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Sat, Sept. 14

Touting conservation

PRESCOTT ‹ With the hot weather of

spring and summer fast approaching, the

City of Prescott's water conservation program is launching some new features to help bring water use down.

Especially during April, which, along with being Water Awareness Month, is also traditionally the month that kicks off high water use in Prescott, the city is publicizing ways to save water.

To help put the theories into practice,

Shaun Rydell, coordinator of the water conservation program, recently ordered

950 kits that could make a substantial impact on the city's overall water use.

The kits are available for $10 each. Rydell estimates that the various devices, including a low-water-use showerhead, faucet aerators, irrigation audit equipment, handheld sprayer, and leak detection and repair equipment, have a value of $50 if purchased separately.

The city earlier went out to bid for the kits, Rydell said, and ultimately ordered them through Niagara Conservation, a leading producer of water-conservation equipment. By ordering in bulk, the city was able to get the kits for $10 each, and is selling them at cost.

Prescott water customers could cover the cost of their kits through a $10 credit on their utility bill, which is available through the city's water conservation incentive program.

Even so, Rydell stressed that the kits are available to any residents in the area. "We won't be auditing to make sure they're Prescott residents," she said.

By installing the devices, water customers could save the city thousands of gallons of water per month and could save on their own water bills as well.

For instance, installation of the aerators and the showerhead ­ which at 1.75 gallons per minute uses considerably less than the five to seven gallons that pre-1993 fixtures use ­ could save consumers as much as 1,000 gallons per month, Rydell said.

And the irrigation audit device has the potential to save even more. Rydell pointed out that over-irrigating contributes substantially to the city's high summer water use.

"I'm interested in people becoming more aware

of outdoor watering," Rydell said. "That is really where we see a lot of waste ­ in irrigation."

While a 1,000-square-foot lawn area requires 650 gallons of water per week, she said, many homeowners are unknowingly watering much more than that. The measuring cups in the kit will allow people with sprinkler irrigation systems to calculate how much they are actually watering their lawn, and adjust accordingly.

And that could make a difference ­ especially in a year that already looks to be on its way to record highs in water use.

City officials have long emphasized that Prescott's water use usually more than doubles as the temperatures rise.

And after temperatures crept into the 80s in

March of this year, water use already was on the

rise in Prescott.

Figures from city Water Superintendent Rick Pinney's office showed that water use in March 2007 was higher than in 2006, which was considerably higher than in 2005.

While the city used about 156 million gallons of water in March 2005, Pinney said that number rose to 181.1 million in 2006, and was up to

181.8 million this year.

The average daily use

in March 2006 stood at

5.6 million gallons, he

said, and had risen to

6.5 million this year.

"As soon as the temperatures rise, the consumer impact is that outdoor watering use goes up," Rydell said.

Every summer, it

seems, city officials put

out a warning as the

daily water use tops

12 million gallons per day. In 2006, the warning came in June, when the water use had reached 12.06 million gallons a day, which city officials said was dangerously close to Prescott's 12.9-million-gallon daily capacity.

Rydell is hoping that consumer interest will be high for the water-saving kits. "I expect to have these gone this season," she said.

The kits are available at Prescott City Hall, 201 S. Cortez St. and at the Public Works Department, 433 N. Virginia St.

Rydell also will be offering the kits at a number of conservation-oriented events this spring, such as the Home and Garden Show from April 13 to 15 at the Tim's Toyota Center in Prescott Valley; the Earth Day event on April 21 at Prescott's Granite Creek Park; and the Grow Native event on April 28 at the Highlands Center for Natural History ($5 admission).

Contact the reporter at cbarks@prescottaz.com

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