Residents are water smart, who’s next?

Residents are water smart, who’s next?
Posted on 06/21/2019
Fire Station #14 received the Certified Water Partner recognition

In 1985, the leadership of El Paso Water knew that residents of El Paso would have to significantly reduce their daily water use for the sake of long-term water sustainability. At the time, each El Pasoan was using 205 gallons per person per day.

The City of El Paso adopted the Water Conservation Ordinance in 1991, which made wasting water a violation. Over the years, the utility has provided a variety of conservation incentive programs, and residents took advantage of rebates for water efficient toilets, low-flow showerheads, and replacing grass turf with low-water use landscaping. Plumbing codes also were changed to ensure new homes integrated water efficient fixtures.

El Pasoans limited their watering to three days of the week and began watering before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m. in the hottest months of the year. Today, residents are using 128 gallons per person per day and have reduced total water consumption even though population is larger.

To achieve continued reductions, EPWater seeks to reduce water consumption among commercial and institutional customers. Work is already underway with targeted sectors, including restaurants, municipal buildings, and apartment complexes, to name a few.

“Residential customers have truly changed the culture of water usage and have brought us this far in our conservation efforts,” said Anai Padilla, Water Conservation Manager. “But the next logical step is to work with our commercial and institutional customers.”

Targeted approach

To qualify to be a Certified Water Partner, a restaurant must demonstrate best practices in their appliances and fixtures.EPWater conducted an independent study of commercial and institutional customers to understand water consumption patterns and prioritize sectors for water efficiency improvements. As an example, the study showed that schools and government buildings make up 8% of EPWater institutional accounts but use 19% of water.

As a result, the Certified Water Partner Program was born. Hundreds of local restaurants were invited to participate in a free water efficiency audit to help them reduce consumption. The program was launched in 2017 and now has 44 certified restaurants.

“To qualify to be a Certified Water Partner, a restaurant must demonstrate best practices in their kitchen equipment and appliances, in their restroom faucets and toilets, any applicable landscaping and washing machine or laundry service,” said Dawn Walker-Hughes, Water Conservation Technician. “Plus they must also meet responsible practices in fats/grease disposal that protect our wastewater systems.”

Moving forward

The Jose Cisneros Cielo Vista Library received the Certified Water Partner recognition.The next priority for improved water efficiency was City of El Paso buildings. Over the last year, more than 50 city facilities received water audits. The zoo, four libraries, six police facilities and 24 fire facilities met the standard. Because many older libraries and police buildings did not meet best standards for water efficiency, EPWater developed an agreement to provide the City of El Paso with a $25,000 grant to assist them in adjusting, repairing or replacing inefficient plumbing fixtures identified in the audit.

“This grant money will allow the city to improve water efficiency where it’s needed,” said Lisa Rosendorf, Chief Communications and Government Affairs Officer. “This will help them save water and money for the city.”

Over the next year, EPWater will continue auditing City buildings, including recreation centers, Sun Metro facilities, the airport and more. The water savings achieved through this program will help El Paso meet its conservation goals for the future. Click here for more information.

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