Record Rainfall Doesn’t Mean Reducing Water Conservation Efforts
Water has been the big topic throughout Arizona and at Rosie on the House over the past few weeks. We have had an abundance of much-needed rain.
Arizona Department of Water Resources (AMWR) reported on July 21, 2021 “The near-historic lack of monsoon moisture in 2020 contributed substantially to the extraordinarily low rate of runoff into the Colorado River system this spring. A lack of spring rain helped dry out soils to such an extent that those thirsty soils soaked up far more watershed runoff than normal this spring.”
Our state broke quite a few rainfall records this year. AZWR reported the monsoon 2021 rainfall measured at Tucson International Airport set one of several records this season with 5.88 inches of rain through July 25. And the monsoon season is not over.
At Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, National Weather Service officials reported 1.67 inches for the month as of July 25, making 2021 the wettest July since 2013 and the 17th wettest on record. Overall, the Phoenix Rainfall Index for July 2021 (that is, the average of all the official rain gauges throughout the Valley), stood at 2.66 inches, making July 2021 the wettest month overall in the Valley since October 2018.
In other parts of Arizona, US News & World Report reported on August 3, 2021, that in July, Show Low had 8.79 inches of rain although the city usually averages 2.35 inches in July, meteorologists with the National Weather Service in Flagstaff said.
Payson recorded 6.98 inches of rainfall last month, exceeding its July average of 2.81 inches, officials said. St. Johns had 4 inches of rainfall last month compared to its usual July average of 1.41 inches.
Meteorologists also reported last month that Walnut Canyon National Monument had 8.67 inches of rainfall, topping its usual average of 2.55 inches for July. Meanwhile, Tuzigoot National Monument near Clarkdale had 6.14 inches of rainfall compared to its usual average of 1.64 inches.
Don’t think we can leave the dust behind. Just because much of Arizona received record rainfall to date, doesn’t mean that we are flush with water. We still need to conserve what we have.
AMWR anticipates a Tier 1 Colorado River Shortage in 2022 will be declared next week (August 22, 2021) with the release of the United States Bureau of Reclamation (BOR)’s August 24-Month study.
Tier 1 Colorado River Shortage
The Colorado River supplies water to Arizona, six other western states, and Mexico. Each has a specified amount of water that they are entitled to use every year. When the elevation of Lake Mead is projected in August to fall to 1,075 feet or lower by the end of the current year, the federal government is to declare a Tier 1 Shortage beginning in January. This shortage is a reduction in the amount of water that can be used from the Colorado River and is part of a broader plan to protect the overall health of the Colorado River system.
In 2022, the Colorado River is expected to experience a Tier 1 Shortage, which means that Arizona, Nevada, and Mexico have all agreed to take less water from the river for the year.
Learn more about the Tier 1 Shortage here.
Rosie on the House has compiled a variety of our water facts and conservation tips to guide you through understating where our water comes from, how it is used, and how you can do your part to conserve it.
Where Arizona’s Water Comes From
We have many resources from which we get our water. According to ADWR, our water comes from:
- Groundwater = 41%
- The Colorado River = 36%
- In-state rivers = 18% (particularly the Salt, Verde, Gila, and Agua Fria Rivers)
- Reclaimed Water = 5%
From these resources, water goes through a complex natural cycle called the Hydrologic Cycle, which results in where water is found and in what form. The cycle looks like this: Evaporation -> Condensation -> Precipitation -> Collection.
Water is never lost in the cycle. It can change locations, altitude, and material forms, and we can mismanage it when it's in freshwater form. But it is a closed cycle, meaning no water is gained or lost during the process. Read more about Arizona’s historic and current water usage.
General Water Facts
1 acre-foot of water contains 325,851 gallons. According to Water - Use It Wisely, as of August 2019, the average individual in Arizona uses 120 gallons of water per day. The number of people living in your house will determine how long that acre-foot will last for:
- 1 Person Home - 2,715 days or just under 7.5 years
- 2 Person Home - 1,357 days or just 3.7 years
- 3 Person Home - 905 days or 2.47 years
- 4 Person Home - 678 days or 1.8 years
- 5 Person Home - 543 days or 1.48 years
Read more water conservation facts here.
Appliances & Fixtures
One of the biggest water wasters in our homes is the toilet. Standard toilets or those installed before 1992 can use as much as seven gallons of water per flush. Replace them with low-flow or dual-flush toilets which use only 1.6 gallons. If you are not ready to replace them, you might consider going with the "three pees per flush" or “if it’s yellow, let it mellow” rules. If a toilet is making sounds when it is not in use, or the flapper is leaking into the bowl, you have a leak. Fix it.
Other appliance and fixtures tips you can take now that will result in real water savings:
- Fix leaky faucets. They can waste up to 600 gallons of water per month.
- Replace your old, top-loading washing machine with a front-loader. They wash clothes just as well and use 18 fewer gallons of water per load.
- Update your showerheads. The average showerhead will churn through roughly 2.1 gallons per minute. Low flow heads use between 2.0 and 1.5 gallons per minute. The EPA’s WaterSense Program lists many low-flow showerheads on the market.
- Dishwashers and washing machines are much more water and energy-efficient than ever. Look for appliances with the Energy Star and WaterSense labels.
- When doing laundry, match the water level to the size of the load.
As much as you may miss the grass lawns of your home state, they are not an ideal landscape in Arizona. If you need a lawn as a play area for your kids and pets, make it a small one.
Invest in a “smart” irrigation system for your yard. The latest lawn-and-garden irrigators are programmed to shut off the water when it rains and adjust the amount of water they deliver based on the temperature and how much your plants need on any given day. Click here for irrigation tips.
Trade your moisture-loving plants, flowers, and trees for native varieties that tolerate drought. The water we use outdoors accounts for almost 70 percent of the water we use. Water - Use It Wisely offers these Top 10 tips for water-wise landscaping.
Many beautiful low-water-use plants grow well in our desert -- shrubs, flowers, trees, vines, and groundcover. Desert flora doesn't require much water to thrive and adds a variety of colors, sizes, functions, and yes, even lush greenery to your landscaping.
There are hundreds of heat and drought-resistant species native to our southwest deserts or from arid climates around the world. Click here for suggestions.
In Arizona, a standard (16 ft. X 36 ft.) uncovered pool loses four to six feet per year to evaporation, most of which occurs during the summer. Added to the water lost during refilling and backwashing, that's roughly the equivalent of filling the pool every year. Draining a pool doubles this amount. Rather than draining your pool and refilling it with a hose, recycle your pool water.
Recycling pool water allows you to retain roughly 70% percent of your existing pool water while being a good steward of water resources. Read more about pool water-saving tips and technologies here.
Keep all equipment in good working order. Evaporation is normal. If you think your pool or spa is losing more water than normal, try this simple bucket test. It will indicate how fast the pool or spa is losing water.
A different perspective on water conservation. Water is a finite source but infinitely renewable. We only see it at the point of use. We discuss how you should 'think outside the box'. Water is used for creating products from electricity to plastics. In some cases more water to make one product! And with the recent record rainfall, it doesn't mean reducing conservation efforts.
Print this page