Water Conservation

Water Conservation Alliance of Southern Arizona (Water CASA) – In 1997, the District became a founding member of Water CASA, which was formed to provide a means for a group of water providers to augment their individual conservation programs and to improve the region’s overall water conservation efforts. Water CASA actively pursues policy changes, conducts research, and develops projects that advance water conservation in new ways. One example is that the State’s graywater regulations were changed through Water CASA’s efforts so that graywater usage could be promoted. In 2005, Water CASA successfully pursued legislation to establish a tax credit for graywater or water harvesting systems that are installed. In 2010, Water CASA became a non-profit organization. Its current membership includes the District, Community Water Company of Green Valley, Flowing Wells Irrigation District, Marana, and Oro Valley. Visit watercasa.org.

Landscape Watering Advice – Tips for a Green, Water Wise Yard

Efficient Outdoor Watering Can Save You Time and Money. Outdoor water use can account for more than 50% of your water consumption and even more during the summer. By following this guide, you can reduce the amount of water you use and still keep your yard attractive.

  • Use Mother Nature as the primary irrigator.
  • Only irrigate to establish plants: no longer than 3 years.
  • Supplement with hand watering during times of prolonged drought.
  • Set irrigation systems to manual, ensuring that plants are watered only when they need water.
  • Plant only low water use plants.
  • Plant grass only for functional, physical use – such as children’s play areas, parks, ball fields.

Hand Watering vs. Drip System
An old fashioned handheld hose may be your most effective way to water. An American Water Works Association study found that “households that water with a handheld hose use 33% less water outdoors than other households.” Watering by hose or at least putting your irrigation system on manual means you only water when the plants need it. 

Unfortunately, technology can give a false sense of security. People think that because they have a drip system they are saving water and forget to maintain them or change timers. Drip irrigation systems save water ONLY if they are regularly maintained and the irrigation timer is adjusted every season.

TIP: When watering by hose, set a timer on your smartphone or microwave to remind you to turn off the water.

Principles for a Water Efficient Landscape

Planning and Design
Make a plan of your site to determine how you intend to use the areas around your home. The area closest to the house or building should have the most plants to provide shade and aesthetic appeal. Group plants together that have similar watering needs.

Low Water Use Plants
Many beautiful plants that provide year round color use little water and require less maintenance. Select plants that once established will not need irrigation. Consider the conditions of the location you want to plant, such as sunlight and proximity to other plants. Appropriate placement of plants can help reduce energy bills. Check out our demonstration garden for ideas on low maintenance and low water use plants.

Limit Grass Areas
Grass uses more water than anything else in a yard and requires more maintenance as well. Plant only low water types of grass where there is a functional need. Consider using one of the many drought tolerant groundcovers or install non-living decorative materials instead.

Water Harvesting Techniques
Incorporate water harvesting techniques into your landscape design. Locate plants where they can take advantage of this extra water. Channel runoff from rain to plants. Slope walkways toward plantings. Learn more about water harvesting systems and rebates here.

Efficient Irrigation
Match your irrigation method to the type of plant being watered – hand water or use drip irrigation for individual plants and spray irrigation for grass. Do not apply water faster than the soil can absorb it.

Apply mulches such as compost, bark chips, decomposed granite or river rock at the base of plants to retain moisture, keep weeds down, and control erosion.

Proper Maintenance
Many low water plants need little or no maintenance. Occasional pruning, fertilizing, weeding and pest control may be all that is necessary. A landscaper’s goal is to keep your plants green so there is sometimes a tendency to over water. Ask your landscaper to keep your yard attractive but to use water efficiently.

Water Deeply and Less Frequently
Many people overwater their plants even though most plants can survive just fine with less water. Watering deeply and less frequently encourages the root system to expand and strengthen, and uses water more efficiently. You can use the weather as an effective gauge for your watering schedule. Watch for signs your plants need more water. If plants wilt in the heat, begin to lose their leaves, or are not thriving, you may need to increase the watering times. When temperatures are over 100 degrees, keep a close watch on newly transplanted plants.

Shrubs and Groundcovers

Temperature1st Year2nd YearAfter 2 Years
Below 75 degreesEvery 2 weeksEvery 3 weeksEvery 30 days
75 – 90 degreesWeeklyEvery 2 weeksEvery 3 weeks
91 – 100 degreesTwice per weekWeeklyEvery 2 weeks
Over 100 degreesThree times per weekTwice per weekWeekly

This is a general guide to watering plants. The schedule is based on drip irrigation technology, two hour run-time, with one gallon per hour emitters. For your own yard, take into consideration the soil, plant size, plant location, plant type (low or high water use) and plant age.


Temperature1st Year2 – 5 YearsAfter 5 Years
Below 75 degreesEvery 2 weeksEvery 30 daysWater if no rainfall within 60 days
75 – 90 degreesEvery 5 – 7 daysEvery 3 weeksWater if no rainfall within 60 days
91 – 100 degreesWeeklyEvery 2 weeksGradually extend intervals between watering to every 3 weeks
Above 100 degreesTwice per weekWeeklyGradually extend intervals between watering to every 2 weeks

This is a general guide to watering trees. Citrus trees need more frequent watering and desert trees need less frequent. The schedule is based on drip irrigation technology, one to two hour run-times with two to three gallons per hour emitters. Trees should be watered to a three foot depth. Use a soil probe to determine if you need to adjust your watering schedule. For your own yard, take into consideration the soil, tree size, tree location, tree type (low or high water use) and tree age.

Principles for Lawn Watering
A 25×40 foot lawn can use more than 27,000 gallons of water a year

  • If you must have a lawn, plant only low water use types – such as Bermuda, Buffalograss and Paspaum.
  • Don’t overseed.
  • Water only when needed – many lawns can get by with less.
  • During the summer, water between midnight and 6:00 a.m. During this time, there is generally less wind, less evaporation, better soaking down to roots, and no low water pressure problems.
  • Daily watering, especially during the heat of the day, can damage grass.
  • Avoid watering on windy days or right after moderate or heavy rain.
  • If water runs off grass area, split the run time. Apply one half the normal amount of water. Wait an hour and then apply the other half.
  • Avoid cutting more than 1/3 of the grass height at one time to avoid stressing the grass and turning it yellow.
  • Aim your sprinklers where the water is needed, and don’t waste water on open dirt, sidewalks or driveways.
  • The best water principle for turf is removing it. Consider the time, money and water you would save if you no longer had to deal with that lawn on the weekend.

Signs of Overwatering

  • Puddles or soil is constantly damp
  • Leaves turn yellow or a lighter shade of green
  • Young shoots are wilted
  • Leaves are green yet brittle
  • Algae and mushrooms are growing

Signs of Underwatering

  • Soil is dry
  • Older leaves turn yellow or brown and drop off
  • Leaves are wilted
  • Leaves curl

Water Harvesting is a great source of water for your yard.

Indoor Watering Tips
Check for Leaks – Repair leaks as soon as possible. Leaks are unpredictable in the amount of water they can waste whether indoors or outdoors.

Toilet Leaks – A leak in your toilet may be wasting more than 100 gallons of water day. Studies show 1 out of 5 toilets can have leaks. To check, put a little food coloring in your toilet tank. If, without flushing, the coloring begins to appear in the bowl, you have a leak. Adjust or replace the flush valve or call a plumber.

Replace Old, Oversized Toilets – Metro Water District has a rebate program for 1.28 gallons or less high efficiency toilets. Click here for the toilet rebate form.

Replace Worn-Out Appliances with Water Efficient Models – If you are in the market for a new appliance, check its conservation features to determine if it will save water and other energy costs. Always make sure you have the dishwasher or washing machine completely full before starting the machine.

Maintain Evaporative Coolers – Replace cooler pads regularly. Inspect cooler float, pump and motor annually. Adjust bleed-off valves to discharge the minimum amount of water necessary.

Turn Off The Water When it is Not Being Used – Every little amount helps. Turn off the water when you do not need it whether you are brushing your teeth, rinsing dishes, washing vegetables, shaving, etc. Collect clean water in a bowl or use a sink stopped to hold water in the sink whenever possible.

Keep a Pitcher or Bottle of Drinking Water in the Refrigerator – This ends the wasteful practice of running tap water to cool it off for drinking.