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PAWSD gets $50,000 for water-saving program

The State of Colorado has awarded the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District (PAWSD) a $48,700 grant to help implement a critical portion of the district’s 2008 Water Conservation Plan.

Working with Great Western Institute, a Colorado-based non-profit, the district successfully procured the “Water Efficiency Grant” to help cover costs associated with performing “SMART WATER audits” and installing water-conserving fixtures at select local businesses.

Last winter, PAWSD conducted pilot SMART WATER audits at various volunteer businesses to gauge potential water savings and community-wide interest in a fixtures retrofit program. In the process, the district evaluates a business’s water use and determines water savings solutions.

Typically, the most obvious and efficient actions include replacement of older water-wasting toilets, shower heads, and spray valves, while adding aerators to existing faucets, thereby reducing unnecessary flow and hot water usage.

The district also performed irrigation audits to evaluate outdoor water usage by certain homeowner associations. Again, the audits identified needed fixture replacements and established annual reporting requirements, which will later detail water use before and after specified retrofits are made. Too, such “before and after” comparisons will measure program benefits from year to year.

For now, the SMART WATER audits are focusing on commercial “high water users,” including restaurants, hotels and motels. The district believes program participants will save 35 percent in water use, once retrofits are complete. In time, the program may be extended to residential customers, as well.

Through the aid of Great Western Institute, PAWSD received the state grant, which not only offsets a portion of the cost of performing audits, but allows acquisition of commercial water-efficient fixtures. Of particular note, approved participants are granted the audits and accompanying fixture retrofits at no cost, whatsoever.

Great Western Institute supports local water conservation planning and implementation efforts, and assists local communities in the pursuit of grants and the development of meaningful, verifiable water conservation programs. In addition, it conducts and trains staff in performing SMART WATER audits for residential, commercial and institutional customers.

In 2010, PAWSD intends to audit and retrofit another 15 area businesses, at an estimated annual savings of approximately 11.5 acre feet, or 3,747,287 gallons of precious water. The district invites all interested businesses to contact Water Conservation Coordinator Mat deGraaf to learn more about the program, or schedule a consultation for consideration in the next phase of SMART WATER audits beginning in March 2010.

Meanwhile, for additional water conservation programs and practices directed at all water users, visit the PAWSD Web site at pawsd.org, click on the Conservation link, then click on Catch the Wave and Save. You can also contact deGraaf at 731-2691.

chuck@pagosasun.com