Simple ways to reduce, reuse and recycle water
Water is Arizona’s most precious resource.
Arizona Department of Water Resources reports that we get our water primarily from these resources:
• Groundwater = 41%
• Colorado River = 36%
• In-state rivers = 18% (particularly the Salt, Verde and the Gila rivers)
• Reclaimed water = 5%
The Central Arizona Project (CAP) announced in August 2021, “Based on the Jan. 1 projected level of Lake Mead at 1,065.85 feet above sea level, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior has declared the first-ever Tier 1 shortage for Colorado River operations in 2022.
“This Tier 1 shortage will result in a cut to Arizona’s share of the Colorado River … the result will be less available Colorado River water for central Arizona agricultural users.”
Read the full press release.
Although agriculture will see the most reduction in water, everyone must do their part to conserve this resource.
Water conservation tips
The first step in decreasing your water usage is understanding how your household consumes water. Pull your water bills from the past six months for comparison. If there is a continual usage increase, call a Rosie-Certified Partner to conduct a home water audit or do one online.
The auditor will locate and observe the readings on your home’s water meter. They will also look for obvious signs of leaking around the flooring, toilets, fixtures, and appliances.
After all areas have been checked, turn off the water to the home, wait an hour and check the water meter. If it indicates water usage, then you probably have a leaky pipe. Once the trouble spots are remedied, you can take additional measures to continually decrease consumption.
Arizona Municipal Water Users Association offers many tips including their water calculator. Just enter a few pieces of information about your household’s water use habits. This tool will estimate how much water you need for optimal monthly water usage based on the information you provide. Note that these are estimates only and may be inaccurate due to many differing factors.
Water – Use It Wisely’s helpful 100+Water-Saving Tips actually offers nearly 200 tips to conserve water indoors and outdoors at home, work, and school. Here are 12 recommendations that are easy to implement.
Note: They are numbered based on where they fall on Water – Use It Wisely’s list.
No. 5 – Designate one glass for your drinking water each day or refill a water bottle. This will cut down on the number of glasses to wash.
No. 7 – Use the garbage disposal sparingly. Instead, compost vegetable food waste and save gallons every time.
No. 21 – Have a plumber re-route your greywater to trees and plants rather than the sewer line. Check with your city and county for codes.
No. 29 – Upgrade older toilets with water-saving WaterSense® labeled models.
No. 31 – Use a WaterSense® labeled showerhead.
No. 58 – At home or while staying in a hotel, reuse your towels.
No. 93 – Catch water in an empty tuna can to measure sprinkler output in your lawn. 3/4 to 1 inch of water is enough to apply each time you irrigate.
No. 119 – Make sure your swimming pools, fountains, and ponds are equipped with recirculating pumps.
No. 121 – When back-washing your pool, consider using the water on salt-tolerant plants in the landscape.
No. 126 – Trickling or cascading fountains lose less water to evaporation than those that spray water into the air.
No. 115 – Remember to periodically check your sprinkler system valves for leaks and to keep sprinkler heads in good shape.
No. 117 – Pruning properly can help your plants use water more efficiently.
No. 128 – Winterize outdoor spigots when temperatures dip below freezing to prevent pipes from leaking or bursting.
No. 135 – Use a broom instead of a hose to clean patios, sidewalks, and driveways, and save water every time.
Review all of Water – Use It Wisely’s tips and select the ones you can easily implement. In time, add more water conservation techniques to your lifestyle.
Greg Peterson of The Urban Farm provides outdoor water-saving and gathering ideas.
He uses a 700-gallon tank to collect rainwater from his roof and stores it for use during the dry parts of the year. The tank water is directed to a part of the yard where it will be the most useful. Greg cautions that if you have an asphalt roof, never use the collected rainwater on your vegetable garden, only on your trees.
You don’t need a 700-gallon tank like Greg. Start small. A 5-gallon bucket or a 55-gallon drum can collect the rainwater from your downspouts. Although these options are easy to set up, they are more labor-intensive over the long run as they involve a personal effort to collect, cover and then distribute the water.
Greywater is legal in the state of Arizona.
Greywater is any water that runs down the drain of your bathroom sinks, showers, and clothes washer, but does not include “blackwater” from your toilet or kitchen sink.
Rerouting greywater to the landscape can cut down on the amount of water used on a day-to-day basis. The trick is to figure out how to get the water from inside our homes to our yards.
One way to redirect greywater is to replumb the sinks to run outside rather than into the sewer or septic tank.
The Urban Farm integrated greywater harvesting into the remodeling of their outdoor patio by designing the outdoor wet bar and shower to drain into the landscape. You can apply this same approach so that your water serves double duty by first running through your sinks, showers, or washers, then irrigating your landscape.
Check out these resources to learn how to create and implement rainwater gathering and greywater usage.
• Arizona Department of Environmental Quality’s (ADEA) document, Using Greywater at Home.
• Create an Oasis with Greywater by Art Ludwig
• Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond by Brad Lancaster
Keep up with the status of Arizona’s water with the Central Arizona Project’s Know Your Water’s News.
To be good stewards of Arizona’s water and environment, each of us should be making water conservation a lifestyle, not just a habit. Small behavioral changes can add up to significant water savings. Embracing this lifestyle now can nourish our state for future generations.
Note: Water and energy nexus – because most of Arizona’s power is generated by steam driven turbines – energy savings also means water savings!
Join Rosie on the House every Saturday morning from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. on KTAR News 92.3 FM. If you’d like to send us questions or comments, email mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Twitter and “Like” us on Facebook. For more do-it-yourself tips, go to rosieonthehouse.com. An Arizona home building and remodeling industry expert since 1988, Rosie Romero is the host of the syndicated Saturday morning Rosie on the House radio program. Call 888-767-4348 with questions and comments.