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Water usage skyrockets during summer, and how Peoria deals with it

Posted 7/4/17

City of Peoria Utility Operator Tech II David Ragains monitors the Westwing Reservoir in the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition Control Room Tuesday, June 27, 2017 at Greenway Water Treatment …

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Water usage skyrockets during summer, and how Peoria deals with it

City of Peoria Utility Operator Tech II David Ragains monitors the Westwing Reservoir in the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition Control Room Tuesday, June 27, 2017 at Greenway Water Treatment Plant, 7300 W Greenway Road, in Peoria. With these monitors, operators are able to record various analytics including water levels and turbidity in reservoirs and treatment plants throughout the city.
By Philip Haldiman, Independent Newsmedia

The cooler at work empties quicker. The landscape dries quicker. And the pools evaporate quicker.

Welcome to summer in the desert, when water becomes a much more valuable commodity.

July is a one of the highest months for water consumption in Peoria and throughout the Valley.

Warren Tenney, executive director of the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association, reported last August that in February 2015 Peoria provided 423 million gallons of water to its combined commercial and residential customers. In July, Peoria’s water demand spiked to 779 million gallons – nearly double the community’s February water usage.

Peoria Deputy Public Works-Utilities Director Michael Weber concurred that July water usage typically more than doubles compared with February usage as a result of increased temperatures and the resultant increased outdoor water usage.

This includes usage across the board — trees, shrubs, and other landscaping elements require additional water as compared with cooler months due to the increased temperatures and plant stress, as well as increased water usage due to evaporation from pools and fountains. Add to that the increased thirst of parched residents. But Peoria officials say the city is able to handle it thanks to attentive monitoring, a diverse water portfolio, conservation efforts and adequate infrastructure.

The Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition system, or SCADA, is the brain that monitors fluctuations in water usage throughout Peoria, tracking water demand remotely and in real time. A web of computer monitors ranging in sizes in a control room in central Peoria gives city workers data about the state of the city’s water system.

Mr. Weber said SCADA monitors the status of water production, storage, and pumping facilities and enables Peoria to ensure that adequate water production is available to meet changing demands.

“The system also informs operations staff of issues at production, storage, and distribution facilities in a timely manner in order to avoid service interruptions,” he said.

Diverse portfolio
The jump in usage during summer months can be intense, but officials say having a varied water portfolio keeps the city from being impacted by increased demands.

Mr. Weber said water is supplied from a variety of sources, including the Central Arizona Project and Salt River Project as well as recovered groundwater supplies. Reclaimed water from the city’s water reclamation facilities is reused in some locations for turf and landscape irrigation and in some urban lakes, he said.

“The Peoria water system is robust and the city maintains a diverse water portfolio,” Mr. Weber said. “Consequently, the increased demands observed during warmer months typically do not impact the Peoria water system.”

To date, Peoria has never experienced a water shortage, but the city’s recently updated Drought Management Plan includes four drought management stages to provide an approach to water shortages in which maximum flexibility and practical options are emphasized. The stages are on a spectrum from low to high, with Water Watch being the lowest — when the city may not be able to meet all the water demands of its customers. The highest is Water Emergency — when there is a loss of supply, treatment, or distribution infrastructure.

In the case of a water emergency, water deficiency declarations would be made by the city manager, who would convene the drought management team, consisting of representatives from nine city departments, in order to recommend specific measures to curtail water usage.
Mr. Weber said that when levels dip in the summer, having adequate infrastructure in place and in operating condition, such as surface water treatment facilities, wells, storage reservoirs, pumping facilities and transmission mains, is critical for meeting the demands experienced during the hot summer months.

“The city of Peoria plans its infrastructure needs to meet the peak demands observed during the summer months,” he said.

Water conservation
Mr. Weber said Peoria promotes conservation practices not just in the summer but throughout the year.

Methods to conserve water include converting landscape to low or no water use landscaping such as xeriscap, he said. Residents can also save water by watering trees deeply and less frequently than more frequent shallow waterings, not using water for cleaning driveways and sidewalks, checking for leaks inside and outside their residences, and checking sprinklers regularly to eliminate over spray and leaks.

Residents are encouraged to use water wisely using smart, programmable irrigation controllers, Mr. Weber said.

“Modern irrigation controllers take into account temperature, location, and weather conditions to optimally adjust outdoor watering,” he said.


Water conservation
Peoria residents can do a number of things to conserve water. More information is available from the city of Peoria online at peoriaaz.gov/newsecondary.aspx?id=1251.
• Check your irrigation system for leaks weekly - make it part of a weekly routine
• Use low water use plants and the principles of xeriscape
• Adjust irrigation schedule to accommodate seasonal water demand
• Adjust sprinklers so only your lawn is watered and not the house, sidewalk, or street
• Water at night or during the cool morning hours to minimize evaporation
• Update your irrigation controller to one that has a rain sensor, weather tracking capability, or soil moisture sensor
• Check pipes, faucets, and toilets for leaks.
• Run washing machines and dishwashers only when they are full
• Replace standard shower heads with low-flow heads
• Investigate the replacement of standard plumbing fixtures with low water use fixtures
• Keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap for cold drinks
• If your shower can fill a one-gallon bucket in less than 20 seconds, then replace it with a water-efficient showerhead
• Time your shower to keep it under 5 minutes. This will save up to 1,000 gallons a month depending on the showerhead
• Install high efficiency toilets
• Put food coloring in your toilet tank. If it seeps into the toilet bowl, you have a leak.
• Plug the bathtub before turning the water on, then adjust the temperatures as the tub fills up
• Don’t use running water to thaw food
• Choose new water-saving appliances
• Turn off the water while shaving or teeth brushing