Stepping up water conservation efforts

The Carefree Water Company approves long-term water supply planning while encouraging customers to conserve water usage.

Federal and State Agencies responsible for cooperative planning and operation of the Colorado River all agree – the long-term drought is well entrenched in the southwestern United States and is showing no signs of getting better. All these agencies are looking for grassroot efforts to sustain our water supplies in Lake Mead and Lake Powell for as long as possible.

In recognition of this, the Carefree Water Company is requesting all its customers to step up their water conservation efforts. According to Greg Crossman, General Manager of the Carefree Water Company, “Our customers have always been conservation minded – we live in a desert. But it has gotten to the point that we need to step up our game and get serious if we are going to beat this drought and keep the Carefree lifestyle.”

In an effort to conserve water the Carefree Water Company is challenging all their customers to cut their water usage by a minimum of 10%. The Water Company suggests a simple way to meet that goal: get to know your irrigation timer. If your drip system is set to come on for 20 minutes, reset it for 18 minutes. It is that easy to reduce your outdoor usage by 10%, and your plants will never know the difference. Your landscaper is also a great resource when it comes to reducing your irrigation settings.

Long-Term Vision
The Carefree Town Council, who also serve as the Board of Directors of the Carefree Water Company, are acutely aware of this drought and water supply situation. They have implemented an integrated, multi-step plan to help assure an adequate supply of water into an uncertain water future for all of the Town’s water customers.
There are two primary components of the Multi-Step Plan which tightly integrate the Town’s knowledge of long-term goals, objectives, and responsibilities with a vision for future water supplies:

Component 1: Integrate All Water Accounts into a Single System.
Starting as far back as 2017, the overall Carefree water plan has been to integrate the remaining Carefree residents (those in the south and west portions of Town) under the umbrella of the Carefree Water Company. This process is well underway and is scheduled for completion by the end of 2022. Providing adequate water storage reservoirs to best serve the Town’s water accounts was a key component of the overall system design.

Component 2: Provide Adequate Sources of Water Supply.
There are three primary sources of water in central Arizona. First, the Colorado River water is delivered through the Central Arizona Project (referred to as CAP Water). Second, is the Salt River Project (SRP) water, which draws its water from the Salt and Verde Rivers and delivers it to 11 municipalities (Carefree is not one of them). Finally, we have water contained within underground aquifers which has accumulated over the eons.

The Carefree Water Company has both its CAP water allocation and local groundwater available as water supplies. As noted, CAP water is under considerable pressure due to the drought and continued declines are forecasted. Carefree’s groundwater aquifer is healthy but is extremely limited in size. The goal is to maintain as much of the aquifer as possible for emergency situations. That leaves SRP water, which up until this point has been unavailable to Carefree.
That could change in the future. For the past two years, Salt River Project has been looking at ways to increase the water supply on the Verde River. Currently, SRP water supplies are stored on the Verde River behind nearby Horseshoe and Bartlett Dams. SRP studies show that increasing the size of Bartlett Dam would be the most viable way to capture more water on the Verde River system and store it for future use.

At their June 7 meeting, the Carefree Water Company’s Board of Directors authorized further participation in this effort, including appropriate funding. A video developed by SRP depicts how this water could be integrated with and distributed to participating municipalities. This video can be seen at the following link:

This long-term effort could take as long as 20-plus years to complete, yet it has the potential to produce a viable and cost-effective source of water as we move into a dryer future.
— submitted by Town of Carefree