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Letters sent to city water users

4/28/2014

By MATTHEW KENWRIGHT

mkenwright@dailynews.net

The city of Hays delivered letters earlier this month to 2013's top 15 percent of water users to remind them about water sustainability.

The 1,030 notifications sent to residences mostly were met with positive feedback, said Jason Riegel, Hays water conservation specialist. The approach repeats last year's mass-mailing.

"A lot of people were appreciative to know where they stand or appreciative to learn more about the rebate programs," Riegel said.

The city did not account for the size of residences, and many recipients explained five to six people lived at their address. In-home day cares also were high water consumers.

The letter stated the users might reach the second conservation tier, which bills at $10.30 per 100 cubic feet of water. The average residential customer uses 6,400 cubic feet.

"If you are receiving this letter, it is highly likely you reached the second conservation tier at least one month in 2013," stated an excerpt from the letter. "Using more than 1,000 cubic feet (7,480 gallons) per month above your winter average usage will place you in the second conservation tier."

Larger households can benefit the most from adopting water conservation measures, he said. The letter included such tips as checking for leaks, taking advantage of rebates for more efficient toilets and clothes washers, the shower head exchange program and free faucet aerators.

The notice also included a reminder about the ban on outdoor water use from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

There is no schedule for more letters to be sent, but city staff is committed to ensuring residents maintain their "heightened awareness" of the drought conditions, he said.

"We're going to do everything we can to try to have our customers be as water-wise as they can and to critically think about their indoor and outdoor water use," Riegel said.

Toby Dougherty, Hays city manager, said, "The letter wasn't meant to be punitive or accusatory or anything like that. It was just here's what the average household uses, here's what you used."

In addition to promoting existing programs, city staff aims to engage younger generations. They hope to partner with local schools in the fall and offer educational programs for children in the first through third grades.