BY: Warren Tenney

Wise Water Use Brings Long-Term Sustainability for Arizona

Published Jan 06, 2020

We live in the desert. We are not surrounded by endless lakes and rivers or showered with regular doses of precipitation, so water is scarce. That reality means that for us to continue to be sustainable for the long term, conservation matters, and it does make a difference.

Being efficient with the water we have is up to all of us. Conservation is not the sole responsibility of urban homeowners but also relies upon our collective commitment in all areas across the State – residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural – to use water wisely . To achieve sustainability for our way of life in our desert climate we need everyone, from border to border and top to bottom, to pitch in and do their part. That is why the AMWUA cities have and will continue to invest in infrastructure, water supplies, underground storage, and conservation programs. They have worked hard to ensure sustainable growth within their communities and will continue to plan, prepare and ensure they are efficient at all levels. It matters, and it is making a difference.

The AMWUA cities have collectively contributed to developing a conservation ethic here in the Valley. This culture of using water wisely is the result of over 35 years of working together to build shared conservation resources and programs. Despite a prolonged drought, no water-use restrictions have had to be imposed, thanks to these efforts and the strong water management that exists. In addition, overall water usage in the cities is not increasing and in some, it’s even declined, even as the Valley continues to grow and develop. The ten AMWUA cities have been achieving average per household reductions of two percent or more annually. Since 2000, the City of Phoenix grew by more than a quarter-million people, yet residential water use has actually declined by 12.5 percent. This, in part,  is due to the more than 300 best management practices implemented by our cities. Each city has dedicated conservation staff , as well as rebates , resources, and programs tailored specifically to assist their residents and businesses. These conservation programs have ensured residents and business owners have the tools and knowledge to be efficient with water use and they have embraced a desert-adapted lifestyle, indoors and out.

We understand challenges lie ahead, and our collective goal of being sustainable for the long-term remains the priority, but we cannot do it alone. As we head into a drier future and to sustain our population across the State, especially as it increases, strong water management on all levels will be vital to our collective success. At the State and local level, we need decision-makers to ensure they are instituting vetted policies that safeguard our water resources. We need legislators and state agencies to recognize protecting groundwater in urban and rural areas of the State is the foundation for protecting consumers and property owners. We need to update the State’s water efficiency plumbing standard. We need stakeholders from urban and rural areas across Arizona to find ways to collaborate on water, which is key to our longevity. We need industry leaders, business owners and residents to continue to look at ways to be efficient, which is why the cities will continue to build programs and resources to ensure they have the knowledge and capability to do so.

We have entered a new year and a new decade which means as a desert-dwelling society it’s the perfect time to recommit our united efforts to being efficient and embracing conservation. This will allow us to continue to prosper and enjoy our vibrant way of life in the desert. And through continued innovation and collaboration we can continue to be leaders in efficiency and demand management because when we all do our part and use water wisely, life in our desert will remain sustainable for generations to come.

For over 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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