Some water users getting hit with 'conservation' charge

Posted at: 06/25/2013 9:06 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

$700. That’s the size of Vere Peck’s water bill this month and he’s not happy about it. It’s far bigger than the cost of the water the Albuquerque man used at his Southeast Heights home. In fact a lot of homeowners could wind up in the same boat. Most of Peck’s bill is for “conservation” charges – penalties for excessive water use.

Peck’s home on Ridgecrest is a little urban forest, dense with pines and vines and sycamores – a standout property in a neighborhood that’s famous for its trees.

“I’m staring at a piece of land that was populated with trees and grass in the fifties,” Peck said. “I came along nine years ago and I don’t want to get rid of all these beautiful trees. It’s not fair to deprive them of their life just because the city wants to fine us basically out of our home!”

Peck is really steamed because there’s no warning that you’re crossing the line into the fine zone. The local Water Authority’s chief conservation officer says your warning is your first fine, and Peck got his last month. But Katherine Youhas does offer some help.

“We actually offer free water audits and we’ll come out to your property,” Youhas said. It’s no cost to you, and we’ll actually help you figure how to maintain the landscape you’ve got and not get surcharges.”

The city of Albuquerque actually encourages tree planting and watering, even in a drought, because it cools the air and reduces energy consumption.

Peck tells us he’s ready, willing and able to take part in a water audit. He’s looking for any help he can get in trying to reduce his water use, while keeping his little urban forest alive.

If you’re in that same boat with Vere Peck, you can give the Water Authority a call at 768-3655, or check out their website at to sign up for a water audit.