Water Conservation Really Works: Quenching a Desert City's Thirst Without Running Out of Water


photo: J. Novak

Many western states, like California, recently have had to contend with some severe water issues, so how has Phoenix, which is located smack in the middle of the desert, managed continually to serve the water needs of nearly 3.5 million people? The answer is a lesson in how a comprehensive water strategy can effectively serve an area not blessed with an overabundance of water, and how these ideas can be utilized throughout the country.Fresh water seemingly should be a point of contention in a city like Phoenix, but some how this city in the midst of a vast desert still manages to serve its residents' water needs, according to a story on Mother Nature Network.

Water Conservation Efforts Make a Difference in Phoenix
Conservation ideas set forth by the city’s Water Resource Plan reduced the city’s water use by 20 percent. The plan, which emphasizes everything from xeriscaping to doing laundry at night and flushing the toilet only when necessary, proves that these techniques truly can make a difference. According to the mayor, that’s why the city is so far ahead of the game.

Mayor Phil Gordon says that Phoenix uses less water today than they did a decade ago, and less per capita than two decades ago, which was well before the city's recent population explosion. First, the city had to find a reliable source of water and get that water to the city's residents. A network of canals in and around Phoenix send precious untreated water from the Salt River Dam, where turbines generate electricity for much of Arizona, to various water treatment facilities around the city. "Using nothing more than gravity, city controllers can open up smaller networks of canals on a regularly scheduled basis for landscaping use," according to the city of Phoenix Water Resource Plan.

The city is also planning for future shortages by banking on aquifers. These basins can hold a great lake's worth of water which can be banked over the years whenever Arizona has excess. The city's Department of Water Resources focuses on reuse and conservation to maximize the amount banked each year. The stored water, which amounts to more than a year's supply for emergency use, is scrubbed clean by minerals, according to Jack Lavelle of the Arizona Department of Water Resources.

More on Water Conservation:
Riverkeeper Protects Hudson River and Works to Improve New York City's Drinking Water http://planetgreen.discovery.com/travel-outdoors/riverkeeper-protects-hudson-river.html
Reuse a Leaky Garden Hose, Make a Soaker Hose
What the Water Crisis Really Means for You and the Planet

Tags: Arizona | Conservation