Vanishing Water

As water supplies become scarce, conservation efforts rise

With the world’s population quickly surpassing 7 billion, water conservation is all the more imperative to secure a healthy global environment and economy. Water & Wastes Digest Associate Editor Leslie Streicher talked with Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) Director Sandra Fabritz-Whitney about how the industry is reacting to water scarcity in the arid Southwest.

Leslie Streicher: How important is it for the general public to practice water conservation? 

Sandra Fabritz-Whitney: Water conservation is extremely important and should be practiced as part of our daily routines. It is an essential resource in our lives and is essential to maintaining a vibrant economy and environment.

The efficient use of water results in cost savings and decreases in energy use, and it preserves the environment. Conserving water and using it more efficiently is a responsibility of all residents here in Arizona. It is a critical element in the state’s long-term plan for securing a sufficient water supply.  

Streicher: What are some of the technologies currently promoting water conservation?

Fabritz-Whitney: Water-efficient appliances that are available for home use include clothes washers, showerheads, faucets, drip irrigation systems, automatic irrigation controllers, efficient hot water systems, automatic shutoff nozzles for hoses and water brooms.

At treatment and drinking water plants, water-efficient practices include metering deliveries to all connections, leak detection and repair programs, and SCADA systems that provide real-time information for water production and delivery.

Streicher: Arizona is an arid state with recurring water scarcity issues. Where do you see water conservation heading for the state in the coming years?

Fabritz-Whitney: Arizonans’ water providers, agricultural users, industrial users and residents will continue to improve their water conservation and efficiency efforts and promote a conservation ethic. Further research will allow the identification of components of residential and industrial water use so conservation prescriptions can be tailored to local conditions to provide the greatest amount of benefit for the least cost. The link between water use and the economic value of water resources will be explored in more detail, creating new opportunities for efficiencies that are sustainable.

Streicher: What are you doing at ADWR to promote water conservation?

Fabritz-Whitney: ADWR is committed to promoting responsible water stewardship through education, outreach and technical support. ADWR maintains a conservation website that includes an assembly of tools that are available to assist communities and water providers in the design and implementation of comprehensive, customized and proven conservation strategies.

Our staff promotes and encourages the efficient use of water by providing education and outreach, community assistance, program development, water-efficient technologies and conservation tools throughout the state, while also coordinating Arizona’s drought program. This includes conservation planning information so that water providers have a plan in place for times of drought.

ADWR also administers the Water Management Assistance Program, which provides financial and technical resources and has assisted in the development and implementation of conservation programs, augmentation programs, and programs designed to monitor hydrologic conditions and assess water availability.

Sandra Fabritz-Whitney is director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources. Fabritz-Whitney can be reached at safabritz@azwater.gov or 602.771.8426.

Leslie Streicher is associate editor for Water & Wastes Digest. Streicher can be reached at lstreicher@sgcmail.com or 847.954.7922.

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