Water restrictions coming to Tucson “sooner rather than later”

KOLD News 6-6:30 p.m. recurring
Published: Nov. 21, 2022 at 7:59 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - As the Colorado River continues to deplete, cities, towns and states are looking for ways to conserve without being too harsh.

Thirty communities and water districts from Arizona, California and beyond have signed a memorandum of understanding calling for cuts to water use, some more drastic than others.

Because Tucson has been a national leader in water conservation, the cuts won’t be as severe as in many other communities, but they will be noticeable.

Let’s start with grass.

“Everybody has to look at it with an eye to, is this really a functional piece of grass or is it just nice and pretty and green,” said Tucson Ward 6 council member Steve Kozachik.

Take for instance, all those ornamental patches of grass lining the sidewalks and streets along First Avenue at Wetmore or Campbell and Glenn.

“If the piece of ground you’re looking at is some place where you throw a Frisbee with your dog or let the kids run around a play, that’s probably legit,” Kozachik says. “That would be city parks.”

Or think about all that grass at the University of Arizona, especially around the mall. Good, or could it go?

“To the university, that is iconic and they’re not going to tear up the mall,” he said. “It’s used for multiple different kinds of events that make it functional turn as opposed to ornamental, so don’t look for that to be going away.”

Those are the kinds of decisions the city will be making in the next few weeks as the water shortage on the Colorado becomes more dire.

Maybe that grassy front lawn is more ornamental than practical and needs to go. The city will likely give people the chance to decide for themselves before taking any action.

“I much prefer to see conservation measures that we’re going to implement be voluntary, encourage people rather than to mandate certain things,” Kozachik said.

So, what other thing might be talking about other than just getting rid of grass.

Asking people to wash cars in a car wash rather than on their driveway. That way the water goes into the sewer system rather than down the street.

Or drain their pools into the sewer system rather than allow the thousands of gallons of water drain down the street where it doesn’t get recycled.

Fix leaks in the house. Be wary of watering too many plants.

There’s a whole host of things we’ll be looking at in the next year or so which will reduce our demand.

“Anytime you write an ordinance that has mandates written into it, there has to be consequences,” he said. “If people don’t comply, we’ll work with the city attorney on what those consequences are.”