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Large water users in Phoenix could face new requirements

Phoenix is considering new rules for new customers that use the most water in the city. 

The city has about 20 customers identified as large water users. They include resorts, hospitals, bottling plants and government entities. But a proposed ordinance would exempt current large water users from certain conservation requirements and focus only on new users.

”This targeted approach allows Phoenix to ensure sustainable water usage practices from the outset, aligning with our long-term goals for resource management," said Max Wilson, deputy director of Water Services, in a statement. "The decision to apply these measures exclusively to new users stems from a strategic choice to integrate sustainable practices into the city's growth, with the possibility of extending these measures to existing users.”

The ordinance would require new customers that use more than 250,000 gallons daily to submit conservation plans for approval. And, new customers using more than 500,000 gallons daily would have to rely on recycled or conserved water for 30% of demand, with an exception for economic benefit. 

Deputy City Manager Alan Stephenson gave an example of what councilmembers and departments might consider

“OK, there are some really great jobs that are coming out of this proposed use or other economic benefits and maybe they can only get to 25% instead of 30% water, but within their industry they're doing everything they can to recycle and conserve water, and so then the director has that flexibility to say it’s okay to do the 25%," Stephenson said.

The ordinance includes fines for noncompliance. Stephenson said the city would monitor usage annually. If a customer used more than 20% over the estimate, the city would determine whether it was an anomaly or changes need to be made.

Failing to comply, Stephenson told a council subcommittee, would result in fines ranging from 100% to 400% of a customer’s annual water usage costs.

“It's not something that is, you know, more like our typical fines that someone could just build into, you know, a process and say that is something they could do as part of normal business operation,” he said.

The City Council must still approve the changes. No date for a vote has been set.

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As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.