Letter: Check your numbers
Several points in Mayor Greg Mengarelli’s Feb. 1 column need further explanation.
The Citizens Water Advocacy Group (CWAG) agrees that Prescott has done more on water conservation than any other city in the Prescott Active Management Area (PrAMA). However, Prescott’s 2017 conservation incentive program performance is a fraction of 2009: rebate applications were down 81 percent and dollar rebates were down 85 percent. Prescott has done and can do much better. All cities in the PrAMA need to improve their water conservation programs.
The mayor claimed that in 2017 Prescott recharged 235 acre-feet (af) more water to the aquifer than was pumped. However, this is only for one year. Water use reports to the City Council show the opposite. Historically, significantly more water has been pumped than recharged. For example, the net recharge was -2,936 af in 2015 and -2,541 af in 2016.
Why was 2017 so unusual? Surface water recharge from Granite Creek was unusually high. The real reason was weather, not city policy.
The Arizona Department of Water Resources reported that the 2012 overdraft was 18,000 acre-feet per year. This huge groundwater deficit is destined to grow, especially with 16,000 new homes slated for approval. Prescott has a legal responsibility to achieve safe yield by 2025.
CWAG concurs with the mayor’s affirmation that water conservation is effective and necessary. Prescott should aggressively promote water conservation, especially by requiring the use of drought-tolerant plants and rainwater harvesting for all new development. Aggressive water conservation has enormous potential.