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City says rebate programs cut water consumption

Wednesday, November 26, 2008 by Austin Monitor

The City of Austin’s rebate programs for property owners who install low-flow and energy-efficient fixtures is having an impact on the city’s overall water consumption. Figures presented to the city’s Water Conservation Implementation Task Force show the new fixtures installed as a result of those rebates contributed to a peak-day reduction of 838,052 gallons this summer. That surpassed last year’s peak-day reduction attributed to the rebate program of 754,329 gallons.


The city had set a goal of saving more than 1 million gallons during the peak usage period with those low-flow toilets, washing machines, and irrigation systems installed at homes and apartment complexes around Austin. While the rebate program did not quite reach that milestone, water conservation manager Sonja Stefaniw said department officials had high hopes for the upcoming year. Staffers are being added to the water conservation program and the number of customers participating in the rebate program is continuing to grow.


In 2007, about 26 percent of the Austin Water Utility’s customers took advantage of one of the conservation rebates available. In 2008, that grew to 39 percent. “We’re going to move forward in the new year with new programming and more staff, and hopefully getting more and more participation,” Stefaniw said.


Staffers also presented data to the task force tracking citywide water usage since Oct.1, when the city’s mandatory watering restrictions for single-family homeowners were lifted. While those restrictions will resume May 1, multi-family and commercial properties face restrictions year-round. Those properties are limited to watering on Tuesday and Friday.


Water Conservation Program Coordinator Dan Strub said it was apparent that mutli-family and commercial properties were continuing to adhere to those requirements, since Tuesday and Friday have consistently been the city’s peak water usage days this fall. “This is a trend in the right direction. Having peaks on those days is something we want to see this time of year,” he said. “It means those properties are watering just twice a week instead of every day,”


The Task Force also elected new officers at Monday night’s meeting. Current Chair Jennifer Walker will move to the position of Vice-Chair, and Susan Butler was elected as the new Chair.

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