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NEIGHBORHOODS IN ACTION
There are some neighborhood associations across the state that resist doing their part for water conservation by requiring that every homeowner use St. Augustine grass and that everyone must have an irrigation system. On the other hand, there are a number of neighborhoods in San Antonio that are leaders in water conservation.
Last year was the first year of the Community Conservation Challenge. The program sponsored by SAWS allows neighborhoods of SAWS customers to set their own water conservation goals and, if they achieve those goals, receive a cash award of $1 times the goal times the number of participants. The award must be used for a pre-approved group project. In 2002 Dream Hill Estates near Medical Center was the top performer. High Country Village in the northwest had the second highest savings. Both neighborhoods used their cash award to repair their neighborhood’s clubhouse.
In 2003, 37 groups are participating in the Community Challenge. As a further motivation to save water, groups in 2003 have the opportunity for monthly awards. The competition extends over a six-month period this summer that began in May. May was very hot and dry but a group of Southeast-side families associated with the St. Benedict’s CYO boys’ baseball team organized to save 10% water over the same month over an average of the last three years. They are participating in order to buy the team new baseball equipment and uniforms.
In June many of the participating neighborhoods saved over 20% of the water used in the comparison period. Leading the pack was the 48 SAWS customers signed up with the Madonna Center team. They reduced water use by 32%. Norma Funari, Executive Director of the Center, says her neighborhood is a low water using group to begin with, but they still had lots of old high-flow toilets. Taking advantage of the free low-flow toilets from SAWS they replaced high flow in the participating homes. On an average, that will reduce water use by nearly 1000 gallons/month in a household.
Ms. Funari also credits the new xeriscape plantings around the Center’s soccer fields as inspiring area residents to reduce their own landscape watering. Volunteers from Southwest Research Institute completed the landscaping.
Running a close second in June’s Community Challenge was the University Oaks neighborhood. They have an inspiring new low water use landscape around their clubhouse and also took advantage of the free low-flow toilet offer. In the case of University Oaks the Boy Scouts of Troop 777, including Eagle Scout candidates, did much of the work. They and other volunteers led by Ray Allen not only planted the landscape, they are conducting classes related to water use and science at the site.
Other neighborhoods that achieved outstanding water savings in June are: Eden HOA, 26%; Oak Hollow HOA, 26%; Valencia HOA, 20%; Thunderbird HOA, 20%; and Skyline HOA, 18%. To view all the groups and their water conservation success go to the SAWS website at saws.org, click on Conservation from the top banner, and then click on Community Challenge listed on the right.
If your neighborhood or other group wants information about the 2004 Community Challenge, now is the time to contact Janie Guzman, Ed Wilcut, or Karen Guz at SAWS. Contact them at 704-7354. They can provide literature, information over the phone, and/or speak to your group. It takes a group of 25 SAWS customers to participate in the Community Challenge.
Requested additional paragraph be added 8/25/03:
The Neighborhood Resource Center (NRC) and Taco Cabana are offering an opportunity to support neighborhoods. Mark your calendar for Wednesday, September 17. If you purchase food from Taco Cabana between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. on that day, 20 percent of your purchase goes to support the NRC. Just state that you are “there to support the Neighborhood Resource Center”. For more information visit www.nrc-sa.org.