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water best practiceResidential Gray Water

Tucson, AZ

Residential Gray WaterPurpose

To conserve the supply of fresh water by using gray water for residential landscaping.


The policy has not yet gone into effect, but the City estimates that because 40% of the average Tucson household’s water is used outdoors, the use of gray water will save a single household 13,000 gallons of fresh drinking water per year.

Background & Summary

Recognizing that Tucson, as a desert community, faces a drastic need for water conservation in order to prevent drought conditions, the City of Tucson has passed an ordinance that makes it easy for homeowners to reuse their gray water for landscaping. Gray water is recycled water from clothes washers, bathtubs, showers, and bathroom sinks. Beginning June 1, 2010, all new construction of single-family homes and duplexes in Tucson will be required to include plumbing to distribute gray water for outdoor irrigation.

Public Support & Opposition:
A stakeholder group was created to develop the gray water policy, and included members of non-profit environmental organizations, gray water experts, builder associations, developers, realtors, and more. This group found that the costs associated with implementation of the policy were underestimated. The City will monitor for several years, and after determining true costs, will make changes as necessary.

A need was also discovered for increased plumbing code standards as applied to gray water systems. Consistency in interior plumbing design requirements would streamline the gray water installation process.

Contact for This Best Practice

Name: Fernando Molina
Job Title: Conservation Program Manager
Jurisdiction: City of Tucson, AZ
Phone: (520) 837-2185

Last updated February 1, 2011



Water Access & Efficiency

Source Water Protection

Waste Water Reduction