012.

From January through May, average daily water use this year was a little higher than or about the same level it was in 2012.

But from June through September, Santa Feans were using about one million gallons of water a day less than they had the previous year.

According to Santa Fe water officials, that’s partly due to the City Different’s wet summer months.

But Santa Fe Water Conservation Manager Laurie Trevizo said she also thinks local residents, after enduring years of drought, know how to respond to the environment around them.

“They know that when it gets moister, when there’s more precipitation, they should turn off their irrigation systems and stop watering by hand. I think they did that. I think that was the response,” Trevizo said.

Santa Fe was in a prolonged drought period as recently as 2002-07, she noted. People remember what that time was like and the changes they made to accommodate the drier conditions.

That adaptation has become a way of life and part of the culture for Santa Feans, she said.

Trevizo also pointed to a significant surge in rainwater harvesting rebates given to people this year.

The city’s Water Division has so far processed 66 rebates for barrels or cisterns in 2013. During the whole of 2012, the city handed out 16 rebates.

“I think the wet weather motivated (residents) to participate in that program,” Trevizo said.

The uptick in water use that occurred during the earlier part of 2013 can be attributed in part to a 6 percent increase in the number of city water customers.

But Trevizo also said the past winter was dry and hot, and mused that, with Santa Fe in its third straight year of drought conditions, people felt compelled to do more outdoor watering to protect their vegetation. At the city’s Municipal Recreation Complex, for instance, managers turned the irrigation system on in February, because they were having problems with the turf there, she said.

Looking ahead, Trevizo said she believes water consumption in Santa Fe will continue to decrease. However, it’s more likely to happen through the use of new technologies, probably those aimed at outdoor water use. An example would be a commercial irrigation system that automatically turns off when it starts raining, Trevizo said.

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