Pima County Wants New Water Rules

Nov. 1, 2001
Over the next few months, Pima County officials want to adopt new water conservation rules to protect the area's supply from growing demands.

One proposal from County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry: forbidding new golf courses in unincorporated Pima County unless they use treated effluent for irrigation, rather than ground water.

Among the other ideas supervisors may soon consider:

* Limiting landscaping with water-hungry plants to 20 percent of new developments.

* Forcing large developments, such as office parks, to use two sets of piping so they can recycle waste water.

* Requiring fountains to recirculate and minimize water loss from splashing and infiltration.

* Tightening rules for drip and spray irrigation.

Huckelberry said a new water report for the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan "lays the scientific and factual foundation for further conservation."

"We live in a desert where water is very scarce. We ought to use it as wisely as possible," he said.

But Terry Klinger, president of the Southern Arizona Homebuilders Association, criticized the package as "just one more way for the county to garner control over land use."

"It obviously has the potential of limiting growth," he said.

Ed Gowan, executive director of the Arizona Golf Association, said new courses above "weak aquifers" shouldn't rely on ground water and that "if effluent is available, golf courses should use it."

But he said a blanket prohibition on courses that don't use waste water is wrong since the saltiness and quality of effluent can make it hard to start a course from scratch without using some ground water.

Gowan said a 1996 study found golf adds $1 billion to Arizona's economy. According to a UA study, golf courses use about 10 percent of the region's municipal water.

Exact language for the water conservation ordinances hasn't been set, but the county has kicked around such a plan for years, taking advice from the Water Conservation Alliance of Southern Arizona.

Alliance manager Val Little noted that "we didn't promote very much that hasn't been tried elsewhere."

Source: Arizona Daily Star