Congratulations, El Paso! You have adopted the "Less is the New More" lifestyle – conserving water, saving money and living more responsibly in the Chihuahuan Desert. El Pasoans have once again proven why our community is a world leader in water conservation, saving more than a half-billion gallons of water in 2012 when compared to 2011.
Drought in El Paso begins with limited snowfall in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico. This leaves less snowpack to melt and runoff into the Rio Grande and less river water for downstream users, including EPWU.
Typically, we obtain 50 percent of our water from the river. That water is stored upstream in the Elephant Butte and Caballo Reservoirs. But drought conditions have reduced inflows into the reservoirs. The runoff has been less than average in 12 of the past 15 years.
As a result, there is very little water in the reservoirs, and low inflow is projected again this year. The river will be dry until June and river water releases will end early - in August or at the end of July.
We're completing projects that increase our capacity to deliver water throughout the city, and we'll be increasing production at our desalination plant. But conservation is essential to a successful summer. It not only stretches our water supply, it also reduces the demand.
Be aware of your daily habits and look for ways to reduce water use. You might not be wasting water, but you might be using more than you know. Let's conserve water now and avoid mandatory restrictions later.