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New website encourages water conservation in the desert

October 18th, 2013 | by Ian James | Comments

Looking for ways to have a smaller water footprint? The Coachella Valley’s water agencies are launching a website that provides tools and ideas to help.

The website, www.CVWaterCounts.com, goes live on Saturday, and water managers hope it’s one way they may be able to encourage more conservation and lessen the stresses on the desert aquifer.

The site will showcase examples of desert landscaping and will provide information about conservation programs offered by the area’s five public water agencies. Such programs, which vary by water district, include rebates for homeowners who install low-flow toilets, free irrigation controllers in some areas and programs that provide cash incentives for removing lawns.

“The website is a launch pad for anybody that’s interested to take that desire and translate it into action,” said John Soulliere, spokesman for Mission Springs Water District. He said a survey earlier this year found many water customers want more information about ways to save water, and the site is intended to guide people to answers.

The Coachella Valley has long had relatively low water rates, and as a result there has been less financial pressure to conserve than in other areas of California and the Southwest. Water levels in much of the aquifer have declined significantly over the years despite inflows of imported Colorado River water.

Trying to address the problem, some of the valley’s water agencies have adopted measures such as tiered rates that reward conservation and penalize heavy water use.

The new website was created by the Coachella Valley Regional Water Management Group, which is made up of public water agencies. The group used about $75,000 to develop the site from a state grant that provided about $1 million last year for water conservation programs.

The website’s launch on Saturday was timed to coincide with the Desert Horticultural Society’s Desert Garden Community Day.

The site was created to help people take advantage of available water-saving tools and incentives, said Katie Ruark, spokeswoman for the Desert Water Agency.

While the website will initially offer English only, a Spanish-language version is planned as well.

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