By Valerie Schneider
Photo Courtesy of Scottsdale Water
After committing to a 5% reduction in water use in 2022, Scottsdale announces city operations have exceeded expectations and achieved 8% reductions when comparing first quarter data. Residential and commercial use for this same period is down 2.5% – halfway to achieving the voluntary reduction goal.
Since enacting Stage One of Scottsdale’s Drought Management Plan, the city has made considerable efforts to find ways to reduce water savings through Scottsdale-run facilities and processes:
• Scottsdale facilities has executed an extensive water audit program that has been utilized on 49 facilities so far this year – prioritizing the largest facilities for maximum water savings. The department has undergone replacing existing fixture upgrades, optimizing cooling tower processes, and performing leak detection audits.
• Scottsdale Parks and Recreation has contributed significantly to reaching this goal as part of their commitment to conservation efforts with a goal of 15% less water use than annually allotted.
• Scottsdale Water has hired a contract team that accomplishes water main and hydrant flushing by recycling water back into the system instead of discharging water into the streets – a feat that can save more than 300,000 gallons of water per day. During the contracted four-day period, more than five miles of pipes were flushed, saving more than one-million gallons of water from being wasted.
The data was analyzed based on a three-year average from 2019-2021. This average accounts for an increase in residential use during COVID, a very dry summer in 2020, and a wet monsoon season in 2021.
“This is exciting news,” says Scottsdale Water Executive Director Brian Biesemeyer. “The city has really embraced increasing water conservation on the news of the Colorado River shortage and it’s rewarding to know that efforts are paying off… With summer and peak water demand season, everyone needs to make a conscience effort to conserve this precious resource.”
To assist resident and commercial customers in the 5% voluntary reduction goal, Scottsdale Water has many resources available online and in person to help residents and businesses find opportunities to reduce their water use. Several of the programs include leak detection through a new WaterSmart portal, rebates for turf removal and WaterSense fixture installation, and through landscape and irrigation upgrades.
In 2022, the city’s Water Conservation team has received an 800% increase in homeowner’s association (HOA) inquiries for assistance; a statistic that shows while the water numbers may not be where the city hopes quite yet, the word is getting out. The conservation team assists these HOAs by internally looking at their water use and finding ways to improve efficiency, particularly in eliminating turf areas and converting to desert landscaping – something that has saved other HOAs thousands of gallons of water daily.
Scottsdale City Manager Jim Thompson officially announced Stage One of Scottsdale’s Drought Management Plan on August 16, 2021, because of the Bureau of Reclamation’s (BOR) declaration of a Tier One Colorado River shortage and the urgency of the situation on this river system. Recent forecasts by the BOR show an increased likelihood of a Tier 2 shortage for 2023.
While water will continue to be delivered as normal to customers now and into the future, Scottsdale views this declaration as a significant milestone that requires extensive examination by all customers to further use water wisely and efficiently for the long-term viability and sustainability of the city.
More information can be found at ScottsdaleAZ.gov; search “shortage” for more information on the Colorado River shortage, or search “water conservation” for specific ways to save water.
Valerie Schneider is the Public Information Officer for Scottsdale Water.