- Associated Press - Monday, November 3, 2014

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - A water conservation program that offers rebates to Tucson homeowners may be expanded despite concerns from a utility company.

The Tucson City Council was expected this week to discuss the possibility of offering more rebates to homeowners who collect rainwater and irrigate their yards, the Arizona Daily Star reported (https://goo.gl/13OKGv ).

Council members Paul Cunningham, Regina Romero and Karin Uhlich say in a memo advocating the expansion that Tucson is “ground zero for climate change.” Greater use of rainwater harvesting should be a priority as temperatures rise and big rainstorms become less frequent, they said.

Officials say around 600 homeowners in the past two years have received rebates.

But Tucson Water says those in the program haven’t reduced their use of city water. The utility says in a new draft water conservation report that it doesn’t consider the rebates a success.

Though it is the least cost-effective of eight city water conservation rebate programs, Tucson Water said, the utility was not opposing expanding it.

Cunningham said Tucson Water’s methodology has problems.

“Rainwater does not flow through a meter, so the water savings can’t be measured the same way as a low-flow toilet,” he said.

The council will discuss expanding the rebates from homeowners to small businesses and people who carve curb cuts in front of their homes to draw in storm runoff from the street.

The program’s supporters say the utility ignores rainwater’s benefits, including that it’s free and requires no energy to pump it from the ground or uphill from the Colorado River.

The back-and-forth could last until June, when Tucson Water makes recommendations on whether to keep the rebates.


Information from: Arizona Daily Star, https://www.azstarnet.com

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