HUGO — The city of Hugo is looking for one more way it can improve water efficiency.
The City Council directed city staff to apply for a grant through the Metropolitan Council’s water efficiency grant program at its Sept. 16 meeting.
“The goal of the water efficiency grant program is to support technical and behavioral changes that improve municipal water use efficiency,” said Emily Weber, the city’s Community Development assistant.
The Met Council will implement a water efficiency grant program from Sept. 30 through June 30, 2022. Grants will be awarded on a competitive basis to municipalities that manage municipal water systems. The Met Council will provide 75% of the program cost, while the municipality must provide the remaining 25%. Grants will range from $2,000 to $50,000.
The city of Hugo was one of 19 municipalities to participate in the Met Council’s previous water efficiency grant program from 2015-17. With the grant, the city was able to offer rebates to residents who purchased new WaterSense toilets, irrigation controllers and washing machines to replace inefficient products.
This time around, the city is hoping to secure $48,750, with the understanding that Hugo will be responsible for $16,250. That match is currently set aside in the city’s water utility fund. If the grant is awarded, the city will purchase 350 smart irrigation controllers at a discounted rate. Residents could purchase the controllers for $30 at City Hall on a first-come, first-served basis.
The Rachio 3 Smart Irrigation Controller uses local weather and landscape conditions to tailor water schedules and operates using a smartphone.
“By replacing a standard clock timer with an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) WaterSense labeled irrigation controller, an average household can save up to 8,800 gallons of water annually,” Weber explained. “If 350 Hugo households replace their irrigation controllers with an EPA WaterSense certified controller, 3 million gallons of water can be saved annually.”
Mayor Tom Weidt wanted to know whether the controllers are easy to install. Weber said that according to a YouTube video, the user-friendly technology should only take 15 to 30 minutes and the company provides a technical support team.
Councilman Mike Miron said, “We know the biggest use of water in the city by far is irrigation. We have done a good job with new developments, and even some existing ones, to put in water reuse systems to help with that problem. I think this is also a good way to spread community ownership (of the issue) and what we are trying to do. It is another way of bringing some awareness to water conservation. Even if you are not able to hook up to a water reuse system, there are things that we can all do to limit our impact.”
Councilman Phil Klein wanted to know whether or not an HOA (homeowner association) would be eligible to participate in the program. Weber said yes; however, the hope is to see more single-family users take advantage of the program.
If the grant is awarded, there would only be a few requirements. In order to be eligible to receive a smart controller, you have to be a resident of Hugo, have an operating irrigation system and own a smartphone.
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