Alan Forrest: Smart planning and investing have ensured Tucson’s water supply

2014-05-25T00:00:00Z Alan Forrest: Smart planning and investing have ensured Tucson’s water supplyBy Alan Forrest Special to the Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

The levels of Lakes Mead and Powell are dropping. The Colorado River is at one of the lowest levels in memory.

A decade of drought across the West is big news these days, and there are states and communities that have very real water concerns.

But Tucson is not one of them.

Why?

Because the city of Tucson and Tucson Water have planned ahead. We are prepared for this water future.

We’ve planned for the future since the 1960s when land in Avra Valley was purchased by the city to obtain the water rights.

Then came planning for the Central Arizona Project — a massive undertaking by federal, state and local officials and organizations that brought Colorado River water to Tucson in the 1990s. Today, Colorado River water supplies 90 percent of the water our customers use.

We also created one of the nation’s first reclaimed-water systems to treat wastewater for landscaping and turf irrigation.

During the summer months more than 30 million gallons per day of reclaimed water help keep our parks, golf courses and schoolyards green without using drinking water. In fact, we recently reached 30 years of reclaimed-water use.

Planning ahead gives Tucson an assured supply of water at a time when many cities and towns are concerned about water shortages. We have made bold investments in dollars and in time that not everyone across the Southwest has been willing to make.

We owe thanks to the leaders of Tucson and to the generations of water professionals who have come before us and who have worked together to put us into this position of security.

We’ve now recharged over a million acre-feet of CAP water underground in Avra Valley, built an award-winning Advanced Oxidation Treatment Plant to purify a small portion of our groundwater, and operate the Tucson Airport Area Remediation Plant that converts water from nine formerly unusable wells into some of the purest water we deliver.

Basically, including our reclaimed-water system, we’re doing all we can with your water supply to get the most out of our resources.

So our investment in water resources on behalf of our customers has given us a supply we can count on during this record-setting drought.

But it doesn’t mean that as a community we can be wasteful. Tucson Water customers must continue to “Be Water Smart.”

To learn more about our supply, how we invest dollars from water rates back into supply, systems and operations, and how to reduce water use at your home or business, visit Tucson Water’s website at tucsonaz.gov/water online.

Alan Forrest has been director of Tucson Water since June 2012. Contact him at alan.forrest@tucsonaz.gov

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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