City Council unanimously approves water conservation recommendations

(Lisa Diethelm/DD)

On Tuesday, the Phoenix City Council unanimously approved the recommendations of the Water Conservation Ad Hoc Committee Report at the City Council Chambers.

“How can we conserve more water? How can we save more water so future generations will be able to have ample water supply?” said City Councilwoman Thelda Williams, who established the Water Conservation Ad Hoc Committee.

The committee established three subcommittees to focus on limiting water use that focused on areas such as landscaping, codes/incentives and education and outreach.

The committee has 12 members that include Phoenix residents, city councilmembers, educators and officials from businesses that focus on water conservation.

“We have the potential to make thousands of Phoenix schoolchildren water conservation champions in their homes and in their communities,” said fifth-grade educator and committee member Kate Studey. “These students will eventually become our decision makers.”

The subcommittees held 11 meetings in 2019 that led to 14 new or expanded water conservation initiatives that the committee believes will meet their conservation metric by 2030, according to the committee’s policy agenda document.

Some of the 14 initiatives include the City offering free landscape designs requiring little or no irrigation to residential customers, placing door hangers on houses to inform and educate residents and provide a free web-based tool for residential customers to develop water budgets.

The committee estimates that five additional full time employees are necessary to complete the recommendations. The committee estimates this will cost $1.5 million.

The goal is to reduce the total gallons of water per capita per day (GPCD) from the current 169 gallons to 155 gallons by 2030.

The committee was formed because of a 2016 Phoenix Metropolitan Area Multi-City Water Use Study conducted by the cities of Phoenix, Glendale and Gilbert.

The study found that residential water consumption has decreased by nearly 30% since 1990 while the population increased by around 400,000 people. The study also found that the greatest use of water on residential properties is outdoors.

To lower water use in residential areas, the study recommends that the cities’ residents limit water intensive landscapes and include desert-adaptive plants that require less water.

The study also encouraged swimming pools because pool water use is minimal compared to other outdoor water uses such as irrigation.

The study showed that faucets, washing machines, showers and toilets accounted for the majority of indoor water use.

The meeting also gave updated information on Phoenix’s international trade strategy.

The strategy staff proposed a solicitation to reopen the City’s trade offices in Hermosillo and Mexico City for at least one year and actively pursue economic development opportunities with businesses and investors from Mexico.

Contact the reporter at [email protected].