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Phoenix ramps up water conservation efforts

Any projects using more than 250,000 gallons of water a day will have to submit a water conservation plan to the city
water conversation efforts
Posted at 10:33 PM, Mar 11, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-12 01:33:01-04

PHOENIX — Phoenix city leaders recently passed a new ordinance that outlines how new large companies conserve water if they want to operate within city limits.

Deputy Water Services Director Max Wilson said there’s plenty of interest for companies to bring major projects to Phoenix and with those, come large water needs.

“For water users of size, there’s no size fits all solution,” Wilson said.

The city now requires new, large water-dependent businesses to make more conservation efforts if they want to be in the city. Any projects using more than 250,000 gallons of water a day will have to submit a water conservation plan to the city.

Any businesses using double that or more, must submit the conservation plan and recycle 30% of their water.

If they don’t comply, they face fines ranging from 200 to 2,000 percent the cost of the extra water used.

“These water users are so different so we have to have this one-on-one conversation with them to help make sure they’re saving as much water as they can,” Wilson said.

Wilson said industrial water use only accounts for 4 to 5% of the total water demand for the city.

For the larger public, the city’s Water Conservation Office has also launched multiple incentive programs in recent months for both general business users residents.

Residential incentives include money for efficient toilets.

Non-residential incentives help users remove grass and replace areas with desert landscapes.

The chief science officer, Kimberlie McCue, at the Desert Botanical Garden, knows all about maximizing water conservation and creating sustainable landscapes.

“We continue to be in the midst of a drought, major drought,” McCue said. “For us to continue to have the quality of life that we enjoy here we need to be very careful about the use of our water.”

McCue said the garden does not use nearly as much water as the big industrial facilities, however, companies have come to the garden to learn best practices in water conservation.

“We like to think we’re a little bit ahead of the curve,” McCue said. “We’ve had many entities coming here recently to learn from us. What we are doing to conserve water here, to harvest water here and to make the best use of the water that we have.”

Throughout the garden, rainwater is collected on roofs and in embankments off the parking lot to supplement water use.

The garden is a Platinum Green Business Leader within the city for its sustainability efforts.

Wilson said the due diligence of Phoenix residents has paid off, reducing the overall amount of per-person water usage by 10% since 2020.

The amount of residential grassy front and back lawns in the city has dropped to just 9%.

“Because of all the little conservation actions that all of us have taken in our daily lives, we’ve managed to conserve water faster than new population growth has added water demand,” Wilson said.