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12 Oct

The Shops Working To Reduce Water Use In Wake Of Vision 20/20

By Jayne Hanson – River Scene Magazine

This is a sponsored story.

The Shops at Lake Havasu is following suit with Lake Havasu City’s Vision 20/20 plan by implementing an aggressive water-saving measure that is on target to reduce the property’s overall water use by up to 40 percent over the next few years.

Our goal is to reduce water use by up to 40 percent over the next year or two.

“As a 110-acre property, we wanted to be onboard and proactive with water conservation,” said Michelle Misurelli, property manager of The Shops.

Misurelli, also an eight-year board member of Havasu’s Partnership of Economic Development, said the Vision 20/20 plan really inspired the momentum of the project. The eco-friendly landscaping efforts are in the hands of Mark Sinek, operational manager of The Shops.

“We felt that water was going to be a serious issue in the next few years, and being such a large property we wanted to get a handle on that before it came to us,” Sinek said. “Our goal is to reduce water use by up to 40 percent over the next year or two.”

shops1
One of the iron sculptures that is currently landscaped into The Shops entrance.

The project centers on the property’s current 3,300 landscape plants, shrubs and trees. In all, roughly 1,320 high water-use plants are being eyed for removal. They’ll be replaced with decorative boulders, iron sculptures and alternative drought-friendly vegetation. Watering adjustments will bring allocations more in line with this region’s fluctuating temperature patterns, too.

The removed plants are being reused wherever they can be at the discretion of contracted local landscaper Brad Dodd, of Asics Landscaping, who has been on staff with The Shops for about three years. Anything else will be utilized at the local dump as green waste, which covers exposed trash and speeds its decomposition. The process is permitted through Arizona Dept. of Environmental Quality. In short, The Shops’ project completion goal is August 2017.

The Shops efforts have caught the attention of city officials working to make a difference in areas of water conservation.

“I think it’s wonderful,” said city manager Charlie Cassens. “It’s a great step on a long journey, so to speak, because we are such an arid region in the United States – and the world for that matter – with less than four inches of natural rainfall every year.”

…we actually recycle virtually all of our wastewater in Lake Havasu City…

Water was identified as an imminent priority by 200 citizens who attended a local Town Hall in late 2015. Since, water conservation and Lake protection has become a top issue in the city’s Vision 20/20 plan. Both the meeting and plan are a result of Havasu’s involvement with the America’s Best Community’s contest and its alluring $3 million grand prize.

Havasu currently stands as one of eight finalists. Implementation and sustainability of plans such as Vision 20/20 is what the contest hinges upon. The winner is set to be identified in early 2017.

When it comes to water conservation, Havasu residents and businesses alike already have some programs at work. But, Vision 20/20 is designed to raise awareness and really push the community to up the ante when it comes to saving more water.

In Havasu, irrigation has been identified as the biggest offender at 75 percent of overall water use per capita. More importantly, 62 percent of overall water usage is identified as happening from the home.

City officials are hard at work to reduce that percentage within the community through water-conservation rebate programs and ongoing campaigns to raise awareness on the issue. Tips and rebates for saving water at home and for businesses are available at www.havasuwatersavers.org.

…we’re in a threat of having water shortages being declared along the River for the very first time.

According to Vision 20/20 plan documents, residential consumption per capita in Havasu is 135 gallons per day. The plan sets forth a five-year plan to reduce that use to 130 gallons per day. Furthermore, the plan challenges city officials to increase its current use of recycled water from 50 percent to 75 percent when it comes to irrigating green spaces in the city.

“Most folks who live here may not even be aware of the fact that we actually recycle virtually all of our wastewater in Lake Havasu City,” Cassens said. “We don’t recycle it as drinking water, it is used solely for irrigation purposes.”

The increase in use will lessen the burden on water sources in an already drought-ridden area.

“The contributing factors to our situation here is the drought that has happened for the last 16 to 17 years in the Lake Havasu area but also the entire Southwest,” said Doyle Wilson, city water resources coordinator. “Lake conditions in Lake Mead and Lake Powell and the river in general have lowered quite dramatically over the years and we’re in a threat of having water shortages being declared along the River for the very first time.”

Local golf courses, aside from Queens Bay’s well-watered course, have been utilizing reclaimed water for decades. However, recycled water soon will be used to also quench green spaces at Rotary Park and London Bridge Beach Park. Recycled water flow to those areas could occur within the six months and is awaiting infrastructure adjustments, Doyle said.

Next in line is the Arizona State University Campus, Cypress ballfields, and Jack Hardy Park. They’re earmarked to begin flowing with recycled water in Spring 2017. Furthermore, city officials fully intend to use recycled water to water landscaping along the highway by 2018.

“In the next 10 to 15 years, we’d like to see the schools and all the playing fields on recycled water, too,” Cassens said. “We want to reuse every drop of water at least once. Water is just too precious to use once and throw away. Because we are possibly the most arid, populated place in the county, we should be the model for water conservation and water use for any community looking for ways to reduce their use of water.”

Lake protection is the flipside of the coin when it comes to water here in Havasu.

“We’ve had challenges on the river system over the last seven-10 years with quagga mussels coming in and changing the ecological conditions which has some implications for other potential negative impacts on the lake itself,” Doyle said. “We’re looking at all aspects of water, not just the water supply for the city but for the economy as well and that’s what this 20/20 vision really relates to.”

The negative impacts Doyle refers to are algae blooms that have been rampant in the Lake since the winter of 2014-2015. The massive outbreaks potentially can produce toxins that, even at very low levels, have the capacity to make humans sick and even prove fatal for pets, he said.

“Water is precious in the desert,” Cassens said. “If we can’t use Lake Havasu then Lake Havasu City is in a world of hurt and we don’t want to see thatWe want to become experts about our water and how to use it wisely.
Out of such concerns, the Havasu Riviera concept immerged. Formerly referred to as the Havasu 280 project, Havasu Riviera contains a component of a water research center that would include classrooms, working research laboratories, and botanical gardens when completed.

“I think it’s going to be so cool the contest organizers are going to give us the win,” Cassens said. “It’s been in the concept stages long before the ABC’s contest and this provides a golden opportunity.”

Both Cassens and Doyle agreed that city officials have every intention of coaxing the Vision 20/20 into fruition when it comes to the projects that have been identified in its pages, no matter how Havasu fairs in the home stretch of the competition.

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