The City of Yuma’s new water rate structure includes an interesting angle: higher rates for those who use more.

This is an idea that should encourage water conservation efforts.

We’ve found the lack of water conservation here to be a bit baffling. After all, we do live in the desert, which means water is a scarce item, and that problem is compounded by the ongoing drought across the Southwest.

Lake Mead, for example, has had steadily retreating water levels. It’s the nation’s largest man-made reservoir, and feeds Southern California, Las Vegas, and parts of Arizona with Colorado River water.

And in the summer of 2014, the lake fell to its lowest level since 1937. Officials in July estimated that Mead is only 39 percent full.

And we’ve all seen the images of Lake Powell, with its ghost rings marking each new low of water as an ongoing drought coupled with continued expansion out West takes its toll. The water levels have been consistently dropping. While not as bad as Lake Mead, in July, Powell was down to 52 percent of its capacity.

A USA Today article noted that the Colorado River system had just over half of the water it is capable of holding last summer.

That’s going to continue to be a problem unless we see some banner years of rainfall and snow runoff up north to feed the river.

Yuma has strong water rights to the Colorado, but there is tremendous pressure on the river, which feeds the Southwest – Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Wyoming and California all rely to some extent on that water, according to SaveTheColorado.org.

Yet in Yuma, it’s been business as usual.

It’s not uncommon to find lush green lawns around Yuma. Or, while driving around town, to notice a steady path of water running downhill – from a yard that’s over-using the sprinkler system.

And there are a variety of ways families can conserve water inside their homes as well – shorter showers, turning the water off while brushing teeth, and fixing any leaks or drips in fixtures are good places to start.

Water is a finite resource. And while we hate the thought of paying more for it, there is a way to avoid the highest rates – and that’s by simply being conservative and using less.

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