SANTA FE – A New Mexico mayor who campaigned on reducing water consumption appears to use significantly more water than most of his neighbors, documents show.
During certain months, Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber uses upward of eight times more water than the average single-family residential customer in the city he leads, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported .
According to documents obtained under an open records request, his water usage is only going up. “When it comes to water, I need to do better,” Webber said in a statement to The New Mexican. “I encouraged people to conserve water; I need to do better, too.”
Webber and his wife, Frances Diemoz, live in a nearly 5,000-square-foot gated home valued at nearly $1.15 million.
Webber said he doesn’t have a swimming pool or a big lawn, and suspects an aging irrigation system is partly to blame for his high water usage.
“We bought our home 15 years ago, with an irrigation system that is over 30 years old,” wrote Webber, who declined a personal interview with the New Mexican but answered questions submitted in writing. “The irrigation system is obsolete and while we continually did patchwork fixes, we needed to have replaced major parts of it. The Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation is the stimulus for me – like everyone else – to do better with water use.”
The mayor’s challenge is part of a national community service campaign to see which leaders can best inspire the residents of their respective communities “to make a series of informative and easy-to-do online pledges at mywaterpledge.com to use water more efficiently, reduce pollution, and save energy,” the city said in an April 4 news release.
Last year, the challenge awarded more than $50,000 in prizes to nearly 300 people nationwide.
Besides Santa Fe, Albuquerque and Gallup are the only other New Mexico cities participating in the challenge.
The mayor said he’s taking steps to use less water. “A water expert is evaluating our entire system so we can replace all outdated components,” he wrote. “I’ve (also) scheduled a water conservation assessment from the city’s conservation experts to help identify ways to use less water.”
Almost half of New Mexico is struggling with extreme drought conditions.