As the Incline Village General Improvement District redistributes its water and sewer rates to pressure high-volume users into conserving, experts offer ways customers can save on their utility bills.
"I don't think people are really aware at how much water they consume on a monthly basis and now we're able to furnish them with the information and tools to learn how to make the most out of less," said IVGID Conservationist Sarah Tone.
Tone said one of the causes of excessive water use comes from people watering at the wrong time of day and for too long.
"The soil in the area is very porous and watering for an hour is useless, it all goes down into the ground," Tone said. "And watering in the heat of the day is wasteful because of evaporation."
Tone said that watering becomes less necessary if residents use native plants in place of turf or lawn.
"Turf really takes a lot more watering, whereas, if you plant native and non-invasive vegetation, it's acclimated to what moisture the environment offers and not dependent on more," she said.
For people with swimming pools, spas and landscaped water features, Tone offers ways to make sure less water is wasted in these large capacity water users.
"For pools and spas, it's best to keep them covered to cut down on dissipation and for these as well as a re-circulating water feature, treating the water is very essential," Tone said. "The more use you get out of the water the less you use and the more you save."
Tone said her staff is constantly on the lookout for people who may be intentionally or unintentionally using too much water.
"Our water conservation control team is always out and about, looking for people who may be using more water than they have to," Tone said. "It's not a situation where people get fined, we just want people to be educated."
Waste Not, the district's conservation program, will also help people discover the best way to irrigate their property and even teach people to read their own meter.
"Again, we feel if we can educate people on how to monitor their use, it becomes a challenge to them, like a game," Tone said. "And we're getting a great response."
Another way IVGID customers are getting the message is through their monthly bills.
"If a customer is running up more than $50 a month (70,000 gallons), we send them out a notice offering to come out and check over their irrigation system," Tone said. "Again, no fine, just a way to educate people into doing the right thing and when people actually see their water consumption, they really respond."
With the new rates scheduled for a public hearing later this month and with implementation scheduled for August, Tone said it's important for people to get in the habit of using water wisely.
"The new rate distribution is really aimed at the excessive water consumer. It's a way to hopefully wake people to the need for conservation," Tone said. "Water is an exhaustible resource and it's up to all of us to make sure it's not abused."
For water conservation tips, call 831-8603 or 832-1284.
Ways to conserve water
• Use native plants in place of turf or lawn
• Water for a shorter period of time in early morning or late afternoon
• Cover pools and spas and treat the water in them