Last month, in my blog, “Drought Runs Amok”, I asked, “are we doing enough to reduce demand and eliminate water waste?” A supplemental question to that query could simply be, “are we being proactive enough about drought?”
We all know from experience that water resource management can often feel like a game of “whack a mole.” A pipe bursts, and we rush to fix it. A storm rolls in, and the runoff and catchment discussions begin anew. Drought rears its ugly head, and new restrictions kick in.
But what if there was a better way?
In Aspen, CO, action is being replaced by “pro”-action. Casting a wary eye on the horizon, and anticipating shortages as drought forecasting paints a bleak picture, the city government has decided to reduce consumption in anticipation of shortages.
“We are being proactive on that as we speak,” Jeff Woods, manager Aspen’s parks and recreation department is quoted as saying in Aspen Daily News. “We have been planning for conservation . . . we saw this day coming.”
Amongst the city’s strategies:
* reducing the number of fire hydrant flushings and testings
* completing street cleaning before streamflows reach their peaks
* enacting an ordinance penalizing water overuse with higher rates
* imposing surcharges of 175 and 200%, respectively, for users in “Tier 3” or “Tier 4,” which are the highest categories of water use for city customers
* sending out a newsletter this month to all water customers, suggesting ways to conserve
* passing out free low-flow aerators and low-flow showerheads during the city’s weekly farmer’s market
So what do you think? Will these strategies successfully reduce consumption in amounts effective enough to impact the city’s water resource management? Does it make sense to attack all water use sectors at once, or should the biggest users be targeted first? And should some—if not all—of these reduction strategies be utilized continuously, rather than just during times of drought and shortage?