Clarkdale mayor reports on future of water

Last month, Clarkdale mayor and council discussed short- and long-term water issues including water conservation strategies and a comprehensive ordinance. Mayor Doug Von Gausig presented a predicted scenario of the future of water supply in Clarkdale and the Verde Valley.

He began by giving current figures.

"Clarkdale's population is about 4,000 people; the Verde Valley's is about 60,000," he said. "Average household water use in Clarkdale is 10,000 gallons per month Š and the average monthly water bill is $70."

Von Gausig explained how the implementation of the tiered rates and higher water bills will make citizens much more aware of the value of water in this area. He cited the Verde River base flow in Clarkdale at 73 cubic feet per second and 149 cfs at Camp Verde.

Von Gausig went on to describe the future of water in five-year increments.

• 2011: Clarkdale population is about 6,700. Verde Valley population is about 77,000. Average household water use is 8,000 gallons per month. Average monthly water bill is $70. The tiered rate structure and restrictions on new development has caused a decrease in gallons per capita per day. The town is using A+ effluent from the new wastewater plant for irrigation. Since the town is producing A+ effluent, potable water may no longer be used for construction projects. Base flow at Clarkdale is 72 cfs -- Camp Verde 138.

"The decrease apparently due to pumpage all over the Verde Valley."

• 2016: Clarkdale population is about 14,000. Verde Valley population is about 92,000. Average household water use is 6,800 gallons per month. The average Clarkdale water bill is $70. New construction ordinances have mandated that "residences must be designed to use 80 gallons per capita per day or less." The drought has lasted 15 years.

• 2021: Clarkdale population is about 22,000. Verde Valley population is about 115,000. County officials have implemented the strictest water conservation ordinances in state history. Average household water use is 5,000 gallons per day. Most private wells have been capped. Residents are almost entirely on municipal water utility. New homes are forced to pay a $15,000 water impact fee. The drought is in its 20th year. The Verde River Basin Partnership has been abandoned. Sedona, Cottonwood, Camp Verde and Clarkdale have consolidated ownership of their water utilities. "Direct reuse of effluent is being seriously studied."

• 2026: Clarkdale population is about 32,000. Verde Valley is about 165,000. Average household water use is 3,200 gallons per month. Precipitation starts to increase. The drought is waning. A new reuse/recycling law "mandates that all wastewater treatment facilities produce potable water and that this water must be returned directly to the potable water distribution systems."

Base flow at Clarkdale is at 75 cfs -- Camp Verde has stabilized at 98.

"State law now demands that all watersheds be managed on an integrated management model, and strict penalties for groundwater depletion and environmental degradation have been instituted. With the State's population now at 10 million, and since Nevada has secured their 2,000,000 acre-foot Colorado River allocation, [the Department of Water Resources] is studying a goal of 30 gallons per capita per day for all new construction in the state."

Mayor Von Gausig said he brought this report up to urge council and residents to think long term when considering water ordinances.

Clarkdale resident Ellie Bauer said the Water Advisory Group has gathered information on conservation and will continue to look into the issue.

Town Manager Gayle Mabery said the town, on a long-term basis, wants to provide service with the smallest number of wells as possible.

Further discussions of water ordinances are planned to be on future agendas.

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