Editorial: City's conservation effort good example
Water rate increases the City of Prescott enacted in 2006 and 2007 appear to be having the desired effect.
Prescott residents are using less water. This past week, Connie Tucker, the city's water management analyst, told the city council that the number of city water accounts which used more than 20,000 gallons a month had dropped by 69 percent.
The number of accounts using between 10,000 and 20,000 gallons a month has decreased by 38 percent, Tucker said. She added that Prescott's water usage per capita per day has declined steadily over the past five years. In fiscal year 2003, the usage was 161 gallons per capita per day. In fiscal year 2008, the figure was 137 gallons per capita per day, far less than the community's average figure of 150 gallons per capita per day since 2000.
That illustrates a corollary to Ronald Reagan's mantra that if you tax something you get less of it. The same is true if you charge more for something.
The increasing rates have prompted more people to turn to the city's water conservation program for advice on incentives and methods of reducing their water usage.
The city's water conservation coordinator, Shaun Rydell, said her department has conducted 110 water audits for residential customers resulting in a 22 percent increase in applications for city conservation incentives. That, she estimated, resulted in a water savings of 23 acre-feet.
Ever since the Arizona Department of Water Resources declared the Prescott Active Management Area to be in a state of groundwater mining in late 1999, local governments have been slow to realize the gravity of the fact we are taking more water out of the ground than we are putting back.
However tardily, the City of Prescott did begin a water conservation effort and it's starting to pay off. Other municipalities should take it as a model.