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Frequently Asked Questions: Homeowners Association's Water Use

 Get your questions on water conservation for HOAs answered here:

Q. Is our HOA eligible for rebates?
A. Yes, qualifying HOAs are can apply for the Turf Removal Rebate for Commercial & Residential Common Areas, the Irrigation Controller Rebate, and plumbing rebates on toilets and showerheads. The rebate is a credit on the water bill. Back to top

Q. I live in an HOA and own my property. Which rebates can I apply for?
A. If you have property that is not part of the commons, you may qualify for the Residential Turf Removal Rebate, Irrigation Controller Rebate, and the plumbing rebates. The plumbing rebates include the hot water recirculation system, toilets, and showerheads. Each rebate is a credit on the water bill. If the HOA pays the water bill, please write the name and phone number of the person who pays the water bill on the application. The person who pays the water bill will be notified of your rebate by Scottsdale after the application is approved. Once the credit appears on the water bill, the credit can be refunded to the resident. Back to top
Q. What is an HOA's biggest use of water?
Typically, the biggest water use is for the landscape. It is important to note that irrigation systems lose efficiency as they age. The life span of an irrigation system is around 20 years, so if you have an aged or inefficient system, it may be time for an update. Most landscapers tend to apply more water to make up for weaknesses in an aging system. Back to top

Q. I want to reduce water use by removing or reducing grass. What approach should I take to get other community members to agree? 
 Realizing that this can be a controversial issue in the HOA community, there are several approaches you may wish to consider. First, talk to your neighbors to find out what they think about the idea of removing or reducing grass areas. To garner support, provide information on how much water and money will be saved. Once you have support, you can approach the HOA board. Second, consider joining or assembling a landscaping committee within your HOA to work through landscaping questions. Remember, you can emphasize that not all grass has to be removed. Keeping grass in areas where people congregate or play sports is an appropriate use of grass. Consider removing grass if the only person who walks on it is the person who mows it. Back to top

Q. How much water and money will be saved by removing turf?
Water is only one monetary element when determining how much money will be saved by removing grass. Xeriscape costs less to maintain than grass, so savings will be ongoing. You may also save on costs associated with winter overseeding (purchasing seed, scalping grass, and increasing water use for seed germination). An Overwatering causing structural damageadded benefit may be a reduction in water damage to structures and pavement from sprinkler overspray. It is estimated that for every 10,000 square feet of turf removed and replaced by Xeriscape, you can save approximately 254,000 gallons of water each year. If your water meter has sewer fees associated with it, these fees will be reduced as well. See Water Rates & Fees and Wastewater (Sewer) Adjustment Form.  Back to top
Q. Once we have removed the grass, how do we decide on replacement plants?
We encourage HOAs to use the Arizona-friendly Landscape Plants for the Arizona Desert booklet to help determine a plant palette. Please note that some HOAs already have a designated plant list that must be used. If the HOA’s plant list is outdated, this may be a good time to revise the CC&R’s plant palette and add some of the new low-water plant introductions now available at nurseries. Use the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) low-water-use plant list  as a guide when revising your HOA's plant list. All of the plants in the Landscape Plants for the Arizona Desert brochure are included in ADWR's list. Back to top

Q. What are the benefits of not overseeding with winter Ryegrass?
More HOAs are questioning the wisdom of overseeding for a temporary winter lawn. Read here for many good reasons for not overseeding with winter Ryegrass, including monetary savings, healthier summer grass, and environmental stewardship. Back to top

Q. Why is our landscape water use steadily going up when we haven't changed anything?
Irrigation systems have a life span of approximately 20 years, and as they age they become less efficient. Keeping the system in good repair will help keep its inefficiencies to a minimum. Water use should be tracked by a responsible party who has a vested interest in keeping the water use/cost down. If there is a spike in water use, the cause should be identified. For example, you would expect a spike in water use during October if overseeding occurred, but you would expect the spike to have ended by December. You would also want to compare last year’s seasonal water use pattern to this year’s seasonal water use pattern. Board members or their designee can request graphs showing the HOA’s seasonal water use patterns by contacting the Water Conservation Office. The ideal seasonal water use pattern should follow the seasonal weather pattern. This means your landscaper should be changing your irrigation clocks regularly to match the weather. An example of the seasonal water use pattern can be found in the free brochure, Landscape Watering by the Numbers. Back to top

Q. What steps should my landscaper take so that water is used wisely?
As part of routine maintenance your landscaper should turn on the irrigation system and walk the property looking for disrepair. You can help your landscaper by identifying problems with mini audits. Have a designated person who can relay the problems found by residents to the landscaper. Also, let your landscaper know about landscape certification courses such as SmartScape or suggest that they attend the City of Scottsdale’s irrigation workshops. It is also helpful for the HOA members working on landscape issues to attend the workshops. We recommend that all concerned persons read the booklet Landscape Watering by the Numbers because knowing how long and how much to water is critical to managing water use. Back to top

Q. What is a landscape water-use budget?
If the city is provided with how many acres of turf and Xeriscape the HOA property maintains, a landscape budget can be made. For properties where domestic use is not separated from landscape use, the HOA would need to provide information on number of units, average number of residents per unit, and number and size of pools and spas, etc. Please contact the Water Conservation Office if you would like to work on having a budget prepared. Back to top

Q. How else can I encourage residents to reduce water use?
Contact your Water Conservation Office for samples of written materials to use in the HOA’s newsletters on topics such as indoor and outdoor tips, rebates, and landscape workshops. Back to top 


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