Water for Tucson, So where do we get it?
Historically, Tucson has pumped water from the regional aquifer (sediments below the surface that are saturated like a sponge). When our population was small, rainfall percolating down to the aquifer and replenished the source of water. As Tucson grew, the paving over the land causes the water to runoff. Groundwater levels in southern Arizona have declined by more than 500 feet over the last century.
To conserve what little groundwater that is left, in 2001 Tucson began to mix Colorado River water brought south via the Central Arizona Project (CAP), a canal that brings Colorado River water from Northern to Southern Arizona. Tucson Water spends $20 million each year to pump and deliver recharged CAP water over the Tucson Mountains. Having traveled so far, the quality of water decreases, and needs treatment. Right now, about half of Tucson’s water comes from groundwater and half from the CAP. Arguably, both of these sources are unsustainable.
Mayor Rothschild stated “We’re surrounded by four mountain ranges and a unique desert, a tropical desert. We get 11-12 inches of rain per year, which is right on the edge of what defines a desert. If folks move from other parts of the country, they’re probably coming at least partially for the sun. Even if they move from Phoenix, where they still grow lawns, they’ll quickly learn we do things differently here. If we are going to continue to thrive, water is our most precious resource. We must make huge efforts on water conservation and water preservation.”
Tucson’s own rainwater is enough to keep our needs sustained each year. Capturing rainfall with berms, swells and retention ponds will retain it long enough to seep into the ground. Harvesting will cause an increase vegetation and natural shade, and decrease overall temperatures and save us all money. The implementation of simple rain harvesting techniques, Rain Garden Resource Guide, can save us money but also utilize mother earth’s resources to the fullest potential! Water is a precious and limited resource, and by applying our knowledge to conserve it, we will impact this vital commodity for our future. Lets get the word out and make rainwater harvesting a reality in Tucson!
See City of Tucson video Examples of Rainwater Harvesting
Rainwater Harvesting Program Resources: Rainwater Harvesting Rebate Program