Water Conservation

In the arid southwest, water conservation is of utmost importance. Potable water is a finite resource in the desert and the high desert of the Colorado Plateau. Northern Arizona has an arid climate with limited water resources. The depletion of groundwater is an especially critical issue. Of all the resources we use, water is one we truly cannot live without. Therefore, we encourage County residents to incorporate water saving measures as much as possible. 

Water Conservation Tips


  • Plant native species - they are more adapted to the County’s nutrient deficient, drought tolerant climate 
  • Turf removal: Lawns typically are grown from water loving species, such as Kentucky Bluegrass, which have not adapted to the County’s arid climate. The City of Flagstaff offers rebates to residents for removing lawns. To be eligible for a rebate:
    • You must remove at least 1,500 square feet of turf and replace it with low water-use plants. 
    • 2 to 4 inches of bark or shredded wood mulch must be in place around the base of the new plants to retain moisture. 
    • You must place a breathable landscape fabric under the modified area for weed control. No rebate will be issued until this is verified. 
    • You must use only drip irrigation in the treated area— no spray sprinkler heads. 
    • Your property cannot include ponds or fountains, even outside the turf removal area. 
    • Low-water-use plants (there are drought tolerant grasses that look just like a lawn) must be within the boundary of the area where the turf was removed. Plants outside the modified area are not considered part of the project.
  • Let your grass go dormant - only needs to be watered every 1-3 weeks depending precipitation 
  • Group plantings according to watering needs; put water loving plants in a depressed area, irrigate all the water intensive plants on the same cycle (also makes irrigating easier to manage)  
  • Mulch and use groundcover plant species; using mulch or groundcover plants helps conserve water and prevents the top soil layer from drying out excessively 
  • Plant during the rainy season; plants need more water during their initial root establishment, so make it easier for you and your water bill by planting during monsoons if you can  
  • Create swales and berms; they help prevent water runoff or soil erosion

Irrigation Methods  

  • Use a rain sensor, then you won’t be overwatering your plants 
  • Keep your irrigation on a timer - Water deeply and slowly; plants need a deep watering to encourage vertical root growth; the deeper soil layers will also retain water better 
  • Water only as needed, not only for conservation, but to not stress your plants 
  • Use passive rainwater collection; use natural or artificial depressions in the land to direct water flow, could be directed from a downspout on a building 
  • Avoid fountain fixtures; even though they are pretty, they are wasteful 
  • Irrigate in the morning or evening, not in the afternoon; the afternoon sun will more easily dry out the area you are irrigating 


  • Protect your pipes from freezing: disconnect hoses, place insulated covers on outdoor faucets, keep your garage door closed (especially at night), and prioritize piping insulation in cooler areas of your home

Low flow fixtures

  • Use WaterSense labeled products, they are 20% more water efficient and perform as well as or better than standard models Water 3 
  • Toilets manufactured before 1994 use 3.5 to 7 gallons of water per flush. New WaterSense models use as little as 1.28 gallons per flush. The City of Flagstaff also offers rebates on toilet replacement, to qualify: 
    • Single-flush toilets must use 1.28 gallons or less per flush; dual-flush toilets can use 1.0/1.1 to 1.6 gallons per flush. 
    • All devices must be EPA WaterSense® labeled. 
    • Waterless urinals are eligible. 
    • Toilets must have been purchased on or after June 1, 2016. 
    • You must be replacing an existing device; only homes built before 2009 (as noted in the Coconino County Assessor’s parcel database) are eligible since the City code required HETs after that date. Commercial sites built before 2011 are also eligible. 
    • You must be a metered City of Flagstaff water customer. 
    • Residential sites can be credited for up to two HETs; commercial sites can be credited for up to four HETs 

Lifestyle and habits 

  • Take shorter showers 
  • Use greywater; greywater is the used water from baths, showers, wash basins, clothes washing machines, and hand wash sinks. To find more about greywater applications and Coconino County guidelines, check our Residential Gray Water Permitting brochure 
  • Composting toilets; a dry toilet that uses aerobic processes to decompose excreta. To find more about state and local regulations, visit this Arizona Department of Environmental Quality document
  • Turn off the water when not using it 
  • Fill the dishwasher; make the most out of the gallons used by a dishwasher by filling it 

Rainwater Harvesting Resources

Gray Water Resources:

Other Resources

City of Flagstaff Water Conservation

City of Williams Water and Wastewater

Arizona Water Facts

Ft Tuthill County Park Sustainable Water Management Plan

Coconino County's Ft. Tuthill Park is a 633-acre park located three miles south of Flagstaff. The park hosts numerous events throughout the year including the County Fair, equestrian events, concerts and music festivals in the summer months and snow play, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing during the winter months. 

The Ft Tuthill County Park Water Advisory Committee was formed in 2018 to provide County staff with direction and feedback on the development of a comprehensive Sustainable Water Management Plan that consists of strategies, resources, and costs for the reduction of potable water consumption at Ft. Tuthill County Park. 

Click here to read a copy of the plan. Click here to read the Water Advisory Committee update.

County Water Savings

Responsible water use in services and operations is a priority to Coconino County. As an active member of a northern Arizona regional water partnership called the Coconino Plateau Water Advisory Council (CPWAC) that includes Watershed Partnership branch, the County is committed to supporting the CPWAC's Water Ethic, "Water is Life. As individuals and as a community, we take responsibility for our region's water. We value water for its social, cultural, and environmental roles. We have an obligation to manage water and use it in a purposeful manner, recognizing our choices and their consequence." 

The County has taken several measures to reduce water consumption by retrofitting County owned facilities with more efficient water systems, waterless urinals, reducing irrigation, quickly identifying and repairing leaks, and builder user awareness. The collective impact of these efforts over a ten-year time period between 2008-2018 is a water savings of approximately 10,020,847 gallons or $182,804 in savings. This much could fill 15 Olympic-sized swimming pools.  

Swimming pools

Parched Documentary