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3:19 AM Mon, Sept. 24th

Prescott Valley Council to consider water conservation

PRESCOTT VALLEY – The town may never ask residents to scale down water usage and therefore conserve one of the state's most precious resources.

However, the Town Council discussed, during work-study session this past week, a proposed water conservation plan that many Arizona communities have already adopted.

If the council accepts the provisions listed in the plan then the council will consider adopting the plan as an emergency measure later this week.

That means that during times of draught or emergency, the town can enforce the plan.

Town staff patterned the provisions after those adopted by the City of Flagstaff, explained Town Manager Anthony Mortillaro.

The Prescott Valley Water District provides an ever-growing population with domestic and reclaimed water services, says a town report, and therefore "it's time to adopt a plan as a precaution," Mortillaro said.

He added that the town's water production output remains much higher than peak demand.

During last year's peak day, with both domestic and re-claimed water services, the system maintained 10.1 mgd's (millions of gallons per day).

The town will break the proposed plan down into stages, Mortillaro said.

The water resource status levels set by the Public Works Department dictates those stages – based on water demand and water production capability.

The town manager, for example, may declare in effect the level one stage – a measure that asks residents to take the initiative to conserve water and minimize wastefulness when irrigating, washing a vehicle or washing the pavement.

Violations of these provisions would be a class one misdemeanor, explained Town Attorney Ivan Legler.

"As a rule the judge never does impose the maximum," Legler said regarding the maximum fine of $2,500 and/or six months in jail.

"I doubt there has ever been a fine or a jail term of that length…very rarely does that happen," Legler said.

A better comparison, Legler offered, includes a look at possible water violations in context, that is, "how serious is the circumstance (and) how blatant is the violation?"

Legler said these types of defiances probably would equal property nuisance or animal control violations.

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Following are the different levels of the plan:

• Level 1 – When water demand is less than or equal to safe water production capability: The town will encourage water users to minimize water usage for irrigation, vehicle and pavement washing

• Level 2 – When water demand is greater than safe water production capability for more than three but less than fourteen consecutive days: The town would restrict water usage to certain days of the week regarding irrigation and washing vehicles; filling and refilling of swimming pools and spas. Also golf course irrigation restrictions except those using reclaimed water; the operation of ornamental fountains is prohibited unless equipped with recycling pumps;

• Level 3 – When water demand is greater than safe water production capability for 14 or more consecutive days: Emergency restrictions for all of the items under Level 2, with some allowances;

• Level 4 – When water demand is greater than the total water resources the city can produce reasonably through either the domestic water system or the reclaimed water system: The mayor may declare water usage restricted with some allowances that include emergency use of fire hydrants and some water operations that use reclaimed water

Contact Briana Lonas at blonas@prescottaz.com