Scottsdale is Leading the Way in Water Conservation: Plenty of Pain is Left Though

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Water is the most critical issue in our area, as nearly everyone knows (you can get up to speed on our perspectives about it here). To that end, we had some good news recently, but it also comes with concern and potentially even dread at what is to come.

We found out recently that the city of Scottsdale cut its municipal water usage by 38 million gallons last year, which exceeded its goal by more than 6 million gallons. This resulted in a 6% decrease in water usage year over year. As such, Scottsdale has taken a leadership role in drought minimization, and that should be applauded. It is indeed a positive development for the Ortega administration. So why do we have pause?

One controversial aspect of future water savings was derived from Scottsdale’s decision to cut water off from the Rio Verde Foothills, a decision that we have spoken about at length. That decision is estimated to potentially save 53 million gallons of water. While it will certainly help Scottsdale’s progress against a goal, it comes at a cost, both a societal and a political cost, and that doesn’t even mention the inherent lack of compassion.

Additionally, we know that this is just the start. Barring a significant reversal in rainfall patterns (i.e. things that are completely out of our control), the drought is likely to worsen. We are very likely only on the front end of water cuts. While it is great to be a leader in conservation efforts, the pain of what is very likely to come down the pipeline hasn’t yet been seen.

We applaud the fact that our city is leading from up front. We can only hope that this spirit of leadership rubs off and other cities get the message, that they make difficult decisions and bring their water usage in line. After all, it will take much more than just Scottsdale to get us out of our current crisis.

But we also need to recognize that we are very likely to be on the front end of this crisis, that there will be much more difficult decisions to be made. Scottsdale hasn’t felt the full brunt yet, but if we are told that we can’t water our lawns? That golf courses will be on rationed water (and what they will do to tourism)? That we will need to meter our personal usage? We cannot celebrate and rest on our laurels.