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Thaumas P. Ehr, Landscape Architect

Plan Now to Save Water this Summer

The cool winter months in our great state -- when we typically get our highest amount of rainfall -- are a good time to consider how we're going to conserve water in the coming months.It's also a good time to think about the planning and investment Arizona has done to ensure residents have enough supply to meet their needs.The state Department of Economic Security projects that Arizona -- already home to more than 6 million people -- will see its population increase to 10 million by 2028, and 13 million by 2055.

Conservation is crucial to our future water supply. Salt River Project says when it comes to being a responsible homeowner, the most important thought to keep in mind is simple: We have enough water, just not enough to waste. To encourage residents to make wise choices and to help protect the U.S. water supply, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency started the WaterSense program. By promoting new water-efficient products and services, the program has created relationships with key utility, manufacturing and retail partners nationwide.If a manufacturer meets the EPA's specifications for WaterSense, its product can use the WaterSense label.The program is voluntary and promotes the following: The value of water-efficiency. Easy ways to help consumers save water. Innovation in manufacturing.

Decreased water usage and reduced strain on resources and infrastructure. Labeled products that are at least 20 percent more efficient without sacrificing performance.The WaterSense label makes it easy for consumers to identify water-efficient indoor and outdoor products, including irrigation controllers, spray-rinse valves, drip-system equipment, bathroom-sink faucets, low-flow toilets and showerheads.Since most of the water used throughout our desert doesn't fall from the sky, more than 100 years of planning and water management have been in place to supply farmers, ranchers and residents.We're currently storing and delivering it from the Salt and Verde rivers and pumping it from the Colorado River.According to the City of Scottsdale, about 80 percent of single-family residences use 11,000 or fewer gallons per month.While this number may sound high, it's only slightly higher than the national average, which the U.S. Geological Survey, says is approximately 300 gallons of water per day (about 9,000 gallons per month) for homes with four or more people. That includes backyard irrigation, toilet flushing, dishwashing, washing clothes, showering, cooking and drinking.Central Arizona Project is a major source of water for a large part of Arizona residences. Most water delivered to cities via the CAP is used by single-family residential customers.

The water for irrigating backyards is non-potable, reclaimed water (recycled water that is unsafe to consume) and a mix of raw CAP water."Water -- Use It Wisely" offices have developed a step-by-step guide to landscape watering.You can use the money- and water-saving tips to help figure how much, how long and how often to water your landscape plants. Follow these steps to keep them healthy and beautiful:

  • Depending on size and types of plants (tree, shrub or groundcover), you will need to water to different depths and widths. A large tree needs more water than small groundcover because it has a larger root zone, the area in which the plant's feeder roots are concentrated. Your plants will be healthiest if you completely wet the root zone each time you water.Once you determine how much water your plants need, you need to find out how much water your irrigation system applies.
  • Measure drip or bubble output. Drip emitters are typically used around trees and shrubs and are sized in gallons or liters per hour. If you have more than one emitter on a plant (and you often should), total the output of the emitters on each plant.For example, if your tree has three 2-gallon-per-hour emitters, the output will be three emitters times 2 gallons, for 6 gallons per hour.For 100 more tips on how to efficiently irrigate your backyard, check out

Water-saving tips:

  •  Toilets are the biggest water user in the house. Switching to high-efficiency toilets (using 1.3 gallons per flush) can save about 15,000 to 20,000 gallons per year for a family of four.
  • Water- and energy-efficient front-loading clothes washers use 35 to 50 percent less water.
  • Fixing leaky faucets throughout your home can save 140 gallons of water per week.
  • Replacing older showerheads with models that use 2 or 2½ gallons-per-minute can save 3 gallons per minute when you shower.
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