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The city is taking action to prepare residents for a potential shortage of available water suppliers in the near future through education on water consumption and methods of conservation at home.

Almost a year after the US Department of the Interior declared the first-ever water shortage in the Colorado River Basin, the City of Phoenix is asking residents to reduce their water consumption.

On June 1, the city declared a Stage 1 Water Alert, which means a situation where there is an insufficient supply of water appears likely.

The alert is part of the city’s Drought Management Plan, a procedure first created in 1990 to prepare Phoenix residents for possible water shortages and identify ways to lessen the impact of a shortage on the city.

To help residents better understand what the water alert means and how they can do their part, the City of Phoenix has put together some tips and resources on how to use water more efficiently and save money. 

Landscaping

According to Cynthia Campbell, water resource management advisor for the City of Phoenix, outdoor water use is the most important type to monitor, as most of the city’s water use is outside. 

In addition, she said, most of the wasteful water use is outdoors, as people are prone to overwatering their plants.

To optimize water usage outside, Campbell suggested installing an irrigation controller, which can consist of a timed sprinkler system or even a smart controller that gauges water use based on weather conditions.

A more intensive way to use less water on outdoor landscaping is to convert a garden or lawn with non-native plants into a xeriscape — a sustainable landscape that consists of desert-adapted plants.
If a sprinkler system or landscape renovation is not possible, however, the city has watering guides for the desert region available online and a monthly text reminder for how often certain plants should be watered. To receive monthly guidelines, text WHENTOWATER to 33222.

Efficient Water Use

Toilets and washing machines are the two household fixtures that use the most water, according to Campbell, but updating these appliances to newer, high-efficiency versions will help save water with each use.

Faucets, dishwashers, and shower heads also come in high-efficiency varieties, which are about 20% more water-efficient, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency

These appliances also come with benefits to homeowners, as the decrease in water use can save them hundreds of dollars annually. Some Arizona cities and utility companies even have rebate programs for residents who upgrade to high-efficiency water products.

However, an issue that Campbell said is important to watch for in both high-efficiency and standard appliances is leaks. 

According to the EPA, the average household can waste nearly 10,000 gallons of water per year, which leads to about 900 billion gallons wasted nationwide.

Finding hidden leaks around the house can be as simple as monitoring changes in the water bill each month or taking regular readings of the water meter. There are also smart devices available that can detect leaks or unusual water use and alert homeowners via text.

“That’s a really great way to take care of leaks, because leaks inside the home are the other thing that frequently get missed,” Campbell said, “That can cost thousands of dollars a year.” 

Renter-friendly Solutions

Although it may be unfeasible to install new appliances or irrigation systems on a rented property, Campbell said there are other meaningful actions both renters and homeowners can take to conserve water.

For example, only running the dishwasher or washing machine when loads are full and shortening shower times by a few minutes can save hundreds of gallons of water each month.

“We want to make sure we’re training up the next generation so they understand how to be good desert dwellers,” Campbell said.

The Arizona Municipal Water Users Association, a non-profit organization of ten cities in Maricopa County that advocates for responsible water stewardship, frequently holds water conservation trainings and workshops for residents across the Valley.
For more information on saving water and educational resources for children, visit www.phoenix.gov/watercloud.

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