What Can I Do to Save Water?

Pro tips to help you conserve Arizona’s most precious resource.
A hummingbird with a bright pink head sits in a bush of yellow flowers.
Anna's Hummingbird on California Cleome. Photo: Michael Renzi/Great Backyard Bird Count

**Este artículo se puede encontrar en español**

Water has always been a key issue in Arizona. And while we often talk about water conservation at the policy level or the Colorado River Basin scale, we also know each of us has a role to play in using water wisely in our daily lives.

Beyond turning off the water when you brush your teeth, here are five ways you can conserve:

  1. Fix Household Leaks: If your toilet is running, catch it! A leaking toilet can waste more than 6,000 gallons of water a month. Check out the Smart Home Water Guide for a step-by-step checklist to walk you through finding and fixing some of the most common leaks inside your home and out in your yard.
  2. Right Plant, Right Place: In the desert southwest, much of our water use occurs outside. You can lower your outdoor water consumption with native plants and a drought-tolerant landscape, whether you are designing from scratch or making smaller updates to your space.

    Tools like Plants for the Arizona Desert take the guesswork out of selecting beautiful, desert-adapted plants (plus, the pictures are gorgeous). Audubon’s own database, Plants for Birds, allows you to explore native plants to attract birds in your area. Maybe you’ll spot a Northern Mockingbird or a Mourning Dove in your yard! The helpful folks at your local nursery and your county’s master gardeners can also help.

    When it comes to planting, check out free, local workshops for insider tips and tricks, or hire a trained landscape professional to set your landscape up for success.

    Don’t forget! Your water provider may offer financial incentives for low-water-use landscape projects. Be sure to check with your local conservation office before you begin your project.   
  3. Control Your Irrigation Controller: An irrigation controller is only as smart as you make it. Plant watering needs vary throughout the year, so controllers should be adjusted accordingly. If you are in the Phoenix area, text WHENTOWATER to 33222 to receive monthly text reminders with the upcoming watering schedule. You might be surprised to learn that even the thirstiest plants (like grass) should be watered no more than twice a week, even during the hottest months of the year.

    Want to dig deeper into proper watering? Check out Water—Use It Wisely’s interactive landscape watering guides.
  4. Optimize Your Water Use: We often hear, “how much water should I be using?” The answer depends on varying factors—the age of your home, number of occupants, etc. To estimate your unique monthly water budget, complete the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association  Water Use Calculator. Once you know how much water you should be using, you can make informed changes to lower your water footprint.
  5. Get Paid to Save: Did you know that water providers across the state offer financial incentives (bill credits or rebates) to install water-saving technologies and to swap older, inefficient fixtures for WaterSense® or ENERGY STAR®  certified models? Whether you are upgrading your toilet in Sierra Vista, washing machine in Prescott, or installing an irrigation rain sensor in Goodyear, there are a variety of resources that may be available to you. Once you make the upgrade, you will effortlessly save water with every use.

    Water and energy are intertwined. Its takes water to make electricity and electricity to deliver clean water, so it’s important to conserve both. Electric providers, including APS, SRP, and TEP, offer rebates for smart thermostats, AC upgrades, and even quicker updates like light bulbs.

Bonus Tip! Join our Western Rivers Action Network: We will keep you updated on all things water policy, and we will call on you to use your voice when it will have the greatest impact with your elected officials. At the National Audubon Society, we are constantly tracking the various arenas where water policy and water management are discussed, and we keep you up to speed and in the know with articles, webinars, plus other opportunities to learn more about these complex but critical water management decisions, and how they affect birds.