Originally Published: September 5, 2014 6 p.m.
My firm was recently honored to be shortlisted for the upcoming addition and remodel of the Lake Pleasant Visitor Center. The purpose of the project is to update and expand the original 2,000 square foot Observation Building, in order to accommodate the increased recreational use of Lake Pleasant, as well as to raise public awareness about the importance of Lake Pleasant and the New Waddell Dam on the lives of those who reside in the southern part of our state.
The Bureau of Reclamation's requirements for the new Visitor Center architecture was that it "convey the importance of water and of conserving water", especially in light of our state's now fifteen year drought ... and counting. It was fascinating to learn just how vital the dam, Lake Pleasant and CAP (the Central Arizona Project) has been to the Phoenix metropolitan area.
In the northern part of our state - while it's been a relief to witness one of the most productive monsoon seasons in our area on record, the fact remains that we're still in a drought, and will most likely continue to be. Updated NASA atmospheric modeling indicates that precipitation in the southwestern US could decline by as much as 20-25 percent by the end of this century. Both Lead Mead and Lake Powell are already significantly below capacity, and ground water readings in the Colorado Basin have dropped dramatically in recent years. According to the Journal of Climate "the chances of a megadrought lasting 35 years or longer are up to 50 percent for the region. It would be a drought of epic proportions that would wreak havoc on the region's already tenuous water supply".
With our creeks now flowing clear and free, and the Lowe's mountain "landscape" looking particularly green, it may be tempting to think that our area's drought is finally over. It's important to remember though, that conserving water will remain a critically important concern for all us who live in the southwest. And while larger development concerns and potential "safe yield" policy can have a significant impact on the long-term sustainability of our area's water resources, conserving water on an individual homeowner level is not to be underestimated.
Here's a list of the top five ways YOU can conserve water:
1) Fix leaky faucets and plumbing joints: Water Savings- 20 gallons/day (per leak)
2) Install water-saving shower heads: Water Savings- 300-500 gallons/month
3) Shorten your showers by one or two minutes: Water Savings- 700 gallons/month
4) Run only full loads in your washing machine/dishwasher: Water Savings- 300-800 gallons/month
5) Capture wasted water inside (for plants or garden) while you wait for hot water: Water Savings- 200-300 gallons/month.
Raising awareness about our area's ongoing water concerns will be essential to protecting our quality of life, and the overall economic health of the region. We must each do our part, however small, to help conserve this precious resource- for ourselves, our children, and the long-term viability of our community.