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Pine-Strawberry Officials Implement Heightened Water Use Restrictions

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Courtesy/Alan Levine
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Officials in the communities of Pine and Strawberry this week put mandatory water restrictions in place. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports, it’s one of the only areas in the state to have implemented heightened water conservation measures this year. 

Most water use not related to health and safety is prohibited under the restrictions. It bans irrigating gardens, trees and flowers, as well as public parks and recreation fields. Home car washing and rinsing streets and sidewalks is also restricted.

The approximately 3,200 residents of Pine and Strawberry depend solely on groundwater, but area aquifers haven’t recharged as quickly as they typically do following months of drought conditions.

"This past season, I know we got inches instead of feet. I don’t think there’s been a measurable amount of rain here lately. There was no spring snowfall; if there was, it was minor," says Cato Esquivel, manager of the community’s Water Improvement District.

Esquivel also says Pine-Strawberry’s water system came up about 100,000 gallons short following Memorial Day Weekend. Officials aren’t certain why, but he says forest closures elsewhere in the region have drawn campers and other visitors to the area.

Meanwhile, water managers in Flagstaff, Prescott and Prescott Valley say they don’t anticipate having to implement heightened water restrictions, but are constantly monitoring supply levels.

Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a frequent contributor to NPR.
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