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Water Management

Tucson AMA: Conservation


Conservation Regulations

Within the Tucson AMA, each water use sector must meet mandatory conservation requirements. The general provisions are defined in Arizona statute, while the specific program requirements are included in the 10-year management plans that are developed for each AMA as part of an extensive public process.

Faucet aerator installation

For the municipal sector, undesignated water companies must join the Modified Non per Capita Conservation Program (Modified NPCCP), or if remaining in the GPCD program (designated providers only) providers must meet per capita use targets or implement a series of stringent conservation practices. There are also requirements to minimize system losses and incentives to use non-groundwater supplies. The AMA's largest providers, by population, are Tucson Water, Metro Water, Oro Valley, Community Water of Green Valley, and Flowing Wells Irrigation District.

For the industrial sector, the conservation requirements are tailored to the particular use, and include both volume-based allotments as well as best management practices. Regulated industrial facilities within the Tucson AMA include:

  • 115 turf facilities, 42 of which are golf courses
  •    3 large metal mines
  •   22 large sand & gravel operations

Agricultural users must manage water use within an allotment based on historic cropping patterns, or comply with best management practices. There is also a prohibition on irrigating new land within AMAs. There are more than 400 Irrigation Grandfathered rights in the Tucson AMA, covering 37,000 eligible acres, with 160,000 acre-feet of associated water allotments. More than half of all rights are less than 10 acres.

As of : 1/09

Assistance Program

Conservation booth at Earth Day

The Tucson AMA supports non-regulatory conservation primarily through its Water Management Assistance Program. This program is funded through a portion of the groundwater withdrawal fees paid annually by persons withdrawing groundwater from regulated wells in the AMA. This funding, (up to $0.50/acre-foot), has been used to support a Conservation Specialist position within the AMA, as well as conservation project funding, planning assistance, technical support, community outreach and education efforts.


Tucson Low-Water-Use/Drought Tolerant Plant lists


Xeriscape Contest

Examples of low water use landscapes



The contest includes categories for:

Special Awards
Community Xeriscape Leader

For information, rules, entry forms and prizes, or to nominate a Community Xeriscape Leader visit: or call

(520) 880-3010.






The Annual Tucson Xeriscape Contest is designed to recognize and showcase homeowners who have implemented Xeriscape principles and used native plants in their landscapes and to increase awareness of innovations in landscaping and water-use efficiency (there is a separate category for entries professionally designed and installed).

Landscapes must have been substantially designed, installed and maintained by a homeowner. These may include single-family, condominium, town house, or manufactured home residences. Landscapes must be at least two years old, or have a mature look. Judges will consider all elements of water efficient Xeriscape design.

Xeriscape Guidelines for Residential Entries:

  • Water conserving design with all turf, water intensive plants, pools and water features located in the 
    Oasis zone.
  • Plant selection including Sonoran and/or Chihuahuan desert native plants as part of the total of low-
    water, drought tolerant and non-invasive plants
  • All plants should be zoned by water use and irrigated accordingly, preferably with trees on a separate 
    valve from shrubs and groundcovers and low-water-use trees on a separate valve from high-water-use
  • Irrigation must be efficient and based on plant types, soil types, seasonal water requirements,
    microclimates and other unique site conditions
  • Incorporation of rainwater harvesting and/or gray water reuse for irrigation
  • Use of mulch and/or soil improvement to retain moisture and reduce evaporation
  • Demonstration of proper maintenance practices





Eligibility: Any Xeriscape landscape in the greater Tucson area installed a minimum of 2 years, or has attained a mature look by using salvaged plants or larger nursery stock.

The following guidelines, based on the seven principles of Xeriscape, provide the criteria for judging the entered landscape in the Xeriscape Contest.

Xeriscape Guidelines for Professional Entries:

  • Water conserving design with an Oasis no more than 30% of total area landscaped (oasis includes surface areas of water features e.g. pools, fountains, ponds, etc.)
  • Turf, other water intensive plants, pools and water features should be located in the oasis zone
  • Plant selection should include a minimum of 25% Sonoran and/or Chihuahuan desert plants as total of low-water, drought tolerant and non-invasive plants
  • All plants should be zoned by water use and irrigated accordingly (e.g., trees on a separate valve from 
    shrubs and groundcovers; low-water-use trees on a separate valve from high-water-use trees, etc.)
  • Irrigation must be efficient and based on plant water use requirements, seasonal water needs, soil type, 
    microclimates and other unique site conditions
  • Incorporation of rainwater and/or gray water harvesting
  • Use of mulch and/or soil improvements to retain moisture and reduce evaporation
  • Demonstration of proper maintenance schedules and practices


Special Awards:

The J.D. Di Meglio Artistry In Landscaping Award celebrates the unique beauty of desert landscaping. J.D. DiMeglio (1960—2001) made a lasting contribution to the community by sharing his knowledge of plants, irrigation and design with a contagious smile and incredible enthusiasm. He inspired everyone he met to embrace the beauty of the Sonoran Desert, and to appreciate the natural artistry in the native landscape. His company, “Horizons West Landscaping”, specialized in mixing native and traditional plants, and he left Tucson with a living legacy through his many private gardens and public landscapes.

The “J.D. Di Meglio Artistry in Landscaping Award” honors J.D.'s memory, and is given at the

Judges discretion and may be given to either a Homeowner or Professional entry.


Community Xeriscape Leaders

In addition to the Homeowner and Professional categories, the Xeriscape Contest has an award that recognizes individuals and organizations for their contributions to the community, and a special award for landscape artistry.

The Community Xeriscape Leader Award recognizes an individual or organization that has been a driving force in promoting Xeriscape principles and/or the use of native and arid-adapted plants.


  • Do you know someone who is an advocate for the use of Xeriscaping principles? 
  • Is there an organization or person you would like to honor for their dedication and diligence to promotion of native and arid-adapted plants?
  • Do you know someone who has made a significant difference to the Tucson community by promoting water harvesting or irrigation efficiency


If so, then please nominate them by completing the Community Xeriscape Leader Award nomination form at or call (520) 880-3010.

Awards, photos and articles from previous years:

"Drop Your Water Use!"

Drop Your Water Use

Drop Your Water Use Poster



is a program intended to educate retail nursery customers on how to plan and maintain a healthy and water efficient landscape. The program is a voluntary collaboration between ADWR Tucson AMA and local nurseries that uses a simple water drop system to identify plants with similar water requirements. All of the labeled plants are Xeriscape plants currently on the Tucson Low Water Use/Drought Tolerant plant list. Plants are labeled one through three, distinguished with corresponding water drops and numbers. A "number one" indicates very low water use-mostly native plants, two is low water use and three is moderate water use.

By choosing plants with the same number, a gardener can more successfully group plants by water needs. Although the plants are all low-water-using, the frequency that they need to be irrigated varies from approximately once a week to once a month after the plants are established. ADWR encourages consumers to use separate valves on their irrigation system to water each zone, enabling them to manage their irrigation water use more efficiently.


ADWR's Statewide Conservation Program

The Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) would like to encourage everyone in Arizona to conserve water. Residential, commercial, industrial, governmental, and institutional users all must help conserve.


Conservation Materials

Test your knowledge of water and water conservation using Tucson AMA "Water Catchers"

Great education for the public, teachers and kids: 

Girl folding paper (from MS Clip Art)

Additional Resources:

Reading your water meter acrobat icon (33.1 KB)

Gray Water and Rainwater Harvesting

Arizona Tax Credits -Technical correction (HB 2103) was passed and becomes law effective September 26, 2008

Language was clarified in A.R.S. §43-1090.01-K Specifies that A.R.S. §43-1090.01 as amended by this act, applies retroactively to taxable years beginning from and after December 31, 2006

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