Communities Tightening Up On Home Water Usage


All over Rim Country, the small talk flows down the same predictable path -- "Boy, I hope it rains. We sure could use it."

And when the clouds do mass, and before the rain can finish, its thought is "thank God for that rain. We needed it."

And right after that comes another Rim Country guessing game -- what will the water conservation level be next week?

Although three wet winter months gave residents hope of a normal summer, a bone dry spring generally evaporated those hopes.

As a result, Rim Country water companies have been flitting in and out of various water conservation levels for weeks -- with no early onset of the monsoon season predicted.

Before the Memorial weekend, Strawberry, Pine, Meads Ranch, and Whispering Pines water companies were at Stage II and Mesa Del Caballo had already slumped into Stage III.

Water companies impose no restrictions on water use in Stage I, but restrict outdoor landscape watering in Stage II.

Payson remains permanently locked into Stage II restrictions, after revising its water codes.

Many districts eased restrictions for a week or so as a result of a single spring rainstorm, but soon shifted back to higher alert levels.

At this point, the dry springs have already erased much of the benefit of the wet winter. With the rise and fall of water, communities keep a wary eye for water stage signs, cueing them to their conservation responsibilities.

The Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) set the five stages of water conservation levels that water companies use to regulate use in the face of water shortages.

"Each company reports (to ACC) what stage they're at and notifies us when and if they are going into another stage," said Rebecca Wilder, ACC's public information officer.

Restrictions include from none at all as in Stage I; a targeted 10 percent cut through assigned days for outdoor watering in stage II; and a ban on outdoor watering, filling pools and other measures in Stage III.

The restrictions are basically the same in Stages IV and V, but the fines escalate for violations. In Stage III, watering your yard might draw a $150 fine. That same offense during Stage V conditions could cost a homeowner $2,400.

Payson recently toughened its water conservation standards, so that the Stage II restrictions that apply elsewhere, remain permanently in effect. That mostly means homeowners can only water landscaping on their assigned days, based on whether their address is odd or even.

For the moment, most of the smaller water companies in the Rim Country remain at Stage I, which imposes no restrictions based on local water storage level or well production standing at 80 percent of total capacity or better, with no known problems with its water production or storage facilities.

As of June 12, Mesa Del Caballo is at Stage II, joining Pine and Strawberry.

The other small water companies served by Brooke Utilities are in Stage I, said Myndi Brogdon, Brooke Utilities spokesperson who provided a list of the following Stage I locations.

Star Valley, Whispering Pines, Flowing, Springs, East Verde Estates, Geronimo and Estates Elusive Acres.

Brogdon cautioned that residents stay alert to their community's constantly changing water signs due to the fluctuation of water levels.

"Beaver Valley had no water restrictions this year and will not for the duration of it," said Michael Davoren, spokesperson for the Beaver Valley Water Company. However, Meads Ranch was reduced to Stage I until further notice.

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