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Rewind: Tale of Two Cities, Water Recapture

January 20, 2011

Albuquerque and Santa Fe have had water conservation programs for well over a decade, and both have been very successful. Yet their approaches to saving this precious resource in the arid Southwest are different. What lessons can we learn by comparing these cities?

Both have made tremendous strides in conserving life-giving water. Since 1995, Albuquerque has reduced per capita use by 36%, Santa Fe by 42%. Santa Fe’s water use is now substantially less than the US average, while Albuquerque is likely to fall below the US average soon.

But Santa Fe and Albuquerque have very different water usage numbers. Albuquerque started off with much higher per capita water use (250 gallons compared to Santa Fe’s 168 gallons in 1995). Currently, this city just 60 miles south of Santa Fe uses almost 60 gallons more per person per day. How can this be?

Those few miles make a big difference in climate, precipitation and watering season. Albuquerque’s average summer temperature is 6 degrees warmer than Santa Fe’s, and it has on average about 5” less annual rainfall and a growing season that is 2 months longer; consequently it is no surprise that the area uses about 40% of its annual water consumption for outdoor use while Santa Fe uses just 14%. This difference, coupled with the fact that Albuquerque needs more water for industrial and commercial customers, accounts for the base water difference (159 gallons versus 101 gallons per person per day). Despite these differences, both cities should be commended for their significant reductions.

Read rest of the article on HarvestH2O

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