Dec 13 2022Share

The impact of Arizona’s long conservation history

By AMWUA Staff

As the attention to water continues to intensify, the spotlight on conservation efforts grows. Some question what Arizona and municipal water providers are doing regarding water conservation, especially with the Colorado River shortage deepening.

The truth is that Arizona leaders recognized decades ago that we needed to embed conservation and efficiency into our daily lives with the recognition that we live in an arid state and water is precious. So for more than 40 years, Arizona has mandated conservation for municipal water providers.

Since the 1980s, the AMWUA cities have responded with proactive conservation programs that have exceeded State requirements and steadily built a strong conservation culture for their communities. Due to this, Arizona water providers, including our member municipalities, have been able to rely on voluntary conservation actions rather than imposing mandatory watering restrictions.

Here are key facts that demonstrate the impact of water conservation in Arizona and among our member municipalities:

  • The ten AMWUA cities are committed to wise water management and efficient water use. This is evident by the fact that they collectively provide water to 3.7 million residents, more than half of the state's population, but only use 11% of Arizona's water.
  • Collectively, the AMWUA cities use roughly the same amount of drinking water today as they did in 2000, despite adding one million residents.
  • Since 1987, the population within Arizona's urbanized areas has grown by 212% while its gallons per capita per day (GPCD) decreased by 21%.
  • Communities in the densely populated areas of Arizona have adapted their water portfolios to best serve their customers while being responsible water stewards, resulting in collectively decreasing their groundwater withdrawals by 26% from 2000 to 2019.
  • The Phoenix area has seen a cultural shift in landscape preferences over time. In the 1970s, approximately 80% of single-family properties had majority grass landscapes; today, in the City of Phoenix, that number is less than 9%.
  • Since the early 1980s, only low-water-use plants and no grass have been permitted in public medians and rights-of-ways.
  • Parks, schools, golf courses, and other large turf facilities within Arizona's most populous areas must adhere to water allotment regulations and annual reporting requirements.   
  • For 35 years, Arizona has prohibited drinking water from being used to create or maintain manmade lakes in residential subdivisions.
  • Large water providers in Arizona must meet conservation regulations, including metering all connections, which is not required or done in other states. The ten AMWUA cities collectively have over 1,065,000 metered connections.
  • In addition to meeting the state-mandated conservation requirements, AMWUA cities collectively implement 106 common-sense ordinances such as plumbing efficiency requirements, water waste prohibitions, and limitations on grass.
  • In 2020, the AMWUA cities collectively had an average system water loss of only 5.49%, well below the 10% Arizona requirement and the national average of 16%. 
  • In 2022, Arizona committed $1.4 billion for long-term water augmentation, reuse, and conservation projects for Arizona communities.

We all recognize that conservation actions are more vital than ever as pressures on our water supplies increase. While reducing your individual water use won't solve the Colorado River shortage, all conservation measures enable your city to maximize and stretch its water supplies which are crucial when dealing with the consequences of a historic drought and shortages. And just as they always have, the AMWUA cities remain committed to continually building upon past and current conservation efforts. This is vital to ensure reliable and resilient water supplies now and for future generations.

To learn more about the available conservation programs and resources, Ask An Expert. We also have plenty of information about What You Can Do to help you by making water-wise changes.

A printable version of our conservation facts can be found HERE.

For 50 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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