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  1. 8/8/2008 GARDENER DIGS INTO NEW CHALLENGE
  2. Reprinted with permission from Denver Water’s 2008 Tap+Smart Solutions magazine. For additional information about this article, please contact Sabrina Hall at (303) 628-6324.

    Elizabeth Gardener, Denver Water’s manager of water conservation for the past 21 years, greeted 2008 by taking on a new challenge in her chosen field. As a Tap+Smart Plan co-chair, she will create alliances with other water providers in the metro area to help them reduce water waste.

    Gardener will work closely with Denver Water’s 68 Distributors, suburban agencies that receive treated supplies through service contracts with Denver Water (this includes Platte Canyon). She will share information about successful incentive and rebate programs with the managers of these contracts, encourage them to adopt similar measures, and design programs customized for their needs. Because consumers serviced through these contracts comprise almost half of Denver Water’s customers, Gardener’s efforts are expected to boost metro-area water savings significantly.

    In addition to collaborating with water providers, Gardener will assist suburban businesses, trade associations, and community organizations in their efforts to curb water waste. “I love creating something that hasn’t been done before,” said Gardener. “This is the next phase of starting from scratch to build something new.”

    To build Denver Water’s conservation program, Gardener started from scratch in 1986 with two staff members and an annual budget of less than $300,000. Today, the utility’s Conservation Section has a staff of 15, and the Planning and Public Affairs Divisions also contribute to its activities. The Tap+Smart budget for 2008 is $9.5 million.

    Over the years, Gardener and her staff pioneered numerous conservation measures that hadn’t been tried before. They were the first to publicize evapotranspiration rates for turf; they initiated performance contracts through which the utility paid commercial, industrial, and institutional customers to reduce water use; and they vigorously promoted the Xeriscape™ concept.

    Gardener says she learned about many of the measures they implemented by attending American Water Works Association conferences and comparing notes with her counterparts across the country. She also praised Denver Water’s Board of Commissioners for funding the Tap+Smart program. “Conservation is the lest expensive method of stretching supplies,” she said. “The current Board is committed to obtaining as much water as possible in this way.”

    Quoting one of her college professors who claimed what’s past is prologue, Gardener said, “The conservation group has accomplished a lot, but they’re not done yet. The past 21 years are simply a prologue for what’s to come under Tap+Smart.” The group’s work will continue under the direction of new manager Melissa Elliott.

    As Gardener tackles the challenges of her new job, she will rely on her passion for promoting a sustainable world and her soft-spoken powers of persuasion, attributes reflected in the surname she gave herself 15 years ago. As she explained, “I chose the name Gardener because it speaks to my love of planting seeds in the earth and planting seeds of thought in people’s minds.”