Our water managers are in an impossible position. Their cry for conservation will largely go unheeded until our city leaders, planning commissions and developers make some hard choices. Some thoughts are listed below:
1) A homeowners in a maintenance-free subdivision who wants to replace his grass with a more water-tolerant yard, at his own expense, is told, "No, he has to keep the grass." The original agreement with the developer requires this. Obtaining agreement with 100-150 other homeowners to agree to change the covenants is an uphill battle. We should remove obstacles to conservation like this. Meanwhile, just down the road, Las Vegas is paying people to take out grass.
2) Voluntary conservation works poorly at best, because of the few abusers. Metering secondary water and paying for what we use has reduced water use in both American and European communities. The increased cost has to be faced. Insufficient water later is not an option. Technical concern associated with additional wear and tear on meter components from secondary water is a solvable engineering problem.
3) Peer pressure is a wonderful thing. Include with each homeowners's monthly water bill, their use compared with all others is their city. It's called a Pareto chart, showing highest to lowest users (removing names, of course) and typically shows 20 percent of the people are using 80 percent of the water. It can also be a useful tool in establishing a two-tier rate structure. This approach could be implemented right now with (metered) culinary water.
4) Educate our children in school on water use. This just may produce a generation of adults 10-15 years from now, who better appreciate what we have to do in a desert environment.