With focus on drought, Mohave County supervisors pass water use law
KINGMAN - Steve Buck is worried that the 55-acre manmade lake at Los Lagos gated community in Bullhead City could end up with a bathtub ring like Lake Mead under an ordinance passed Monday by Mohave County Board of Supervisors.
The board voted 4-1, with Supervisor Buster Johnson opposed, to adopt a county ordinance outlining reclaimed water use requirements.
Buck wanted to know if existing water features such as private waterways would be subject to the ordinance. He also questioned wording that says only effluent water shall be used "if available," but the lake needs 200 acre-feet more than what's available.
"So does it close the door on us?" he asked.
Board chairman Steve Moss, who brought the ordinance to the board in January, said the lake would be subject to the reclamation ordinance, though it wouldn't take effect until Jan. 1, 2018.
The ordinance outlines requirements for reclaimed water use in a number of categories, including agricultural land use; commerce or business; industry; mining; manufacturing; residential subdivisions; turf facilities; and swimming pools.
Compliance with the ordinance is not required if reclaimed water is not yet available to the property within one mile of the nearest property line.
Moss pushed for the ordinance because of drought conditions in the Lower Colorado River Basin that could lead to water restrictions in Phoenix and Tucson by 2016.
Water is scarce in Mohave County and the region is experiencing a historic drought, which has everyone concerned about using water wisely, Moss said. Perhaps more than any other crucial factor, water supply will limit and define how the county grows in the future, and the use of reclaimed water is going to be a critical conservation component, he said.
Reclaimed water is water that has been treated or processed by a wastewater treatment plant or on-site treatment facility in accordance with state law.
Mark Clark, Bullhead City councilman and president of QPC, a wastewater management company, said the Colorado River has been "overdrafted" for a number of years, which is why Lake Mead's water level has dropped as precipitously as it has in recent years.
The lake is currently at 1,088 feet above sea level, Clark said, having come up from 1,081 feet in August. If it drops to 1,075 feet, or another 13 feet, first-tier drought restrictions will be implemented, Clark said.
"This area would be affected right away," he said. "It would affect everybody when it first hits."
Supervisor Johnson was concerned about developments that come before the board. The ordinance could require people to enter into contracts with sovereign nations such as the Hualapai Tribe, he said.
Supervisor Jean Bishop said the county can't implement this type of conservation soon enough, and made the motion to approve the ordinance.
"There's hardship and even harder hardship," Moss said. "This is one small step in case bad things happen, we will be able to meet them."
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