With Lake Mead water levels down, water conservation needed

Rory Van Poucke, general manager of Apache Sun Golf Club in the San Tan Valley, said the golf course is shut down from May to September to save water and expenses. (Photo by Jiahui Jia/Cronkite News)

SAN TAN VALLEY – The Arizona drought is affecting businesses and homeowners, who are urged to take measures to save water.

The water level for Lake Mead is a key indicator of how much the drought has affected Arizona, according to officials for Central Arizona Project. The lake last week was at its lowest level since Hoover Dam was built in 1936, according to Chuck Cullom, who oversees the Colorado River program for the CAP.

Lake Mead helps supply water to millions of people in Arizona and is a major recreation area.

“If we are doing nothing, the lake will continue to fall lower and lower. Eventually there will be insufficient water,” Cullom said.

Business leaders and homeowners are being asked to do their part to curb water use.

Rory Van Poucke, general manager for Apache Sun Golf Club in the San Tan Valley, said the course has shut down from May to September since 1988. That saves water and money, Van Poucke said.

“If we were opening during the summer, the water bill will be probably double, to around 50 to 55 percent of our costs,” Van Poucke said. “We save probably 25 percent to 30 percent of our expenses.”

Arizona residents also can save water in simple and inexpensive ways, water experts said.

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Tips from the Environmental Protection Agency

“The most water usage in your house is your toilet. Toilets can use up to six gallons per flush,” said Carol Ward-Morris, assistant director of the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association.

She suggested residents to change their old toilets to those that have a “WaterSense” label.

“Those toilets are going to use only 1.28 gallons of water,” Morris said.

Residents who don’t replace toilets should look for leaks, she said.

“Leaking flappers lose up to 200 gallons of water a day. Simply fixing the flapper can save you water and money,” Morris said.

“It’s small steps that we can all take to help and ensure we have supplies that we need for the future,” Morris said.