U.S. Water News Online
EL PASO, Texas -- People in this desert city are learning
to conserve water, which means El Paso residents have used about 1
billion gallons of water less this year than last year when the city
used about 34.5 billion gallons.
The average household used about 155 gallons of water a day _ 4
gallons less than last year, said Anai Padilla, water conservation
``El Paso is a leader in the conservation arena,'' Padilla said.
``But we live in a desert and we should not take water for granted.''
Padilla said the utility hopes to reduce daily water consumption
to 140 gallons a household by 2010.
The region is under pressure to find ways to conserve the water it
has or find other water supplies. The fresh water reserves of the
Hueco and Mesilla bolsons -- the region's major aquifers -- are
shared among New Mexico, Texas, and Mexico and are diminishing
quickly. And the Rio Grande -- the region's main source of surface
water -- can't be relied on during droughts.
Without conservation projects, the city will face water shortages
by 2030, experts have warned.
El Paso resident Beatriz Lita believes she is doing her part to
save the desert's most precious resource.
``I didn't water my lawn this year because I want my grass to die
so that I can put in a rock landscape this summer,'' Lita said. ``My
water bill was becoming too expensive, but I also want to conserve
The city water utility has reimbursed El Paso residents for
replacing turf with xeriscaping and also offers rebates for people
who buy water-saving fixtures and appliances.
So far this year, 484 rebates have been given to customers who
bought refrigerated air conditioners to replace high-water-use water
coolers. Also, 345 rebates have been given to those who bought
water-efficient washing machines. Under a program begun in 1991, the
utility has given 34,000 rebates to replace toilets with water
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