Schriever setting water conservation example
By Scott Prater, Schriever Sentinel
/ Published March 27, 2012
SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Between 1950 and 2000 the U.S. population doubled.
That Congressional Research Service figure may seem daunting, but Frank Kinder, water conservation specialist for Colorado Springs Utilities says demand on public water systems has more than tripled during that same time frame. According to a U.S. Government Accountability Office report, representatives from 36 states said they anticipated local, regional or statewide water shortages through 2013.
Those are just a few reasons why Schriever leaders have adopted an ambitious water conservation agenda for the base and also encouraged Air Force members, civilians and their families to practice good water stewardship.
"Water conservation is part of the Air Force's Energy Program to reduce consumption of our nation's natural resources," said Col. Jonathan Webb, 50th Mission Support Group commander. "It's incumbent upon everyone, both at work and at home, to conserve their use of water, gas and electricity."
Capt. Rebecca Freeman, 50th Civil Engineer Squadron chief of asset optimization, explained that all DoD facilities fall under Executive Order 13514, which requires facilities to reduce their water consumption by 2 percent every year through 2020.
"We're constantly looking for opportunities to conserve," Freeman said. "We have a resource efficiency manager whose sole responsibility is to locate those opportunities and develop projects to mitigate inefficiencies. As long as we can justify the payback for those projects we have a specific funding stream to finance them."
Since 2005, the base has reduced its maintained lawn areas from 49 to nine acres.
Once an interior project to install low-flow plumbing fixtures (toilets and urinals) in Buildings 720 and 400 is complete this fall, the base expects to save an additional 6 million gallons of water annually, a savings of roughly 7 percent.
To put that in perspective, the base consumed a total of 80 million gallons in fiscal year 2011.
"The executive order uses 2007 as its baseline," Freeman said. "Based on that standard we should be consuming 10 percent less than we did in 2007. The good news is we're already at 40 percent savings and we're looking to continue that upward trend going forward."
People who live on base can rest assured they're already conserving more water than the average home owner. When the Tierra Vista community was established in 2010, housing units were designed with water-friendly landscaping and water-efficient appliances.
Even considering that on-base homes do include small areas of grass in their back yards, the lawns are smartly managed.
"The irrigation in back yards and the drip lines for the shrubs and trees are controlled by Tierra Vista," said Devon Forhan, Tierra Vista community manager at Schriever. "We use a water optimization system which currently uses sensors to detect moisture in the ground at different areas and can override the water schedule. We are also working on implementing the use of a weather station in lieu of the sensors, which will more accurately let us know how much moisture our ground is getting."
Off-base home owners can add value to their residences and save money as well, says Kinder. People can decrease their home's water consumption by taking a few easy steps.
"Toilets are by far the main source of water use in a home, accounting for nearly 30 percent of an average home's indoor water consumption," he said. "Replacing these toilets with more modern energy efficient toilets can save nearly 11 gallons per toilet in your home every day."
Leaks are another primary water waster. According to Kinder, leaks from U.S. homes could exceed 1 trillion gallons ... and most are easily fixable.
Also, up to 50 percent of water used to feed lawns and gardens is wasted due to evaporation, wind and runoff from overwatering or poor irrigation system design.
"Outdoor irrigation has seen dramatic efficiency and performance improvements during the last few years," Kinder said. "New nozzles, heads and controllers improve efficiency and effectiveness, providing more accurate and complete irrigation with less waste and smarter application. These upgrades are affordable and easy to implement, can be done by the average home owner and can lower irrigation water needs."
Freeman says water conservation should be a continual effort for everyone on base. Anyone who may notice a leaking plumbing fixture or sprinkler head on base should report the problem to the facility manager at the building in question.