How One Small City Makes a Big Impact on Resource Management

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This is a guest post by Eric West.

For Small Cities Month, NLC asked its member cities what they were most proud of. The city of Santa Fe, New Mexico, is proud of its heritage as the oldest capital city in North America; it was established by Europeans thirteen years prior to the settlement of Plymouth Colony by the Mayflower Pilgrims. It is proud of being one of the most distinctive urban environments in the country, with a combination of historic buildings and distinctive Spanish-Pueblo architecture based on the adobe and wood construction of the past.

But as the city looks to the future, it also proud of how well it helps residents save water.

Santa Fe has a comprehensive website with numerous water conservation resources for residents, including water saving tips, educational materials, regulatory information and more. The city also offers rebate and incentive programs for high-efficiency toilets and clothes washers, rain barrels and cisterns, and water-free urinals for both homes and businesses. According to the website, “The rebates are based on the cost of water saved, which makes the rebate amount typically higher than other rebate programs. With the implementation of the rebate program, customers have an incentive to install water conservation technologies that maximize efficiency in their homes or businesses.”

The city’s EyeOnWater app allows Santa Feans to monitor their water usage on an hourly basis using a smartphone or desktop computer — and the technology can help residents find and fix leaks before they get a big bill, saving time, money and water. According to Santa Fe Public Utilities Director Nick Schiavo, there are currently more than 200 residents utilizing the technology. “We’ve gotten some feedback from customers who’ve set the leak alerts and contacted us afterwards. They understand the value of being informed sooner rather than later about leaking service lines.”

The city also recently hosted the inaugural Next Generation Water Summit at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center. The first-of-its-kind national event featured three educational tracks focusing on emerging policy development, building design and construction, and water conservation tools and technologies.

Finally, since 2014, the city of Santa Fe has partnered with the NLC Service Line Warranty Program to offer homeowners optional warranties for their water and sewer service lines. This program provides protection against unforeseen and potentially costly repairs for a low monthly fee, with no deductibles or service fees. The work is typically performed within 24 hours by licensed, local plumbers who contact the customer within one hour of filing a claim. The program helps cities across the nation conserve water by addressing water and sewer line breaks quickly and thoroughly.

The city of Santa Fe is proof that small cities can take the lead and set an example for larger cities when it comes to resource management. Stay tuned for more stories about the ways small cities make a big impact as we celebrate Small Cities Month in June.

For more information on the NLC Service Line Warranty Program, please contact Program Manager Charlie McQuillan at (202) 626-3160 or mcquillan@nlc.org.

Featured image: Santa Fe, New Mexico, residents can monitor their water usage on an hourly basis using the city’s EyeOnWater app. (Getty Images)

About the author: Eric West is the senior director of strategic partnerships at the National League of Cities’ enterprise partner, Utility Service Partners. The National League of Cities offers its member cities access to residential emergency repair plans through our partnership with Utility Service Partners Inc., a HomeServe USA company.