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Cities working to improve water usage restrictions and systems

Posted at 4:30 AM, Jan 31, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-31 08:17:17-05

SCOTTSDALE, AZ — Thursday is deadline for Arizona to sign on to the Drought Contingency Plan. If it is not submitted in time, the federal government will get involved.

The draft legislation that has been put together by the Department of Water Resources would allow Arizona to sign on to a multi-state drought plan with six other southwestern states to stabilize water levels in the Colorado River by agreeing to use less water from the river.

In Arizona, that would mean severe cutbacks in the amount of water the state gets from Lake Mead.

David Pratt is the Irrigation System Supervisor with the City of Scottsdale and he believes restrictions are coming and that they are an important step in helping curb our water crisis.

To help, Pratt said the city has been taking action for more than a decade. Most recently, they have introduced a Monsoon Water Savings Program.

Monsoon is the season where our state gets the most rain. But, we know Mother Nature's storms can be unpredictable. So, often times, sprinklers in the more than 50 parks across the city would run normal - even during a downpour.

The new program is based around the forecast. If there is 30 percent chance of rain or more, they will have employees check the rain gauges at night to see if the sprinklers needed to be turned off instead.

The city ended up saving more than 14 million gallons of water by doing this on a handful of rainy days.

"So, the challenge is - how do we have the nicest turf, plant material, park spaces for our citizens to enjoy - but, using the least amount of water possible? And I think we found that magic formula with what we do," said Pratt.

Pratt said new technology will be able to help them next season to digitally track the rain and the sprinkler system. That will hopefully help them fill up on even more savings.

"That 14 million is just kind of a cherry on top," Pratt said. "Since 2002, we here in Scottsdale created a very comprehensive water conservation program for our park system."

Pratt said, besides the new Monsoon Water Savings Program, the department had decided to be proactive more than a decade ago.

"And we decided to implement a 15-percent reduction from what the state allows," Pratt explained.

Through irrigation and water management education for employees every year, their efforts have seen real results.

The state gives an allotment for parks and their water use.

"We're almost two and a half billions of gallons of water less that we could have used that no one would have said, 'Don't use,'" Pratt said.

He believes the Drought Contingency Plan will bring changes, but believes those changes are important.

"Hopefully they'll be able to come up with something - a good plan," Pratt said. "But, there will have to be restrictions involved in that."