May 01 2017Share

Save Water (And Money) Outside This Summer

By Warren Tenney

We're approaching peak demand season for city water departments, which means peak water bills for residents and businesses. The demand for water is at its highest in June or July when landscape irrigation systems, pools and cooling towers are working at maximum capacity. Cities build infrastructure to meet this annual peak demand and ensure there's enough water for homes, business and fire hydrants.

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Right now, seven AMWUA cities will help you pay to decrease your summer outdoor water use through conservation rebates. The rebates usually come in two different categories: those for residential customers and those for non-residential or commercial customers. Commercial customers generally include homeowners associations, apartment complexes, churches, schools and businesses.

All AMWUA cities have water conservation programs but not all cities offer rebates. A city creates a water conservation program based on its customers’ demands and its infrastructure. A city also considers its demographics, budget, age and size - and the age and size of its houses and businesses. Cities sometimes offer unique rebate programs, such as the City of Scottsdale, the first city in Arizona to help encourage homeowners to remove pools and spas and water softeners. Conservation programs also change over time depending on how effective they have been at saving water.

Cities that offer rebates have a limited amount of funding, so it’s best to get your application in early. Here are rebates worth looking into before the temperatures start to climb. You can find the details about these rebates on your city’s website. Here is a link to the rebates offered by seven AMWUA cities.  The following are rebates that specifically can help you reduce your outdoor water use as well as how much time you have to spend maintaining your yard.

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Irrigation Controllers: Desert adapted landscapes don’t save water unless those who are caring for them understand their irrigation systems and how much water their trees, cactus, shrubs and grass need to thrive. Overwatering a drought-tolerant landscape is a common mistake that threatens the health of your plants and wastes water. That’s why many cities offer rebates to encourage residents to install automated irrigation controllers, particularly weather-based controllers. These irrigation controllers make daily adjustments to the amount of water used on your landscape based on weather data and information about site conditions, such as soil moisture, rain, wind, slope, soil, and plant type. Manufacturers provide videos that make them easy to set up. If you look for the WaterSense label, you’ll know you have a reliable, water-saving product. (Please consider joining the campaign to save the WaterSense program, a small but very successful national conservation program, from federal budget cuts.) Here are AMWUA cities that will help make that purchase easier.

  • City of Avondale: $50 rebate to homeowners toward any new automatically activated multi-program irrigation controller. Commercial customers receive a $200 rebate toward purchasing and installing weather-based irrigation controllers.
  • City of Chandler: $250 rebate toward a weather-based irrigation controller. Homeowners are eligible for one controller, and commercial properties are eligible for up to five controller rebates.
  • City of Peoria: $250 rebate toward a new weather-based irrigation controller.
  • City of Scottsdale: Up to a $250 rebate to install a new weather based controller. Homeowners are eligible for one controller, and commercial properties and HOAs can apply to replace the current number of irrigation controllers on their property.

Turf Replacement: It takes about half the amount of water to keep drought-tolerant trees and plants thriving compared to grass. A small amount of grass in your yard is great but sustainable desert living also means landscaping with drought-resistant trees and shrubs. That’s why some AMWUA cities will help homeowners and commercial properties with the cost of replacing all or some grass with drought-resistant plants and trees to permanently reduce their water use. Remember, just removing grass doesn’t make you eligible for a rebate. The grass must be replaced by low-water-use landscaping.

  • City of Avondale: $200 rebate to homeowners. Commercial properties are eligible for rebates starting at $200 per 1,000-square-feet of grass replaced with a maximum of $3,000.
  • City of Chandler: $200 rebate for installing more than 50 percent desert adapted landscaping in a new home. Existing homes and commercial properties are eligible for a rebate of $200 per 1,000-square-feet of grass replaced with a maximum of $3,000.
  • City of Glendale:  $200 rebate to owners of new homes. Existing homes are eligible for up to $750. Commercial properties are eligible for rebates starting at $150 per 1,000-square-feet of grass replaced with a maximum of $3,000.
  • City of Mesa: $500 rebate to homeowners who replace 500-square-feet or more of grass. Commercial properties are eligible for a $5,000 rebate for replacing a minimum of 10,000 square feet of grass.
  • City of Peoria: $150 rebate to new homeowners who choose 50 percent desert landscaping. Customers with existing landscapes must replace a minimum of 500 square feet and are eligible for up to $1,650.
  • City of Scottsdale: Up to $1,500 to homeowners who remove a minimum of 500 square-feet of turf. Up to a $5,000 per year for commercial & HOA properties to remove a minimum of 2,000-square-feet of grass, in up to three calendar years.
  • City of Tempe: A rebate of 25 cents per square foot of grass. Commercial properties have a maximum of $3,000. Tempe also offers $1 per linear foot to any homeowner or business that removes strips of grass between the curb and the sidewalk. (These strips are hard to water and sprinklers usually water more of the street than the turf.)

Taking advantage of these conservation rebate saves you money, gives you a low-maintenance yard, and helps you use water more efficiently.

For 48 years, Arizona Municipal Water Users Association has worked to protect our member cities’ ability to provide assured, safe and sustainable water supplies to their communities. For more water information visit

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