Resource Conservation Is Everyone's Responsibility

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Nobody really needs to be reminded that another summer is upon us. Or that the drought we were hoping might be minimized by a wet winter wasn't.

The bottom line, of course, is hundreds of feet below the ground, where our precious water supply rests unreplenished.

Unfortunately, there's no end in sight to the drought that has gripped the state for several years. Based on previous weather cycles in Arizona, some forecasters think we have another 10 or 12 years to go before we even hit bottom.

That doesn't leave the Rim country much choice but to pray for rain -- and to conserve.

The town of Payson is to be commended for the positive steps taken over the winter to minimize the impact of the drought. A new water conservation ordinance that took effect March 1 ties conservation stage levels to actual precipitation and weather conditions rather than the amount of water in storage tanks.

The ordinance also gives the town manager power to invoke conservation stages when demand is greater than "safe production capability."

Accordingly, the town is now under Level II water conservation restrictions through Oct. 31.

In addition, a water rate increase aimed at high users took effect May 10. Included is an across-the-board surcharge that will be used for new conservation initiatives.

Pine may be the community in the most dire straits, but Payson is taking these precautionary steps because all of us in the Rim country share the water crisis. In fact, all water providers in the Rim country should be equally prudent.

Brooke Utilities, for example, is faced with the prospect of trucking water to Pine this summer. Yet Mesa del Caballo, another community served by Brooke, has had absolutely no restrictions for two years.

The Payson Town Council and Public Works Director Buzz Walker hope the measures they have taken will not only stop a relentless increase in consumption, but actually reduce water use by 10 percent. Whether it does or not is, of course, up to the town's water customers.

And whether the Rim country gets through the current drought, however long it lasts, is up to all of us -- whether we live in Payson or Pine or Mesa del Caballo.

It's time for all water providers to follow the example set by Payson. It is also time for all of us to conserve.

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