Tighter rules point to conservation, renewables - Tucson Local Media: Pima Pinal

Tighter rules point to conservation, renewables

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Posted: Wednesday, December 10, 2008 12:00 am | Updated: 8:02 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

Stricter state enforcement of groundwater allotments magnifies the need for greater conservation, and “continues to underscore” Oro Valley’s pursuit of access to its Central Arizona Project allotment, Town Manager David Andrews and water utility director Philip Saletta agree.

The Arizona Department of Water Resources has determined Oro Valley exceeded its “gallons per capita per day” groundwater allotments annually from 2000 through 2005. That trend ended in 2006, when Oro Valley began delivering reclaimed wastewater to three city-watered golf courses. Two other courses were connected to the reclaimed water “purple pipelines” beginning this year.

Andrews praised town council commitment to the installation of reclaimed water systems at five major golf courses in Oro Valley. In October 2005, the Golf Club at Vistoso, Stone Canyon and Sun City began receiving water from the reclaimed water system. “We took care of the north part of the reclaimed system” in phase 1, Saletta said. Phase 2 “went south,” reaching the “north” and “south” Hilton El Conquistador courses in August and October of this year.

“The steps we’ve taken as a town, in our water utility, with the council’s support, management’s support and the mayor’s support, to move toward reclaimed water, to move toward CAP, is going to help us,” Saletta said.

“We are seeing a lot of water providers have continued promoting conservation and renewable supplies, and we’re seeing the results of these conservation efforts from a number of providers,” said Jeff Tannler, area director of the Tucson Active Management Area for the Arizona Department of Water Resources.

The state wants water providers “to take steps to educate customers, and to help customers really understand the importance of water conservation,” Saletta said.

Saletta and Andrews praised residents for reducing their per capita consumption of water.

“One of the most critical things that has happened was the 2006 drought implementation plan,” Saletta said. It heightened public awareness of and action on water consumption.

In 2006 and 2007, Oro Valley has had a 10 percent decrease in its average residential customer consumption, from 10,000 to 9,000 gallons per month, Saletta said. “Our residential customers are responding to that. They’re using less water, and they’ve not necessarily changed their lifestyles.”

The council has supported increased meter replacement to push under-registering meters out of the system. “Older meters are under-registering,” Saletta said. “Meters do not over-register.” One of but five new positions approved by the city council in fiscal 2008-09 is that of a water meter supervisor responsible for leading a meter replacement program, Andrews said.

Oro Valley town code has also required that any new turf area over two acres in size must be served with reclaimed water, Saletta said.

Andrews pointed to the council’s increased water impact fee for new development, and higher water rates that contain funds for capital expansion to secure long-term, renewable water supplies. Come 2014, “we will have the funding in place” to access Oro Valley’s share of Central Arizona Project water.

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