As relatively new residents of New Mexico, we have been quite impressed by the water conservation efforts in the Albuquerque area. Even before arriving, we were planning on removing the remaining turf grass in the yard and replace it with xeriscaping. This, combined with changing to drip irrigation has reduced water consumption noticeably at our address.
On the macro level, the map above shows the extent of water conservation success over a 20-year period by depicting areas vegetation increase or decrease (water dependent turf yard removal). Furthermore, the chart below clearly depicts, per capita water usage in Albuquerque has been reduced dramatically since the mid-1990s and is projected to continue its downward trajectory well into the future. Is there still room for improvement? Certainly, particularly the water usage needed for golf courses.
Water conservation programs in the Albuquerque area include, but are not limited to the following:
- Credits of up to $2.00/square foot (depending on the community) of turf grass lawn when replaced with high desert-friendly landscapes towards water utility bills
- DroughtSmart classes for water utility customers to earn a $20 water bill rebate
- Water Smart Academy for landscape professionals
- Doubled fines for wasting water during drought emergencies
- Water restrictions between 11:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. from April 1-through October 31
- Water waste violation hotlines to report inappropriate use of water
- Rebates for the purchases and installation of rain barrels
- Free/discounted rain barrels when your yard is converted into a backyard refuge habitat
- 25 percent “treebate” on the purchase of new desert-tolerant trees
- 25 percent rebate up to $500 for installation of approved WaterSense smart irrigation controllers
- Required installation of flow restriction devices after multiple water violations.
As the data above clearly indicates, water conservation efforts should be widely applauded in the Albuquerque area. Applying these successes elsewhere across the Southwest would go a long way towards reducing water usage and the impacts from drought. Peace!