For The Answer
Week of June 7, 2004
Submitted by Calvin R. Finch, PhD, Conservation Director and Horticulturist, San Antonio Water System
Water Conservation Success in San Antonio is Recognized
Are you doing anything different in the way you use water such as turning the water off while you brush your teeth, using a SAWS certified car wash instead of running water down the road while you wash your car? Or maybe you have replaced your high water use toilet with a low flow model. Based on the reduction of per capita water use in San Antonio, most of us are doing something to reduce water use. The net result is that San Antonio has emerged as an example for the rest of the nation of what a community can do to reduce water use.
Per capita water use has dropped by about one-third since the late 1980’s. That means that, since 1991, San Antonio’s population has grown by about 300,000 people but we are not using any more water now than we did then.
The reduction in water use has occurred in all segments of our community. In addition to the examples cited above, homeowners and businesses have reduced water use on landscapes by only applying what they need. Golf courses are using recycled water instead of potable water. Industry has replaced inefficient water use technology with more efficient technology. The apartment industry, new home builders, green industry, and other groups are providing leadership in reducing water waste.
SAWS has an aggressive water conservation effort that includes education, incentives, and enforcement. There is opportunity for everyone to be on the Conservation Team.
The San Antonio effort has not gone unnoticed by state and national entities interested in water conservation. In fact, 2004 has been a year of awards recognizing San Antonio’s success in water conservation.
The latest award was presented to the SAWS Water Conservation Planner Eddie Wilcut in Portland, Oregon by the National Association of Environmental Professionals (NAEP) at their annual conference. After naming the SAWS Water Conservation effort as the Outstanding Water Conservation Program in the U.S. in 2003, the group also went on to recognize the effort with the President’s Award for the Outstanding Environmental Program for the year.
Last month the Texas Chapter of the American Water Works Association named the SAWS Community Challenge Program as the Best Direct Conservation Program by a Large Utility in Texas in 2003. The Community Challenge provides cash rewards to neighborhoods and other groups that set and achieve their own conservation goals. The cash awards are used for group projects.
In March SAWS Interim CEO Leonard Young and Don Macaulay and Patrick Garcia of the Community Conservation Committee attended the annual conference of the Texas Water Conservation Association in Houston to receive the organization’s award for Texas Conservationist of the Year. The award recognized the San Antonio community and SAWS for the success in water conservation in the context of a search for new water resources and water quality protection. The Community Conservation Committee is a group of citizens representing the business and residential interests appointed by the SAWS Board of Trustees to advise them on water conservation issues.
Communications is a key part of the Conservation success. Led by Communications Director John Boggess, SAWS received awards in a large number of communication categories at the Texas Chapter of American Water Works Association at Arlington including website, conservation writing and the H2O University. H2O University is an educational effort for San Antonio’s youth and adults that includes water conservation and water quality protection. In June Director Boggess will represent SAWS at the National AWWA Conference in Orlando, Florida to receive the award for the Outstanding Communication Effort for a Water Utility in the nation.
For more information on the awards and SAWS Water Conservation programs visit the SAWS website at www.saws.org.