Water Utility Authority eases up on water-wasters

BERNALILLO COUNTY, N.M. (KRQE) – The Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority is taking it easier on customers who waste water.

For almost two decades, you’d have to pay a fine added to your water bill after just one slip up. But that’s not the case anymore.

“You cannot use a sprinkler between the hours of 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and that’s for all of our customers, not just residents,” Water Conservation Office Katherine Yuhas said.

No longer does violating that policy, or allowing water to run off your property, mean an immediate fine.

“What happens first is you might get a postcard in the mail, it’s a little blue postcard and it says, ‘This is what we saw going wrong with your property, please have a look at things and get it fixed,'” Yuhas said.

In the past, you’d have to pay $20 for your first violation, $50 for the second and so on. But consequences for the second violation have changed, too.

“You get a second postcard in the mail,” Yuhas said. “We’re going to warn you twice.”

The second time around, means that $20 fine.

It sounds less punitive, but the Water Authority says it’s working just as well as fines did.

In May 2015, 155 first-round postcard warnings were given out. Only 20 second-round warnings were given out.

“Those numbers are telling us that our customers are doing a pretty good job with the warnings. We’re pleased by that,” she said.

The change is a ‘thank you’ to customers for lowering their water-usage by more than 100 gallons per person per day since 1995.

“But what’s also happening is sending the warning postcards is freeing us up to do inspections on larger properties that are having bigger water waste problems,” she explained.

As nice as the warnings are, there’s still violators. On Wednesday morning, about 20 minutes after 11, sprinklers were spraying a large patch of grass in Civic Plaza.

Yuhas said she’d warn the City after her interview with KRQE News 13.

If you want to report a violation, you can do it by calling 505-842-WATR and selecting ‘option 5’ or by going online to abcwua.org.

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