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    For the second consecutive year, the City of Grand Rapids has been honored for its progress on water conservation at the annual Great Lakes and Saint Lawrence Cities Initiative meeting held in Sarnia, Canada. Grand Rapids and the town of Blue Mountains, Ontario, each received the "2015 Water Conservation Award."

    The City of Grand Rapids Water System met the Great Lake Saint Lawrence Cities Initiative in 2007 by reducing water use by 15 percent. However, since that time, the Water System has actually doubled that original initiative and is now seeing a 30.62 percent reduction of water usage from the year 2000. The Water System through universal metering, water accounting and loss control has been able to accurately measure water usage and locate issues that would cause a loss of water. Utilizing new technologies such as Variable Frequency Drives and a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition System have played a vital role in controlling and reducing water usage in the City of Grand Rapids.

    At this morning’s Committee of the Whole meeting, Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell praised the City Water System’s dedicated to using new methods and new technologies to conserve and lower the cost of operation to its customers. He also thanked the entire team, including Joellen Thompson, Grand Rapids’ water system manager, and Dr. Haris Alibašić, Grand Rapids’ energy and sustainability director, for earning the award.

    Thompson told the City Commission that the its water customers have contributed to that overall number by reducing water consumption by 25 percent, once using an average of 400 gallons per meter and now, through conservation, only consuming 300 gallons on average per meter per day.

    “When I speak to people from throughout the country they laugh because they say, ‘Grand Rapids sits in the midst of the greatest fresh water resource in the country--the Great Lakes, why do you conserve?’, but I respond that water conservation is important. We set the example and need to protect our water supply and be good stewards of this great natural resource.”

    Through the Initiative Water Conservation Framework, originally launched in 2007, cities have worked towards a 15 percent reduction below year 2000 water use levels by the year 2015. Participants have collectively achieved a 19 percent reduction, conserving 123 billion gallons of water.  

     The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative is a coalition of more than 110 Canadian and US mayors, including Mayor Heartwell, representing more than 17 million people, who work together to promote, protect and restore the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.