Scottsdale says residents reduced water use, despite hottest month on record

The city has used almost 180 million gallons less water this July, thanks to a combination of community buy-in and grass removal rebate programs.
Published: Aug. 14, 2023 at 11:01 AM MST
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SCOTTSDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- Scottsdale residents significantly reduced water usage during the Valley’s hottest month on record, according to new figures released by the city. Temperatures soared to as much as 119 degrees on three separate July days, and in spite of that, water use was down 7% during the month compared to 2021 data.

“Scottsdale residents are amazingly adaptive and are true leaders in water conservation,” said Brian Biesemeyer, executive director of Scottsdale Water. “To save millions of gallons of water during a period when temperatures hit 110+ degrees 30 times in one month shows that people are listening and that they care about water sustainability here in Arizona.”

While city administrators have done a lot to curb water use at government facilities and in the business sector, Scottsdale credits most of this year’s efforts to residential, single-family customers. “For the first seven months of 2023, Scottsdale has reduced its overall water use by more than 166 million gallons,” explained Scottsdale Water spokesperson Valerie Schneider.

The city is also crediting water conservation efforts from its popular grass removal rebate, which saw a 450% increase leading up to July, a public outreach campaign, and a citywide call out to voluntarily reduce water by at least 5%. Additionally, residents were asked not to water between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. daily.

For Scottsdale resident Julie Weyn and her family, changing a good portion of the landscaping from grass to turf has cut her monthly water bill in half. “To see how much water was needed to keep everything thriving, it was just overloaded,” Weyn said. “Costs are going to continue to rise. And if we want to keep living in this amazing area, we’re all going to have to start doing our part.”

Add in the fact that the City of Scottsdale will pay homeowners to make the switch, and Biesemeyer says interest has skyrocketed. “This recent fiscal year that just ended, we spent over $700,000,” Biesemeyer said. “Prior to that, we would average about $150,000. So people have been paying attention and removing large amounts of grass.”

Grass removal is one part of a drought management plan introduced back in November 2021. They are also asking homeowners and businesses to voluntarily cut down on water usage and when they’re using that water. “The drought’s not over,” he said. “We have to conserve where we can. And we firmly believe that if we’re conserving now, we’re actually conserving for future generations.”

Biesemeyer says the next water-saving step is getting rid of small, decorative strips of grass that don’t serve any functional purpose. Over at the Weyn household, Julie’s already brainstorming other ways to use less water. “I get so much water that runs down that I’m now thinking I’m going to add buckets,” she said. “And do a rain barrel on the side of the house. So when we do get the hot days, I can just draw from the bucket.”

In 2021, the City of Scottsdale activated stage one of its drought management plan in an effort to help deal with the historic drought impacting the region after the feds issued a “Tier 1″ water shortage on the Colorado River. The following year, the city announced it would no longer bring water to the unincorporated community of Rio Verde Foothills, which led to litigation between residents and the city.

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