Another way to find more water for our river is through conservation. While it is true that Santa Fe water customers have been doing a better job each year with water conservation, there is much more that could be done. Around the country, cities are using less water per capita than they did just five years ago, thanks to increasing awareness about simple ways to conserve water, such as low-flush toilets, improved shower heads, etc. Here are additional ways to gain greater impact on water conservation:
1. Harvesting rainwater. Everyone should capture water before it becomes stormwater in raingardens and rainbarrels. This can provide a valuable substitute for using City water for landscaping and help replenish our groundwater supply. Since landscape irrigation accounts for a big portion of peak summer demand — which is also when the river is most in need of water for its environmental health — capturing runoff in raingarden structures and storing roof-top water in rainbarrels can be an important part of meeting the river’s water needs.
2. Improved landscape water use. There are many small ways of saving water in the garden, which add up to significant savings. Save Water Santa Fe’s site on Waterwise Demonstration Gardens gives lots of ideas.
3. More efficient household appliances that use water. Of course your toilet is low-flow, but are you using a front-loading washer? Are you using the shortest cycle on your dishwasher? Does your shower heat up instantly? Appliances you use every day can yield considerable water savings. The City of Santa Fe offers rebates to replace appliances to those with higher efficiency and to implement water saving tools.
4. Water re-use. From dumping the pan of dish water on the plants, to configuring your septic tank to convert black water to grey water and connecting it all to a drip irrigation system, there is a world of creativity awaiting you in the challenge of re-using water. The more times water can be re-used within the home and garden, the less water you will need from the City water supply and the more water will be available for our thirsty river.
For an overview of the City’s long-term plan for water conservation, see the Water Conservation Office’s website, Save Water Santa Fe.