Water Authority hopes to educate customers to reduce water waste

The Albuquerque Water Utility Authority is taking a new approach this year: Instead of punishing water wasters, they want to try and educate them first. 

Usually, residents who are wasting water are hit with a fine on their first offense, but that won’t be the case this year. 

In New Mexico, every drop of water is precious. On average, Albuquerque sees less than 10 inches of rain a year. 

“We live in an arid climate so we have to maximize the use of our water,” said Bruce Thomson, a University of New Mexico research professor.

Greg Miller, a landscape architect with MRWM, says it takes about 44 inches of rain to keep a lawn alive. 

“When we get eight inches of rain a year, we have to make up that deficit somewhere,” said Greg Miller. 

It’s no surprise that 40 percent of Albuquerque’s water goes to irrigation. Meanwhile, 90 percent of wasted water is due to problems with irrigation systems, such as leaks, especially below ground. 

“A lot of times just replacing or repairing an irrigation system could make a big help,” said Greg Miller. 

That’s why the Water Authority is making changes to its Water Waste Ordinance. Instead of slapping a wasteful resident with a fine for a first offense, they’ll start with a warning. 

“We want to give folks an opportunity to fix whatever problems are causing the water waste before we get punitive with a fine,” said David Morris, Albuquerque Water Utility Authority. 

The Water Authority says if protecting our resources isn’t incentive enough, the shock of seeing your water bill might be. 

“If you have a leak or a problem you’re not fixing it could run up to hundreds, maybe even thousands of dollars, depending on the size of your yard,” said Morris. 

That warning comes with 15 days to fix the problem. The Water Authority is also offering free irrigation consultations. 

KRQE News 13 asked what neighborhoods in Albuquerque use the most water. According to the Water Authority, the Tanoan Country Club area is high on the list. 

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