Santa Cruz River Featured Video
Reclaiming an Oasis in the Desert
Tony Paniagua, Arizona Public Media
If arid regions hope to maintain their valuable riparian areas, we must strive to maintain a balance between the competing water demands of the human and natural environment. Achieving this balance will require many conservation actions, including innovative policy.
Urban centers simultaneously consume great amounts of water and produce voluminous amounts of treated wastewater, or effluent, which can be used to restore and maintain riparian areas. Therefore, there are promising opportunities to secure high quality effluent specifically to support in-stream flows and sustain riparian areas.
Another challenge is is maximizing efficiency in water use. For example, a high percentage (over 40% in Tucson) of commercial and residential water use is for outdoor landscaping. When utilized correctly, rainwater harvesting techniques allow time for precipitation to infiltrate, rather than quickly run off, and meet 100% of the water needs of landscaping.
Sonoran Institute strives to support policy reform that protects riparian areas and promotes more efficient water consumption. In 2010, Sonoran Institute helped develop two city ordinances in Tucson that will facilitate the reduction of water used for irrigation of landscapes.
• Tucson’s Commercial Rainwater Harvesting Ordinance (Ordinance No. 10597) – as of June 1, 2010 all new commercial construction must: meet 50 percent of their landscape demand with harvested rainwater, prepare a site water harvesting plan and water budget, meter outdoor water use, and use irrigation controls that respond to soil moisture.
New Water Harvesting Guidance for Santa Cruz County
Santa Cruz County Water Harvesting Guidance Manual August 2012
Formally adopted by Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors as recommended guidance, this manual provides information for professionals and individual home-owners interested in implementing water harvesting. Water harvesting is the process of intercepting stormwater from a surface such as a roof, parking area, or land surface, and putting it to beneficial use. Using harvested stormwater for landscape irrigation will conserve limited groundwater resources. In addition, water harvesting helps eliminate stormwater pollutants and reduces downstream flooding.
The Santa Cruz County Water Harvesting Guidance Manual is based on the City of Tucson manual and modified in the following ways to: reflect the region's greater levels of rainfall, include water harvesting sites located in or near the County, and provide many additional references and resources related to water harvesting. Limited printed copies available from Santa Cruz County Department of Community Development. For more information regarding water harvesting and flood control in Santa Cruz County contact the Santa Cruz County Flood Control Department.
A Sonoran Institute publication that discusses water management issues and presents case studies for applying a sustainable water management framework in Arizona. Included in this publication is a discussion of rivers and streams, the role of groundwater, importance of riparian habitat, impacts of groundwater pumping, and sustainable water resources management.