Corporation Commissioner Andy Tobin has sent a letter to his colleagues seeking an investigation into lowering water loss among the 300+ water systems that the Commission regulates as the state faces imminent cuts in Colorado River water deliveries.
“To transform a desolate desert into a bustling center of commerce and industry required deliberate and methodical planning of Arizona’s forebears, especially when it came to water” Tobin wrote in his letter. “The Arizona Corporation Commission should play an important role by further investigating the issue of water loss as part of a multi-prong solution to water conservation.”
The Commission requires regulated water companies to submit water loss data every year. In 2015, 50 companies did not complete their report, and another 110 companies reported water loss in excess of 10% of total water pumped or purchased, which is beyond the Commission’s loss limit. Tobin estimates that Commission-regulated companies—about 25% of all water providers in the state—lost 5.42 billion gallons of water last year.
Beyond wasting precious water, these losses add electricity and other maintenance costs to Arizonans’ water bills. In his preliminary study of the issue, Tobin realized that no consolidated database for water loss reporting exists at the Commission and requested that such a database be created immediately to monitor systems with significant losses in order to provide assistance as needed.
Tobin believes a water loss investigation should include an evaluation of:
• The appropriate water loss calculation methodology;
• Water systems’ compliance with water loss reports, including checks for accuracy; and
• Potential Commission policies that support more company-side conservation efforts.
“The cost of keeping the status quo carries a price tag that stretches far beyond the imaginable,” Tobn wrote. “Either we invest now and expand Arizona’s horizon or defer needed maintenance, dispose more money on unused water and deprive our posterity a place to call home. The choice is clear to this commissioner.”