I believe that shared pride helped create the sound public policy and personal conservation efforts that will protect this spectacular place – and its critical natural resources – for years to come.
About a year ago, the city manager and I began a review of the city’s water portfolio in its totality. With a large infrastructure project on the horizon and an ongoing drought dominating state news, we wanted the latest data to serve as the foundation for important policy discussions.
We hired one of Arizona’s foremost water experts, Gary Woodard, to study our water demand, and his preliminary findings were presented to City Council in February.
The bottom line is this: Prescott’s long-term water portfolio is in very good shape.
Yes, I know this is hard to believe given the steady stream of negative news coming out of Phoenix, so let me elaborate.
There are three very specific reasons Prescott’s water supply is on solid footing.
The first reason is you. Despite the city’s growth of roughly 2 percent per year, residents and businesses are using less water today than they were more than a decade ago. In fact, since 2004, we’ve added 4,000 new water users but we’re using 1,300 fewer acre-feet of water. Households are smaller and include fewer children and teens who use more water than adults. Appliances are more efficient – low-flow toilets and efficient dishwashers and washing machines are now the norm. And, landscaping is more environmentally friendly. These small changes make a big difference in the amount of water being used.
Second, the city’s reclamation and recharge efforts are working. In fact, almost 80 percent of Prescott homes and businesses are on the city’s sewer system. The city’s wastewater is treated, recharged, and returned to the aquifer.
Third, in the past two decades, the City Council and staff prioritized critical infrastructure maintenance. Our water lines are constantly monitored, maintained and improved, and the results are clear. Beneath our historic buildings lay some equally old infrastructure. However, through aggressive monitoring and maintenance, Prescott has less than a 6 percent loss rate (when water escapes from a leak or broken pipe), well under what is allowed by the State of Arizona.
If you’re still reading, you’re probably wondering what the catch is. Perhaps you’re trying to figure out what I’m really trying to say.
So, here’s the punchline: THANK YOU.
Thank you for helping to ensure Prescott is on the right track. Thank you for supporting managed and responsible growth. Thank you for conserving water in your homes and businesses. Thank you for electing leaders who take seriously their responsibility to protect fiscal and natural resources. Thank you for sharing pride in this great city, and helping to preserve it.
I look forward to the final water study, which will be presented to council in the coming weeks. From there, we will continue to study ways to take what’s working and expand on those programs and policies.
After all, the Native American adage stands true – water is life. And Prescott is a perfect place to enjoy life. QCBN
By Greg Mengarelli
Greg L. Mengarelli is the mayor of the City of Prescott.