The U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation, presented the San Diego County Water Authority today with an award of excellence for its residential high-efficiency clothes washer (HEW) voucher program. The HEW program was recognized as the top Water Conservation Field Services Program among four districts in the bureau's Lower Colorado Region. Each year, the bureau names one program among many water conservation projects throughout the Southwest for this award. The award was presented by Bill Steele, manager of the bureau's Southern California area office.
The Water Authority's HEW program was initiated in 1994 to conserve water and reduce wastewater. The Authority provides vouchers worth $125 toward the purchase high-efficiency clothes washers, which use 40 percent less water and 55 percent less energy than standard machines. The bureau granted $60,000 to co-fund the program. Additional funds were provided by the Water Authority, its member agencies and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.
The program not only saves water and electricity, it also helps consumers save money. With a $125 voucher offered by the Water Authority, the cost of a high-efficiency washer is within range of standard models. The voucher is used at the point of purchase for immediate savings. Additionally, the clothes are washed cleaner and have less moisture content due to the HEW's faster spin cycle. This translates to lower water bills and lower energy bills because of the reduced time clothes need to be in the dryer. Vouchers are available by calling the voucher hotline number at 1-800-986-4538.
During the 2001 fiscal year, more than 2,200 washers were purchased with vouchers. Water Authority officials anticipate that number will increase to 5,000 voucher purchases next year. To date, 12,000 HEW washers have been purchased, saving 470 acre-feet of water. An acre-foot is equivalent to about 326,000 gallons of water, or the approximate amount of water two families of four use in one year.
The San Diego County Water Authority is a public agency serving the San Diego region as a wholesale supplier of water from Northern California and the Colorado River. The Water Authority works through its 23 member agencies to provide a safe, reliable water supply to almost three million county residents.