By A.T. Gilbert
While residents throughout the Central Valley breathed a sigh of relief after the recent rainstorms, representatives of the Clovis public utilities department caution against relaxing any efforts to conserve water conservation.
According to junior engineer Ray Empelo, the per capita usage of water has decreased since last year, which means that citizens are being mindful of their usage and where their water comes from. That’s great news, but there is still more work to be done.
“We offer a wide range of services through the public utilities department, such as landscape audits, interior audits, and tips on which plants are drought-resistant and therefore use less water,” Empelo said. “We also have a rebate program that can help residents purchase more water-efficient toilets and washing machines.”
Empelo stated that a good number of residents have already taken advantage of these rebates, so movement is being made towards water conservation. The public utilities page on the city of Clovis website also offers a comprehensive checklist to make sure residents are thinking both short and long-term in their efforts to save water. It’s also worth noting that these services – such as the landscape and internal audits – are free of charge to residents, including the provision of shower heads and faucet aerators.
Lisa Cohen, assistant public utilities director for the city, also wants residents to keep water in mind when they are planning landscaping. Whether it’s for a new home or homeowners who are looking to re-landscape their properties, all plans should be in accordance with the Water Efficient Landscaping Ordinance.
“There are a lot of different plants and shrubs that are both drought-resistant and beautiful, such as buffalograss or myoporum. These can act as groundcover, but they don’t use nearly as much water as a typical fescue grass lawn would use,” Cohen said. “Anyone interested in learning more about water-saving landscape ideas should visit the Clovis Botanical Gardens. The gardens contain many of these plants, so residents can easily recognize them when they get ready to landscape.”
The city of Clovis, aside from providing these services, is also doing their part to conserve water. According to Cohen, the city has implemented purple water piping in public areas, such as parks and landscaping of public buildings. The purple pipe indicates that the water has been recycled from the wastewater treatment plant and treated enough to use for landscaping. It costs about half as much as potable water, and the recycled water is not wasted. According to Cohen, although purple piping is useful only for large-scale projects, it has been adopted by some users in the private sector, including CalTrans and Clovis Community Hospital.
Cohen continues to caution residents that although there has been some rain, everyone needs to continue their diligence.
“We are still in a drought. Even if the average rainfall does occur this year, we have had three seriously dry years, so we are still going to be in a drought,” she said. “I continue to encourage all residents to be mindful of their usage, pay attention to the watering schedule – which is also posted to our website – and use the resources that are available to make their homes as water-efficient as possible.”
The City of Clovis Public Utilities department can be reached at 559-324-2600. To schedule an audit, call the department at 559-324-2609. Visit the public utility department page on the city of Clovis website at www.ci.clovis.ca.us/Departments-and-Services/Public-Utilities to find out more about water conservation.