Nov 16, 2022 - News

Phoenix water officials offer conservation tips to combat drought

Animated illustration of a spigot with droplets of water falling.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Phoenix officials have held town halls to teach people how to conserve water amid the ongoing drought that's gripping the western U.S.

  • The town halls are part of the first stage of the city's drought contingency plan.

Why it's important: The Colorado River is facing a severe shortage due to an ongoing megadrought that ranks as the region's worst in 1,200 years.

State of play: About two dozen residents attended one at Saguaro Library last week.

  • Cynthia Campbell, the city's water resources management adviser, and Max Wilson, its water conservation coordinator, made several suggestions to help save on outdoor water usage.

What they're saying: Don't overwater plants. Even the "thirstiest" plants don't need to be watered more than once every three days if you do it long enough for the water to be absorbed by the roots.

  • "We'd like you to at least not water more than grass needs in June," Wilson said.
  • Every square foot of grass that you replace with xeriscaping — landscaping that requires little irrigation — can save 40-55 gallons of water per year.

Of note: 70% of homes' water usage is outdoors.

  • You can text WHENTOWATER to 33222 to get monthly reminders from the city on how and when to water outside.

Yes, and: Check your home for indoor leaks at least four times a year, and fix any leaks you find within a week.

  • Look for water or for stains that have repeatedly dried.
  • Wilson said most leaks can be fixed with a few dollars' worth of supplies, a few minutes and instructions from a YouTube video.
  • When you replace appliances that use water, get new ones that are more efficient.

Reality check: For now, the city has a water portfolio that Campbell described as "robust and diverse," with 58% of annual usage coming from the Salt and Verde rivers, 40% coming from the drought-depleted Colorado River, and 2% coming from groundwater, which she called the last resort because it's non-replenishable.

What we're watching: Campbell said the city uses less water now than it did in 2000 thanks to improvements in efficiency, but drought conditions could force it to take more drastic actions.

  • Water rates are likely to go up next year as the city plans for future shortages.
  • The city council will consider new conservation policies in the coming weeks, including efficiency standards for new homes.
  • If conditions worsen, the city may have to look at options such as finding new water supplies or imposing mandatory restrictions.

How to participate: If you want to attend, the city is holding its final town hall at 6pm Wednesday at South Mountain Community College Library.

  • You can also watch the city's water presentation online.

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Phoenix.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Phoenix stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Phoenix.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more