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Tucson nears its goal.

Tucson nears its goal

Water is the West's most problematic resource --nowhere more so than in Arizona, where growing cities drink shrinking suppliees of ground water.

But the state also has its Groundwater Management Act, the most ambitious in the nation. By 2025 Arizona cities must attain "safe yield": no more overdrafts.

Tucson may be nearest that goal. Since 1976, it has discouraged watering at peak evaporation hours; water rates reward conservation. More recent innovations:

Landscaping. County ordinances demand water-conscious landscaping around public buildings and commercial property. Nine of 20 area golf courses are watered with effluent; by 1995, all new ones will be.

Low-flow plumbing. The city mandates low-flow shower heads and 3.5-ballon-flush toilets in new construction. Stricter measures are featured at a demonstration home, Casa del Agua, where per capita water use is a mere 40 gallons per day.

Tucson's daily use is 168 gallons per resident, 57 percent of Phoenix's rate. But these efforts aren't enough: Tucson must also buy ranch land for more water rights.

Some observers note the city's projected growth--to 1.5 million by 2025--and wonder if any policy can suffice. But, says Marybeth Carlie of the Southern Arizona Water Resources Association, conservation and the 1991 arrival of Colorado River water via the Central Arizona Project mean that for a time Tucson won't have to panic about water supply. "Not doing anyting about conservation," she says, "would be a reason to panic."

Photo: Medians in Tucson spotlight water-miser plants: palo verde (left), acacia (right)
COPYRIGHT 1988 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1988 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sunset's 90th Anniversary Special Report; water conservation management
Date:May 1, 1988
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