Water is a precious commodity often times taken for granted by raising a handle or motioning above the spout with a hand to request water.
The Sun City West community was educated on the Arizona Department of Water Resources 4th and proposed 5th water active management area plans for the Phoenix AMA during a Feb. 7 Recreation Centers of Sun City West meeting. With water allotment changing by year 2023 and 2025, the community is preparing and making necessary changes.
David Hunter, Property Owners and Residents Association Water Committee director, said he revived the committee this past year after disbanding a few years ago. The way it operates changed to looking at both local and regional aspects due to the developments in water availability taking place over the past few years.
“Our water wells are just fine right now and we are in good shape, but you can see in the future all these new people coming in and new development going up and a growing industrial area, they are going to get water from the same place we do,” he explained. “All the solutions up to this point have been short-range and while we can’t change those plans, we can keep up with elected officials and waive the flag on the issue.”
Mr. Hunter said it’s in the interest of all community members and sometimes its hard to pick out something people can do anything about but by raising a flag and letting elected officials know this is something they need to be focused on, they are drawing needed attention to the issue.
Recreation Centers of Sun City West Environmental Services Manager Todd Patty, who also sits on the PORA Water Committee, provided a simple break down of what’s ahead for the community during the panel’s Feb. 18 meeting.
“We have received some information on the 5th management plan for 2025, but it is still up in the air and they are proposing further cuts to our allotments and right now as it stands we just don’t know if that is going to happen,” he said.
The focus now is on the 4th management plan scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1, 2023. Golf courses are required to reduce water usage by 4.9 acre-feet per acre to 4.75 acre-feet and that makes an allotment reduction of 254 acre-feet of water use by that year.
“The new allotment of 3,664 acre-feet will mean some changes for us and how we water our golf courses,” Mr. Patty said.
An architect presented drawings for changes at Grandview to out of play areas that are turf and changing them to desert landscape, which included 60 acres. Mr. Patty said he thought it was too much and moved to a second plan of 45 acres.
“The good thing is we have seven golf courses and we can combine all water allotments as one and that gives us flexibility to make changes at each golf course and the ones affected are those built before 1965. The four big ones include 100-163 irrigated turf areas that we must make changes to in the 4th management plan,” Mr. Patty explained.
Mr. Hunter briefed the committee on the regional outlook, including Lake Mead in Las Vegas, saying the level is going up and is 1,095 feet above sea level, which is an increase higher than last December. He said Arizona, California, Nevada and New Mexico were not taking all their allotment, which is leaving water in Lake Mead.
“And there’s not as much water coming to the Central Arizona Project Canal, which is okay right now,” he said. “But if the demand gets greater, we will have to start pulling more and more water out of Lake Mead and if we do that then our allotment will get cut. And that’s okay for the short term, but long term it’s not good.”
Additionally, committee member Rick Obenshain spoke to Sun City West CAP allotment, saying there is a certain amount of CAP water in the community, but there is not physical access to it. He said the county accesses that portion of water and delivers it to farm fields and generates a credit for Sun City West, which homeowners see on their tax bill.
The PORA Water Committee is set to meet again 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, March 17 in the PORA board meeting room, 13815 Camino del Sol.