Recent rains and a positive response to TMWA’s drought-awareness messaging had a marked impact on water consumption in the month of May. Customer demand is down. Total consumption for the month of May was 19% lower compared to the same period in our baseline-use year of 2013. That’s over 1,500 acre-feet, or roughly half a billion gallons in savings.
Note: we are using 2013 as our baseline year for comparing water savings because that was the last year that TMWA operated normally and did not ask customers for additional conservation. TMWA’s current request that all customers reduce their water use by at least 10% is based on 2013 use. I mention this because some customers who reduced their use by 10% in 2014 have asked if they need to save an additional 10% on top of that this year. The answer is no. If you dialed down your use by 10% last year, just keep doing what you’re doing. Of course it won’t hurt to look for additional savings, too.
From a big-picture perspective, May storms improved river flows enough so the Federal Water Master was able to keep irrigation ditches open weeks longer than anticipated. This was a big help to parks, golf courses and others in our area that rely on untreated, non-TMWA water for irrigation. The added precipitation also allowed TMWA to delay the need to bring production wells on line and to hold off the release of any upstream drought reserves. This is great news because, essentially, every day we can delay the release of upstream reservoir storage, is water in the bank that we can keep upstream for later use if needed.
We are thrilled with the help we’re getting from the community so far this year. Customers are clearly mindful of the drought and are doing their part to minimize water use. They responded to the rain showers in May-meaning they turned off their sprinklers. This is water that TMWA did not have to produce and deliver (saved). This also saved on groundwater pumping.