Ask the candidate

Q&A: How will the growing water crisis impact Scottsdale’s future?

Posted 6/7/22

Despite a drought management plan being in place, Scottsdale City Council candidates are mostly confident that the city is on the right track to avoid a major water problem.

In January, the city …

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Ask the candidate

Q&A: How will the growing water crisis impact Scottsdale’s future?

Posted

Despite a drought management plan being in place, Scottsdale City Council candidates are mostly confident that the city is on the right track to avoid a major water problem.

In January, the city of Scottsdale enacted a drought management plan, which details the city’s responses to drought conditions if water deliveries to treatment plants are reduced or curtailed.

The Colorado River, which is a source of water for Arizona cities, announced a shortage in recent months. As of last August, a Tier 1 shortage was declared in Arizona.

Scottsdale’s water portfolio is sourced from four different components: Colorado River or Central Arizona Project water (76%), Salt River Project water (13%), groundwater (4%) and reclaimed water (7%).

So what does this mean for Scottsdale residents and the future of the city?

In this week’s Q&A, the seven City Council candidates give their opinions on how Scottsdale can sustain its future as the climate crisis continues impacting the state’s water resources.

Solange Whitehead

• In the past year, the city’s water department announced its plans to begin conserving water as drought issues grow more dire. How can Scottsdale sustain its future as the climate crisis increases?

Today’s water crisis is an opportunity to invest in infrastructure that creates high-wage jobs and will result in a sustainable water future. The policies that I’ve enacted to combat heat and conserve energy also conserve water.

Regionally, there is a tremendous amount of untapped water potential if we focus on recycling and conservation. Highlights of successes include:

  •  Treat up to 20-million gallons a day to a water quality that exceeds that of bottled water.
  •  (New in 2022) Treat contaminated well water which now increases Scottsdale’s drinking water portfolio by adding an additional 5.4 billion gallons a year.
  •  Recharging aquifers with over 75 billion gallons of water over the past 25 years.
  •  Rebates, technology, and real time leak alerts have reduced city water usage and helped HOAs, businesses, and homeowners conserve water and save money.

Raoul Zubia

• In the past year, the city’s water department announced its plans to begin conserving water as drought issues grow more dire. How can Scottsdale sustain its future as the climate crisis increases?

Residents can be proud that Scottsdale is nationally recognized for water conservation, recycling, and long-range planning. Scottsdale is fortunate that the city’s water experts strategically planned for future needs.

Prior to the Tier 1 shortage, we recharged 10% of our CAP/Colorado water allocation back into the ground for the future. With Tier 1, our allocation was reduced 3% so we are still able to meet water demands and recharge water.

In 2019, the Arizona Department of Water Resources reported that as a state we used more water in the 1950s than we do today, all while experiencing significant population growth. Requiring housing developments to identify water sources and use conservation techniques and technologies as well as the shift of land mix from agricultural to urban uses contributed to this phenomenon.

Water is not just a Scottsdale issue. It is a regional issue. We cannot close our doors and expect to solve a regional problem. We must continue to use this precious resource wisely and demand that new projects use green technologies that support sustainability and water conservation.

Pamela Carter

• In the past year, the city’s water department announced its plans to begin conserving water as drought issues grow more dire. How can Scottsdale sustain its future as the climate crisis increases?

Scottsdale is a designated provider; they have the resources. My job is to manage these resources more efficiently.

Building codes already have a provision for water, the Ground Management Act requires that anyone who wants to purchase or lease land to sub-divide must be assured to have a 100-year supply of water.

As a resident or business within the Scottsdale city limits, there will be no immediate changes. The majority of Scottsdale’s CAP water allocation will not be cut in a Tier 1 shortage. Scottsdale Water has planned for this event for decades by investing millions of dollars into its infrastructure, executing a diverse water resource portfolio, and creating a robust conservation program.

But even with planning, Scottsdale residents and businesses are urged to maximize conservation efforts to ensure long term resiliency.

Barry Graham

• In the past year, the city’s water department announced its plans to begin conserving water as drought issues grow more dire. How can Scottsdale sustain its future as the climate crisis increases?

We need to find realistic ways to respond to the looming resource crisis. For starters, I do not agree with lobbyists for multi-housing special interests who are proposing Scottsdale add 50,000 more apartments. That’s a dangerous proposition that would suck Scottsdale dry. Instead, any new housing proposals must be sustainable and disclose the additional water they will require.

We should prevent creating urban “heat islands” that make the city even dryer and less healthy. Too many solid, heat-trapping surfaces accumulate air pollution that can cause respiratory problems—especially for senior citizens. In turn, that can attract diseases, including a variety of dangerous viruses.

Adding more open spaces and native trees that require less water can provide more shade, conserve water, and create evaporative cooling effects for a healthier environment.

Daniel Ishac

• In the past year, the city’s water department announced its plans to begin conserving water as drought issues grow more dire. How can Scottsdale sustain its future as the climate crisis increases?

Scottsdale is better positioned than many local communities. We have focused on water reclamation, recycling and replenishment. And despite population growth over the years, our water usage has actually decreased through various initiatives like turf replacement, xeriscape and water mitigation. We can and must do even more.

The city should remain committed to further reducing water usage through greater reclamation, limiting run-off, encouraging heat reflective surfaces and building materials and more turf replacement.

The city needs actions from residents, too. There are many small steps we should take that collectively make a large impact:

− Remove turf, especially in unusable small areas and lead to wasted overspray which deteriorates roads and walkways.

− Collect rainwater for use in irrigation rather than running into the gutter.

− Replace high water use landscaping with species more suitable for our climate (the city website has excellent resources on this).

− Reduce electricity — yes, electricity, because power generation is a huge source of water usage.

Small steps and thoughtful action will make the difference!

Kathy Littlefield

• In the past year, the city’s water department announced its plans to begin conserving water as drought issues grow more dire. How can Scottsdale sustain its future as the climate crisis increases?

Scottsdale is in a very good position in that it has an extremely knowledgeable water director who for years has been developing plans for water conservation and recycling that is second to none. We recycle water and wastewater from all parts of our city, clean it, and return the water for use both for our homes, businesses and public parks.

We also collect water credits toward future demand and continue to build our water infrastructure to meet our continuing and growing demand. I will continue to advocate for citizens to install and use water-saving methods like DRP systems for plants, replace grass with artificial grass, and monitor water usage in homes to see where possible cuts can be made.

As we move further into this drought, we will continue to cut our water usage, scrub and filter the water we have, and seek new ways to cleanse and reuse our water. I see no sign of this drought slowing; therefore, as we move toward tier 2 we will continue to urge water saving methods like artificial turf, drip lines, lower pressure, etc. to reduce the demand for water.

Oddly, I just learned tonight that Scottsdale’s total water usage has actually been decreasing over the past few years in spite of the increase in population.

Our water systems that recharge and reuse of our precious water supplies help to keep our total water needs low. Of course, if the drought continues and the water levels in the lakes continue to drop, we will have to consider further water usage reductions.

Tim Stratton

• In the past year, the city’s water department announced its plans to begin conserving water as drought issues grow more dire. How can Scottsdale sustain its future as the climate crisis increases?

One of the challenges I learned to navigate while serving on the Scottsdale Board of Adjustment was that of respecting and balancing property rights of diverse groups.

I am a full supporter of property rights and deference must be given to owners’ rights. That being said, when a person’s rights infringe or impede another’s rights then those competing rights must be balanced. Water use is one of those areas where there are competing rights.

Water is a regional issue and Scottsdale must fight for a seat at the table on regional water policy. First and foremost, we must fight for water rights and our share of future water allocation at the state level.

Current supplies of water are adequate for a long period of time, but more can be done with conservation and technology.

I am not in favor, as some of my opponents are, of dictating a “green new deal for Scottsdale,” telling homeowners how they must use their property, which trees they can and cannot cut down, how big swimming pools need to be, and other actions that impose the hand of government in your life.

The city should advocate for responsible water use and provide education and assistance to homeowners who wish to take proactive steps to mitigate their water usage. These efforts should be voluntary and not imposed by government.

Scottsdale, election, Scottsdale City Council, water,

Comments

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  • jason.alexander

    According to Scottsdale's water department, they serve 83,000 single family homes, that make up 88% of accounts, and use 50% of Scottsdale's water. The 53,000 multifamily homes in Scottsdale make up 5% of their accounts, and use only 16% of our water. Multifamily homes use, on average, half the water of a single family home.

    Solange Whitehead claims to be an environmentalist, but she is actually harming our environment by promoting sprawl, more roads and heat islands, gridlock, and more large-lot single family homes with pools that tax our infrastructure. Great, she added a few trees to a few projects...she lacks the understanding to implement the policies that help our environment.

    Barry Graham has a long history of anti-environmentalism as a hard-right MAGA activist, cut from the same cloth as Trump's indicted EPA chief Scott Pruitt. Watch video of his year on the Planning Commission, you will see negligible care for conservation issues.

    I'm heartened to hear that Kathy Littlefield "just learned tonight that Scottsdale’s total water usage has actually been decreasing over the past few years in spite of the increase in population." Sounds like for once she will use facts and data, rather than simply saying NO to all progress.

    Tuesday, June 7 Report this