Talk of the Town: Using actual data for water use makes sense

The success of complex regulatory programs requires the implementation of policies that are driven and supported by high-quality data.

Today, the Prescott City Council will review and discuss a staff recommendation to modify its policy regarding the allocation of residential water for new subdivisions requiring alternative water supply. The existing water allocation policy has been in place since the year 2000.

A lot has happened regarding our water resources since 2000. It is now mandatory that only highly efficient, water conserving plumbing fixtures be available for use. Like the City of Prescott, most municipalities have enacted water conserving plumbing codes for all construction within their jurisdictions.

The City of Prescott has implemented a water conserving tiered rate structure for the cost of water for its customers. Prescott also has implemented a highly effective Water Smart water conservation education and rebate program. The City’s water accounting, measuring, metering and billing systems are now much more sophisticated than they were 16 years ago.

All of these factors have contributed significantly to the analysis leading to the recommendation to modify the residential unit allocation rate for new subdivisions within the City. It is abundantly clear that the actual annual residential water demand is well below the present allocation rates. Lifestyle changes undoubtedly show that water conservation in the City of Prescott, and throughout the region, is engrained among our citizens as a way of life.

Based upon data of actual water use, the proposed unit allocations would be reduced from .35 acre-foot for single-family residential development to .20 acre-foot per unit /year. Unit allocation for all new multi-family residential development would be reduced from .25 acre-feet to .12 acre-foot per unit per year.

Central Arizona Partnership (CAP) supports this recommendation. City staff has carefully reviewed water utility records. The proposed change in unit allocation is consistent with the City’s 2015 General Plan, and will help support economic development. The proposed change will also drive further progress toward water conservation by requiring builders wishing to qualify for the new unit allocation to be EPA certified as Water Sense home builders.

CAP believes the proposed change to unit allocation for new residential development to be thoughtful, well conceived and supported by high-quality, well documented data.

Through collaboration with the regional communities, Central Arizona Partnership advocates for responsible growth, a balance between economic stability and ecological sustainability, judicious management of natural resources and exceptional healthcare, education and community services.

Analysis provided to CAP by James Holt of Southwest Ground Water, a division of Matrix New World Engineering.

 

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