Trusted local news leader for the Grand Canyon
Sat, Oct. 19

United effort will lessen impact of local water crisis

Williams’ reservoirs are at 10 percent capacity.

That fact alone should send a very clear message to city and county residents alike.

Just drive around and see how empty the lakes are. And the lower they get, the harder it is to make the water they hold potable.

City Dam in Buckskinner Park is at 58 percent capacity, but the city started pulling from it Monday and will continue to do so for the next two weeks.

Cataract Lake is currently 26 percent full, Kaibab Lake 7 percent, Dogtown Lake 3 percent and Santa Fe is empty.

Short-term weather predictions indicate the monsoons are fleeting.

Of course, short of a deluge or two, the rains will not fill any reservoirs — only help decrease evaporation and demand. We need snowpack next winter to alleviate the situation.

Based on current reservoir capacity alone, city officials now estimate we won’t run out of water until early in November.

Fortunately, the Dogtown Well is still producing 40 percent of Williams’ water supply. With its steady 227 gallons per minute, it should give the city breathing room.

Estimates are that it will get Williams through the winter without hauling in water, providing it keeps pumping at this rate. Two other factors also come into play in this scenario. The city must be able to treat the water at such low levels and utilize all the water in the reservoirs.

However, as Ron Stilwell, public works director, pointed out at Thursday’s city council meeting, “These are unknown factors because the lake levels have never been this low.”

Dennis Dalbeck, city manager, said he plans to make a written request this week to purchase water from the City of Flagstaff. It will be up to Flagstaff City Council to say yea or nay to this request. As you might remember, Flagstaff tabled the decision last time it was put to them.

“We are hoping we don’t have to haul water but are taking all the necessary precautions if the situation does turn sour and we have to haul,” Dalbeck said.

So come on, folks. Let’s pull together and get through this crisis.

One water issue that has aggravated many lately is the water debit card. The City of Williams has not instituted this system for water haulers out of greed or malice. It eliminates waste at the standpipe and will allow the city to record how many county water consumers they have.

City officials do not have plans to cut off current county residents, but is not capable, given the water crisis Williams is in, of sustaining rampant county growth.

Don Dent, councilmember, said it aptly at last week’s city council meeting.

“I’d like to clarify that we are in a serious water situation,” he said. “If people don’t want to pay to be part of the system, they won’t be part of the system.

“But even if we have to haul water, we will supply to those who rely on it.”

Yes, county residents are being asked to pay a $75 set-up fee, which has rankled some. But county residents haven’t had to foot the $2.5 million the city has already spent for well development. Neither will they spend the next 30 years paying off the recently passed $3 million bond issue for additional water development.

However, they can come into town and purchase water from our dwindling supply if they so choose.

And, Williams residents, if you haven’t taken the city water restrictions seriously, it’s certainly time to do so. Let’s stretch the water supply as far as we can.

A lot of misinformation has been bandied about in the past week. An insidious, unsigned flyer, riddled with hate and false accusations was widely distributed under the guise of being a “Water Rights Wake-up Call.”

Get the facts. Quell the rumors. Conserve water.

Pray for rain soon and snowpack this winter.

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