Four Arizona communities were recognized today for their work to create and implement effective water conservation programs. Tucson, Phoenix, Payson, and Prescott were presented with the Top Drop Award by Western Resource Advocates (WRA), a non-profit environmental law and policy organization. The group commended the communities for conserving and protecting Arizona’s water supplies.
The awards stem from research done by WRA to measure how successful 15 Arizona communities have been in stretching their existing water resources. The results of this comprehensive research were released today in a report entitled “Arizona Water Meter” which measures each of these water providers against the same yardstick of conservation criteria to determine which programs succeed and why.
“We want to celebrate the communities that are doing the right thing. Water conservation doesn’t garner the recognition that building a pipeline or a dam does,” said Drew Beckwith, WRA’s Water Policy Analyst. “Given Arizona’s uncertain water future, conservation is the strategy that is cheaper, faster and smarter for increasing water supplies than the traditional concrete and steel approach.”
WRA’s report found wide variations in how efficiently water is used from community to community. Structuring water rates to provide adequate incentives for conservation and reducing leakage and waste in a water utility’s own system were among the approaches WRA found to be most effective in conserving water.
“These baseline snapshots of each utility should help Arizona water providers learn from one another about what works in this state,” said Beckwith. “There is room for improvement, and our information can help water utilities chart a course of action on where to go from here.”
The future of Arizona water supplies is anything but certain. Both groundwater and surface water resources such as Lake Mead are declining. Flows in the Colorado River Basin are trending downward and climate models of future flows predict this trend to continue. On top of this, Arizona’s population is expected to nearly double in the next 45 years. Eliminating wasteful use of water is the obvious response to these conditions.
“WRA found things to cheer about in this report. We also identified areas where more work is needed, such as instituting water conservation programs for large commercial and institutional water users. Western Resource Advocates will be expanding our presence in Arizona so we can play a role in this improvement,” said Karin P. Sheldon, WRA President.