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Fix-a-Leak-Week features free film screening

To raise awareness of the “EPA WaterSense Fix-a-Leak-Week,” the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District (PAWSD), Southwest Organization for Sustainability (SOS) and Pagosa Brewing Company invite the public to a free Monday night viewing of “Blue Gold: World Water Wars” at the Liberty Theatre in downtown Pagosa Springs. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

This internationally-recognized, 90-minute documentary — produced, directed and edited by Sam Bozzo, and narrated by acclaimed actor Malcolm McDowell — attempts to illustrate shrinking worldwide water supplies, the effects of pollution on limited reserves, and how governments and large corporations are pushing to privatize fresh water sources in developing countries.

Based on the book “Blue Gold: The Battle Against Corporate Theft of the World’s Water” by Maude Barlow and Tony Clarke, the film sheds light on the world’s rapidly approaching water crisis and suggests wars of the future will be fought over water.

The film also insists humans are depleting world water supplies up to 15 times faster than natural systems can replenish them, even as we’re rapidly destroying vast wetlands that naturally filter fresh water. In fact, according to cast member and Slovak water expert Dr. Michal Kravcik, “ ... in fifty years, there will likely be a collapse of the planet’s water sources.”

While some film critics question the verity of certain claims made by Kravcik and other cast members, most agree, the program is well worth watching.

Writing for PopMatters.com, Dan Heaton said, “Painting a frightening picture of violence, greed and desperation, Bozzo reveals another growing crack in our fragile environment. Experts from across the globe make the convincing point that water may eclipse oil as the fuel for international conflict.”

In his review, Heaton added, “Bozzo makes the case that we’re all heading for doom if profits from water continue to outweigh the public good.”

Again, “Blue Gold: World Water Wars” will appear Monday evening (March 15) at the Liberty Theatre. Doors open at 6:30, admission is free and home-brewed Pagosa Brewing Company beverages will be available for purchase. PAWSD representatives will hand out Whole House Water Conservation kits containing a non-toxic dye used in detecting toilet leaks, while all beverage sales proceeds will benefit SOS and the Pagosa Farmer’s Market.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, nationwide water leaks waste an average of 10,000 gallons per home, every year. Collectively, that adds up to more than a trillion gallons, which equals the combined annual water use of Los Angeles, Chicago and Miami; or nearly three times the yearly amount used by Colorado consumers statewide.

In the first two months of 2010, PAWSD staff alerted 37 customers of leaks in their service lines or plumbing, accounting for a total of 1,068,000 gallons of treated water. According to PAWSD Water Conservation Coordinator Mat deGraaf, “Without our new Automated Meter Reading (AMR) technology, these leaks could have gone undetected for weeks or months. We have literally saved customers and the district millions of gallons and thousands of dollars since the implementation of this technology.”

Aside from the film and ongoing use of AMR technology, PAWSD is now utilizing a $49,000 state grant to help local businesses conserve water. Through commercial water audits, select companies will receive fixture retrofits during Fix-a-Leak-Week, which begins Monday and runs to the following Sunday.

The district will also initiate the first phase of a meter-replacement project this spring. According to a recent press release issued by PAWSD Special Projects Manager Sheila Berger, workers will replace older residential meters with new programmable ones that measure water use in smaller increments.

“Systematic meter replacement will enable us to take the fullest advantage of our AMR technology,” Berger wrote. “We anticipate larger water savings and a more targeted water conservation education program as a result of the meter replacement project.”

Earlier this year, PAWSD applied for a Bureau of Reclamation Water Efficiency Grant to help fund the meter replacement project, and expects the bureau to announce its level of funding later this spring.

As part of maintaining 300 miles of water main lines, Berger said PAWSD is working to establish a leak detection and tracking program of its own. “This will occur over time as the AMR program, meter replacement project and an asset management program are further developed,” she said.

Those projects, combined with its water conservation program, represent the district’s Water Accountability Program, an initiative implemented in 2009 to identify and reduce areas of non-revenue water use.

While the district intensifies its focus on reducing regional water waste, it also reminds consumers that they are responsible for finding and fixing water leaks in their home or business. With over 5,200 customer accounts to monitor, PAWSD relies on property owners to do their part.

Following, is a list of things PAWSD suggests property owners can do:

• Check your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is used. If the meter reading differs even slightly, there’s probably a leak.

• If a toilet leaks, a faulty rubber flapper is probably the cause. Replacing the entire flapper is relatively easy and inexpensive, and pays for itself in no time. A toilet that runs constantly wastes at least 200 gallons of water a day.

• Using pipe tape and a wrench will ensure a tight connection and prevent leaky showerheads. At 10 drops per minute, a dripping showerhead wastes more than 500 gallons a year. That’s enough water to run 60 dishwasher loads.

• A leaky faucet dripping once per second wastes more than 3,000 gallons of water a year. Consumers should periodically inspect faucet washers and gaskets for wear, and replace them when necessary.

• Outside garden hoses typically leak where connected to the spigot. If a hose leaks while the water is on, replace the nylon or rubber hose washer and ensure a tight spigot connection with pipe tape and a wrench.

For more information on the EPA WaterSense Fix-a-Leak-Week, visit www.epa.gov/watersense/fixaleak. To learn more about PAWSD water-saving programs, go to www.pawsd.org, or visit www.catchthewaveandsave.com. There, you will also find a trailer to “Blue Gold: World Water Wars.”

chuck@pagosasun.com