Drought Causes Amarillo to Push Conservation

Hot temperatures like we are seeing right now, have the city of Amarillo already seeing above average water usage.

Amarillo's "every drop counts" campaign was successful last year according to organizers.

So this year they're planning on increasing some programs, and ensuring all citizens work at conserving.

It's only half way through March, but with several days above 70 degrees, getting your lawn to turn green started early this year.

"44 million gallons was used in a 24 hour period. This is a little unusual for this time of year," said Emmett Autrey, the Amarillo Utility Department Director.

To make sure usage doesn't remain high through the summer, the city is looking at new ways to get you to conserve.

They're thinking about issuing a rebate for people who put a device in their toilet to make it more efficient.

"One of the ways we've looked at, simplest way would to rebate and apply it to the water bill over a two or three month period," said Autrey.

Also new for this summer is an increased tier on water bills.

People who use over 50 thousand gallons are getting charged more.

The program was put in place in October as a way to get people to conserve, that way saving on their bill.

"I think we'll see it much more affective when summer rolls around," said Autrey. "There's a lot of people who use over 50,000 and most of which goes on their lawns."

Autry thinks up to three-fourths of summer water usage is from people watering lawns.

He says, this year, when people see an enormous bill, they'll shut the sprinklers off.