Memorial Day weekend was nothing short of a shock to every Brooke Utilities employee and customer. Running out of water in Strawberry is unheard of. Strawberry has been an example of a system that could support itself and even send excess to the more problem-prone Pine.
That said, let me make this very clear. Brooke Utilities has not shipped water to Pine since before Memorial Day. From the time prior to the holiday weekend to now, no water has been sent to Pine.
When tank levels started dropping, our operations crew spent hours and days crawling all over the Strawberry system looking for leaks, breaks and malfunctioning equipment. They found none. What they found instead was extreme consumption.
The crew read all Strawberry meters on the day before the holiday and the Tuesday following. Over Memorial Day weekend, Strawberry customers used over 1.2 million gallons of water. For reference, that is an 85-percent daily demand increase.
Brooke Utilities hauled water to Strawberry by truck. There was never water hauled by truck from Strawberry to Pine.
This past weekend saw a repeat of the same consumption event. Extreme usage in amounts that the groundwater system cannot support. Demand exceeded usage.
Brooke Utilities started the trucks rolling again. Employees stopped and asked residents not to water outside. We are speaking to businesses. We are talking to you.
Customer conservation has to be a component of the immediate solution.
We have to ask you to avoid outdoor watering and do all you can to conserve water indoors. Every drop you can save will help us prevent homes from being completely dry.
A toilet takes 40 percent of a household's water use. Can you put a brick or a soda bottle filled with water in the tank? That will save gallons every flush.
Can you save gray water to water houseplants and gardens? I saw one bucket gardener catching all the water that drained from his plants and re-watering with that. Overall, it takes him five gallons of water to keep his very productive garden going.
People are creative and ingenious.
No more apparent is the need to conserve than right here in our desert state of Arizona. Water is a precious resource and while Brooke Utilities is addressing the immediate and mid-term solutions of this very new problem, you can help by employing conservation in your daily water life.
This situation will likely mean the need for conservation stages to be applied to the Strawberry area. While Brooke Utilities regrets that, we see it as a necessary step toward managing the current situation.