SOUTHLAKE (CBSDFW.COM) – Residents in Southlake are getting an eye-opening incentive to conserve water during the time of drought. They can receive up to $200 just for allowing the city send out experts to inspect their properties. This new plan could soon become a model for other cities which are pleading with residents to save water.
When the sprinkler heads pop up in Southlake, money starts draining out of the pockets of homeowners like Mike Farhat. “It’s painful spending a lot of money on water,” he said. But his water bill has dropped an astonishing 40 percent in one month after enrolling with the city’s new water savings program. “The months before it was $1,100. Last month was $600.”
The program is called Wise or Water Irrigation System Evaluation. Homeowners who sign up have their landscaping inspected by an expert who offers advice on usage, and then recommends repairs if needed. The city will then reimburse the cost of repairs, or credit the homeowner’s water bill, up to $200.
“People just don’t realize what’s going on with their sprinkler system,” said Will Quinn of Lonestar Landscaping, “because they generally run their sprinkler system at 3 o’clock in the morning when they’re in bed.”
The program was developed this summer, after Southlake city officials found that about 85 percent of surveyed homes were wasting water. The city came close to extreme water rationing, but officials instead looked for a plan that residents would actually follow.
The program has been so popular, city officials said, that there is now a waiting list just to sign up. But residents are encouraged to sign up, as there are plans to expand the plan in coming months.
The city has evaluated 176 homes thus far, and issued 57 rebates for a total of more than $11,000 spent by the city. “There is some signifcant investment that we’ve made,” said Southlake Public Works director Bob Price. “But we expect that rebate to turn back to the community in the near future.”