If you missed the City of Prescott’s Council study session on Tuesday, February 26 about water resources in our town, then we’ve got the details for you! And guess what? They’re good!
Chances are, if you live in Prescott, you or someone you know has been talking about how worried they are about our water supply. With all the growth Prescott has been seeing over the past few years, this seems like it would be a logical worry right? Well, in reality, Prescott is actually using less water now than it was fifteen years ago! I know that is hard to believe for many of us, but let’s look at how this study of water (prompted by Mayor Greg Mengarelli and City Manager Michael Lamar) brought this conclusion and why we should let it calm our water fears.
First, they brought in a man called Gary Woodard to do a water study on our town. Gary Woodard is Principal at Water Resources Consulting. He has advised dozens of municipalities, private water companies, water districts, tribes, and regulatory agencies on a variety of municipal water issues, emphasizing on modeling and forecasting demand and evaluating conservation programs and measures. Prior to this work, Gary spent over 30 years at the University of Arizona. His positions included Associate Director of the NSF-funded SAHRA Center, and Deputy and Acting Director of the Water Resources Research Center. Additionally, he founded a water conservation alliance and was president of Universities Council on Water Resources (UCOWR).
So, the city didn’t bring in just anyone, they brought in a true expert to take a comprehensive look at our city’s water supply. They did this because they wanted the truth, not just the fear-talk going the city about how we are going to run out of water with all the population growth, but the actual truth of if we should realistically be worried about this or not. The conclusion Gary came to was that no, we should not be worried about water whatsoever! In fact, he said Prescott is considered the “Gold Standard” of municipal water management, and that our recharge and conservation efforts make Prescott’s water supply look very positive for the future.
Gary Woodard began his study last year in 2018, collecting water meter and utility data from the city, country and state, and compared that information to data across the region and nation. Prescott’s downward trend of water use aligns with what’s happening across the United States. Woodard stated, “It used to be that growth and economic development were parallel to an increase in water and energy use. Today, nationally, water consumption is decoupled from growth for a variety of reasons.”
Here are the bare facts of what this study of our water found and why our water consumption is less now than it was fifteen years ago:
- Since 2004, we’ve added 4,000 new water users, but we’re using 1,300 fewer acre-feet of water.
- Through the assured water supply program, Prescott has the authority to use a total of 16,500 acre feet per year from all water sources, only 9,400 of which can be groundwater. In 2018, Prescott used just 6,700 acre feet total, down from the 8,000 acre feet used in 2004.
- Changing demographics including smaller households, more seasonal residents, and fewer children and teens are part of this.
- Also, there are active conservation efforts including popularity of drought-tolerant, low-water landscaping, use of more efficient fixtures and appliances in new homes, and the replacement of inefficient fixtures, appliances in older homes.
- Our city’s robust recharge program including two municipal reservoirs is part of it as well.
Gary Woodard also stated, “Prescott’s water supply is derived from a diverse portfolio including groundwater, surface water, and reclaimed water which puts it in a stronger position than cities relying entirely on a single source of water that can be more vulnerable to year-to-year precipitation and long-term drought.”
In other words, when it comes to water, water conservation and if we have enough water, the City of Prescott is coming out on top! This means we don’t have to worry about running out of water any time soon and we can rest easy knowing that our city officials aren’t just taking this for granted, but are continuing to seek how Prescott can continue to decrease water usage and increase water conservation.
If you’d like to see the council study session on water yourself and get a more in depth explanation of our ample water supply, you can visit the City of Prescott’s website here and watch a video of the meeting. We hope this will help ease some of your and your friends worries about water; it certainly helped ease ours!