Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
Wed, April 24

Prescott water use reaches record levels<BR>

PRESCOTT – The situation is not yet at the "panic stage," but city officials issued a reminder this week about water use.

For the last 10 days or so, water use in the city has been at an all-time high. Indeed, for the first 10 days in July, city water users were averaging about one million gallons per day more than they were using during the comparable time in July 2002, and about two million gallons more than they were using in 2001.

City Manager Steve Norwood made an announcement about the water use during this week's council meeting. "We're not at the panic stage, but we are looking at (water levels)," Norwood told the council.

He pointed out that for about 10 days, the city has been pumping more than 12 millions of water per day.

Craig McConnell, public works director for the city, said that the recent daily water use of as much as 12.3 million gallons per day easily tops any previous water use by the city.

Even though last year's water use did briefly peak at the 12-million-gallon mark, McConnell said, those high uses have been consistent this year.

City officials make a similar announcement almost every summer. Until the summer rains begin in the area, water use always seems to reach a new all-time high.

In May 2002, for instance, in the wake of the Indian fire, Mayor Rowle Simmons issued a proclamation that warned residents about unnecessary water use and prohibited some types of watering. At that time, daily water use was at about the 8.5-million-gallon mark, and city officials were expecting the daily use to creep up to as high as 11 million gallons by June and July.

McConnell emphasized the effect that the monsoon rains have on water use in Prescott. While city pumping peaked at as high as 12 million gallons at times early in July 2002, "we dropped to as low as seven million gallons later in the month," McCon-nell said.

Numbers from 2001 reflect a similar situation.

McConnell attributes the higher-than-usual water use this year to the length of the drought.

"The more prolonged a drought is, this is what you see," he said.

And as people try to keep their trees safe from the bark beetles that are devastating the forests, they are doing more and more outside watering. Growth in the community also plays a part.

Norwood said the city has cut back its watering on city property to help lessen the high demand.

For years, the city's water transportation limit was about 10 million gallons a day. But with the completion of Prescott's 36-inch water line from Chino Valley in 2001, the capacity for water production increased to about 14 million gallons per day.

Contact the reporter at cbarks@prescottaz.com

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