El Paso's Smart Water Management

Despite a growing population and limited amounts of rainfall, the city of El Paso, Texas, has been able to effectively manage its water supplies -- and reduce use.
August 13, 2010, 6am PDT | Nate Berg
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Grist takes a look a the city's water issues of the years, and what officials have done to get the city's water needs in alignment with its supplies.

"Today, El Paso is a city that's hyper conscious of water. The use of low-water plants and crushed rocks in landscaping -- a practice known as xeriscaping -- is the norm. Neighbors rat out neighbors if they see water runoff in the streets. And water news gets front-page treatment in the local press. But that wasn't always the case.

Twenty years ago, El Pasoans were blissfully wasting water. Lavish lawns were everywhere and the Hueco Bolson, the aquifer that provided 90 percent of El Paso's water, was being depleted by a foot and a half per year. Then, in 1991, the El Paso Water Utilities board put together a long-term plan. The highest priority was a conservation program which included a mix of strategies -- some compulsory, some incentive-based, and some voluntary."

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Published on Tuesday, August 10, 2010 in Grist
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