By Kathleen Ferris, Executive Director
When are you willing to pay a little more? Perhaps you’ll pay more for steak that is a little better grade, a contractor who is licensed or a car that saves gas. What about a reliable water supply? The water you drink, that flushes your toilet, provides a warm shower and keeps the trees alive in your yard.
Arizona residents understand that drought threatens the state’s future water supply. A recent survey by the Environmental Defense Fund shows 74 percent of the 500 residents surveyed called dwindling groundwater supplies a serious problem. Half of those surveyed ranked a reliable water supply as either a serious or an extremely serious problem.
Phoenix area residents do a good job saving water and have actually increased the amount of groundwater available in the Phoenix metro area since the state passed the 1980 Groundwater Management Act. Despite a growth in population, water use has remained steady. State leaders decided 20 years ago that developers could no longer use drinking water to create manmade lakes. Public landscapes that were once overrun by grass are now dominated by low-water-use plants and trees. Water use also is down because homes built with new plumbing codes and water-efficient appliances have replaced irrigated agricultural fields.
Continuing to protect the water supply will take hard work, innovation and money. For example, cities will need to replace leaky pipes and aging pumps and invest in new technology to treat wastewater so it can help to stretch drinking water supplies. The state will need to set up new infrastructure to import water, create new underground basins to store water for the future, and explore desalinization projects and cloud seeding. It may have to pay farmers to find new ways to irrigate crops more efficiently. To make it work, developers, residents, businesses and industries will have to pay more.
Among the top 20 largest cities in the country, Phoenix has the 7th lowest average household water bill. Which brings us back to the results of that Environmental Defense Fund survey. The report also shows only 17 percent of those surveyed support increased taxes to manage and regulate water supplies and only 15 percent are willing to pay more in property taxes to fund new water supplies and conservation measures. So here’s the question again: When are you willing to pay a little more? Find more about water at amwua.org.
For 45 years, Arizona Municipal Water Users Association has worked to protect our member cities’ ability to provide assured, safe and sustainable water supplies to their communities. For more water information visit www.amwua.org.