The city of Scottsdale reduced municipal water use by 38 million gallons in 2022, fulfilling a commitment it made last January as the Colorado River basin faced worsening drought. In January 2022, Scottsdale launched a conservation campaign and asked residents and businesses to cut their water use by 5%. The effort came as the city officially declared Stage One of its Drought Management Plan – an action directly aligned with the Tier One Colorado River shortage declared by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
While overall water usage among residents and businesses remained steady during the year, grass removal rebates and outdoor water efficiency check programs reached record numbers. These numbers show that more people in the community are taking tangible steps to reduce their household water use, giving momentum to the city’s goal of reducing water consumption. Overall, the city of Scottsdale reduced its water use by 6% in comparison with the average amount used over the past five years. A series of infrastructure and operational improvements—finding and fixing water leaks; installing more efficient equipment, and not planting winter grass in many parks—led to significant savings that were then invested back into the city’s aging pipeline system.
Water Services and Conservation
For the first time, Scottsdale Water partnered with a contracting team, No-DES—using a water recycling and filtration truck to clean more than nine miles of city pipes. To flush and scour the city’s water pipes, traditional methods involved opening fire hydrants. However, this new method—which recaptures and cleans that flushed water—saved Scottsdale nearly five million gallons in 2022.
The Water Conservation team enhanced marketing communication with customers to establish a 300% increase in grass removal rebates. The city estimates that the removal of 219,000 square feet of grass will save about 50 gallons per square foot on average—a total water savings of 11 million gallons a year.
Scottsdale Facilities completed a cooling tower water reduction project, installing new cooling tower controllers at seven different city facilities: Civic Center Library, Police Department and Fire Department Headquarters, Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West, Police District 1, City Hall, and Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. The new control systems have reduced water usage by 19% when compared with the same period in 2021, totaling more than 894,000 gallons of water savings. With all seven water-management controllers now installed, Facilities estimates the annual savings will increase to 1.3 million gallons in 2023.
Parks & Rec
The Scottsdale Parks and Recreation Department was able to save considerable amounts of water by more aggressively finding and fixing leaks, implementing advanced drip irrigation systems, and reducing grass in areas that are not commonly used for recreation. This reduction in water consumption—5 million gallons less than the amount used in 2021—has also helped bring about a 5.8% drop in the department’s overall average water usage over the past five years.
Removing nearly 62,000 square feet of grass at four parks in 2022 will save three million gallons of water each year. Additional areas converted to xeriscape landscaping in 2023 include Eldorado Park. The Parks Department has stayed consistently ahead of the curve by keeping water savings below the Arizona Department of Water Resources allotment – in 2022, Scottsdale Parks used 25% less water than was allotted by ADWR.
Drought and conservation awareness were increased throughout the city through public outreach and education campaigns. Successful communications included social media campaigns, more than a dozen direct customer communication publications, citywide articles and emails, community presentations, and roughly 100 earned media placements throughout the viewing area.
The city’s drought management team continues will continue to look at internal processes and procedures so that it can focus on water savings opportunities moving forward. The goal of a 5% reduction in 2023 will continue, with the hopes that more residents and businesses—who have been reluctant participants before—will now get involved.