Water Innovation in Chandler City

The city of Chandler in Arizona adopts innovative policies on commercial water conservation

No city in Arizona is more innovative about water use than the East Valley community of Chandler, which last month adopted a policy requiring new high-volume commercial water users to purchase water on the open market once they exceed a set threshold.

More communities need to join the party. Chandler isn't alone in focusing on water conservation. Phoenix just announced a major, new emphasis on reclaiming water. Peoria is spending $1.2 million on expanding its reclaimed-water system.

But Chandler's approach is breaking the mold. And as attorney Grady Gammage Jr., an expert in land-use and water policy, observed, Chandler is alone in that regard:

"It's a bit of an experiment, but that's terrific. I give Chandler a lot of credit for doing this," Gammage said, adding to Arizona Republic reporter Chris Coppola that he is not aware of any other Arizona municipality that has done something similar.

So why not?

Part of the reason, we suspect, is that innovation is scary.

Businesses in Chandler will be ensured a water supply up to a certain level. Beyond that, they must secure the additional supply on their own. According to city officials, the policy ensures that as the city grows, an ensured water supply grows with it.

"(The) last thing we want to do is use 100 percent of our water and find out we only have 90 percent of our land built," said Doug Toy, Chandler's water regulatory-affairs manager.

Chandler officials are fully aware that water availability historically has been considered a given. They also recognize that complicating the status quo may also complicate its economic-development efforts. The city will have to strike a delicate balance. People are going to be watching.

So far, though, business-development interests are giving Chandler a thumbs-up. The CEO of the advocacy group Valley Partnership, which promotes responsible business growth, said her organization "appreciates the fact that Chandler is proactively looking at ensuring all future development will have access to critical infrastructure and resources."

What Cheryl Lombard of Valley Partnership is describing — and Chandler is implementing — is sustainable growth. As long as the policy remains predictable and evenly administered, firms should come to see it as just another cost of doing business — while at the same time enjoying a sense of certainty about their base supply.

As a growing number of cities in California would testify, water-certainty in an age of drought is an increasingly valuable commodity.

According to the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, nine cities, all in California, are in jeopardy of running out of water. That is not a condition that plays well in municipal economic-development departments. Assurance of supply is becoming an increasingly valuable selling point.

Nevada has spent $817 million over the last six years to construct a "third straw" pipeline into dangerously low Lake Mead to help ensure its water supply. With 90 percent of Las Vegas' water supply coming from the drought-depleted lake, the move proved prescient and vital.

Taking the "Chandler approach" to commercial water use for future Las Vegas growth might stretch that precious Lake Mead liquid still further.

It is an innovation all Southwestern communities ought to weigh. As long as drought persists, it will be the water-innovative who thrive.

Source: azcentral

Read More Related Content On This Topic - Click Here

Please feel free to submit your feedback below

Enter the characters shown in the image.