Home Owners’ Associations and Multifamily Residences
Scottsdale Water offers a variety of ways to reduce your water use: water-use budgets, rebates, and tips for overall water efficiency. Each Homeowners Association (HOA) and multifamily property is unique. Landscape type (desert-adapted vs. large grassy areas), occupancy rate and age of buildings and irrigation systems are a few factors that may determine “normal” water use.
Scottsdale Water recommends you monitor your water use. If your monthly water use is higher than expected or there is a spike in usage, our easy-to-use leak guide Find & Fix Leaks that are Draining your Budget can help you check your property for signs of excess water use. If no outside water use performance issues are noted, ask residents to check for indoor leaks (if interior water use is included on your bill).
Outdoor Water Use Tips
The lifespan of an irrigation system is 10-25 years and is dependent on the original quality of design and equipment, construction, and maintenance practices. Irrigation efficiency decreases as the system ages.
- Consider turf removal
- Forgo winter lawns and give Bermuda grass the rest it needs. Learn about the benefits.
- Conduct regular property leak checks. Walk the property every two weeks, both when the irrigation system is and is not running and report visible leaks to the designated person.
- Set aside money in the reserve account for the eventual replacement of the irrigation system. The lifespan of irrigations systems varies a great deal. Talk to your landscaper to determine the condition of your irrigation system, determine what changes would occur during renovation, and then determine reserve account needs.
- Refer to the Landscape Watering by the Numbers guide to learn how to identify plants that are being improperly watered and determine their optimum watering needs.
- Attend free landscape workshops to find out how to design a desert-adapted landscape that requires minimal care.
- Choose desert-adapted low-water-use plants that are drought tolerant and more likely to survive during the hot summer months. Review our free landscape publications.
Pool evaporation rates are dependent on sunlight intensity, air and water temperature, wind, humidity and shading. A 400 ft2 pool will lose approximately 19,665 gallons of water per year to evaporation.
Most leaks associated with the pool can be found in the pool equipment. Look and listen for water leaks around the pool and pool equipment every two weeks. Look for white crusty mineral deposits on the equipment as this may indicate a slow leak. Also, look for wet spots on the ground around the pool, pool equipment and between the equipment and the pool.
- Consider doing a bucket test during a “non-swim” time when you can turn off the pool’s water supply to discover non-visible leaks.
- Pools with properly maintained chemical levels seldom require draining.
- If you must refill your pool, read your water meter before and after filling. The difference between these reads is the gallons used and can be multiplied by current water rates to calculate the cost of water used.
Note: The HOA’s water use in December, January and February determines the sewer fees for the next year.
- Only backwash when needed and run just long enough for the water to clear.
- Minimize “splash out” by not overfilling the pool.
Indoor Water Use Tips
Occupancy rate is the most important factor when determining indoor water use. Scottsdale’s multifamily occupancy average is 1.5 people per unit. Indoor water use per person is typically stable (assuming no leaks) and averages 58 gallons per person per day, or 89 gallons per unit per day. The highest indoor water-using devices are toilets, showerheads and clothes washers.
- Plumbing Fixtures: Toilets and Showerheads: Toilet leaks are the most common indoor leak. Homes built prior to 1980 have 5 to 7 gallons per flush toilets, while homes built between the 1980s and 1992 installed 3.5 gallons per flush toilets. Newer toilets can use as little as 1.3 or less gallons per flush. Scottsdale Water offers rebates for toilets and showerheads installed in pre-1992 structures.
- Clothes Washers: Average water use for Scottsdale’s single-family residential properties was 39 gallons per wash in 1999 which was reduced to an average of 19 gallons per wash in 2012.
Indoor Water Use Recommendations
- Check for toilet leaks annually. How to test your toilet: Put food coloring in the toilet tank and wait 15 minutes without flushing. If color appears in the bowl, there is a leak. Adjust or replace the flush valve and flapper as necessary.
- Take advantage of plumbing rebates.
- Purchase WaterSense labeled toilets and appliances.
- Turn off automatic water-using appliances when out-of-town (verify with the manufacturer that no harm will occur) such as automatic hot water recirculation pumps, water treatment pumps (reverse osmosis) and water softening units (use bypass valve).
Rebate programs encourage the installation of water-efficient plumbing fixtures and low-water-use landscapes. Currently the city offers five water conservation rebates. To qualify for a rebate the applicant must comply with the procedures in the most current rebate application form available from Scottsdale Water’s Conservation Office.
Workshops, Training and Certification
- Attend Scottsdale Water’s landscape workshops during the spring and fall. Workshops such as Program Your Irrigation Controller; Maximize Landscape Watering Efficiency; Irrigation Maintenance, Troubleshooting & Repair and Plant Care will enhance your ability to monitor water use in the landscape.
- Consider hiring landscapers who have completed Smartscape training. HOA board members, property managers and landscape committee members are encouraged to complete the training course.
- Consider hiring Certified Sustainable Landscape Management Professionals and/or Arizona Certified Landscape Professionals. Visit the Arizona Landscape Contractors Association for more information.