While California grapples with a drought and severe water shortage, the issue is not new to people in Arizona, or, more specifically, to those in the Prescott Active Management Area (AMA). Measures such as landscape choices, education, water conservation, price increases and finding alternate water supplies have all been common practice for years in the high desert areas of the Prescott AMA. Those efforts are showing success, according to annual reports recently filed by the two largest water providers in the Prescott area.
John Munderloh, Water Resources Manager for the Town of Prescott Valley, explains that the City of Prescott and Town of Prescott Valley are required to supply documentation on conservation programs each year to the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR).
“Water conservation programs have been mandated by the State of Arizona for large water providers located in Active Management Areas since passage of the Groundwater Management Act in 1980,” he said. “Prescott and Prescott Valley qualify as large water providers and are located in the Prescott AMA. The largest water use for both municipalities occurred in the mid-2000’s, during the peak of the largest building boom in the area’s history.”
Leslie Graser, City of Prescott Water Resources Manager, points to the fact that the city’s water use has dropped 20 percent over the last decade.
Prescott Valley has also seen a decline in its water use over the same time period.
“The daily per-person water use has declined from a high of about 130 gallons ten years ago to below 100 gallons now,” Munderloh said.
Both Graser and Munderloh attribute the reduction in water use to tiered rate structures and other community efforts like Water Smart, a regional water conservation outreach and public education program.
“Differential or tiered rates include increased charges for each unit of water used above a base quantity and reward people who conserve with lower water bills,” Graser said. “In other words, the more you use above the base quantity, the more you pay.”
Water conservation programs are selected from a list of Best Management Practices provided by ADWR.
“This gives us the ability to select those programs that work best for our communities rather than a one size fits all approach,” Graser added “There is a renewed focus on outdoor water conservation, such as landscape watering. This is water that is lost to evaporation and not available for reclamation through our recharge facilities.”
The City and Town each operate recharge facilities to reclaim, treat and recharge interior waste water. “Basically everything that is flushed or goes down a drain inside a home or business located in the town or city limits is available for reclamation and recharge,” Munderloh said.
The primary source of water for the two communities is groundwater from the regional aquifer underlying Prescott Valley and Chino Valley. Water management plans that set policy and goals for large water providers in each AMA are produced by ADWR every 10 years. The 4th Management Plan for the PrAMA was completed by ADWR in 2014.