water forum

Do you know where your water comes from? Do you harvest rainwater, take shorter showers or limit your water use to conserve and protect the resource? One year ago, the University of Arizona Water Resources Research Center polled Gila County residents about water use and awareness. Some of the results may surprise you:

• 76% of survey respondents said they know where their water comes from

• 50% of respondents try to limit water use to conserve water to protect the resource

• 25% of participants said that they drink only bottled water

• More than 95% of participants said they currently use water-saving practices

• 38% of respondents said they currently recycle gray water or use harvested rainwater

• 64% of respondents were concerned with the quality of their water

• 25% said they read water quality reports provided by their utility

The most popular water saving practice is watering outdoors during early morning or evening to minimize evaporation; 31% reported doing so. Other conservation measures ran from taking shorter showers (7%) to installing low-flow plumbing fixtures and appliances (15%); reducing the landscape area irrigated (26%) and installing water efficient irrigation systems (7%).

Mark your calendar for the Third Annual Cobre Valley Water Forum online both mornings Nov. 12-13; the theme is “Healthy Forests, Healthy Watershed.”

Local & regional experts

Hear from local and regional experts about how healthy forests and uplands contribute to the overall health of the Cobre Valley Watershed in southern Gila County. The Cobre Valley Watershed Partnership in collaboration with the University of Arizona Gila County Cooperative Extension and Water Resources Research Center hosts this virtual event.

A watershed is a deceptively simple concept — an area of land that drains water into streams and rivers. Smaller bodies of water flow into larger ones. In our case, the Cobre Valley is made up of multiple creeks and waterways that drain to the Salt River and Roosevelt Lake, a river system that serves millions of people. Watershed health and function are dependent on the many activities within its boundaries. Forests play an important role in this tightly knit ecological and hydrologic system. Wildfires and the resulting loss of vegetation can significantly reduce a forest’s ability to regulate the flow of water during and after rainstorms. Similarly, trails and dirt roads have an impact on the flow of water; poorly maintained or designed tracks can contribute to damaging erosion and flooding issues.

The November forum is a chance to find out more about why forest health matters to the Cobre Valley watershed. Engage with local experts and regional stakeholders and add your voice to help identify the threats and benefits of the forest-to-watershed relationship and develop local strategies to address watershed health. In a year of exceptionally damaging wildfires throughout Arizona and the West, it’s high time to talk about forest and watershed health in the Cobre Valley.

Survey respondents last year also chose these as future Cobre Valley Watershed goals:

• Developing a comprehensive water budget, including environment requirements, based on recent hydrologic data;

• Developing an inventory with clear instructions on what data is needed and how the information will be used;

• Setting framework for private-public partnerships for long-term water supply resilience;

• Increasing the benefits of water recycling by high quality treatment; using reclaimed water; and

• Connecting trails and building safe trails to expand tourism options and attract more people to the region.

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