Should Tucson serve as a water use blueprint for Minnesota?

David Stevenson shows the cisterns where he stores 5,000 gallons of rainwater he has harvested at his home in Tucson. Nick Cote for MPR News

You may have heard or read some of our coverage Tuesday on lessons Tucson, Ariz., may have for water use in Minnesota. That’s a city that has grown substantially yet kept water consumption flat through a variety of conservation and reuse measures. The city encourages greywater use and rainwater capture; it recycles treated wastewater through a “purple pipe” system to golf courses, parks, schools and homes for irrigation; it stores water it doesn’t need today in underground aquifers.

Tucson’s water use is back down to 1990 levels even though the population has grown by 40 percent. William Lager / MPR News

Today’s Question: Should Tucson serve as a water use blueprint for Minnesota?

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  • PaulJ

    Not as a blueprint, but certainly as a reference. We have to spend our conservation dollars in a way appropriate for our ecosystem not theirs.

  • Max

    Maybe in the southwestern portions of the state where they rely solely on ground water. I’m not going to go through the trouble and expense of re-plumbing my house when I live near the worlds largest supply of fresh water. I’m not even sure why MPR keeps harping on this issue. It’s certainly topical for portions of the country, just not for the majority of people who live in this state.

    • Will

      Well, when I drive by White Bear Lake, and see people’s docks nearly 50yds out past the mud, I’m reminded that there IS an issue in Minnesota with water use.

  • Mark Hayes

    Should it? Maybe. Could it? Not in a 100 years with the bureaucracy as it stands right now. There is no desire in the state agencies to change the status quo and the legislature has no expertise or desire to have that expertise in drafting a bill that would force the issue. Senator Mike Jungbauer drafted such a bill and couldn’t even get a hearing from his own party on this.

  • Jeff LeClair

    Our obstinance regarding water resources is only matched by our ignorance of water conservation practices and need. Like all good things, if we do not efficiently use our resources, we will abuse them. To think we have plenty, therefore we need not worry is troublesome indeed. We use treated water to keep our lawns green. We all need to work to keep water resource usage at the forefront of all environmental initiatives. Think we don’t have issues with water resources? Ask those who live around White Bear Lake. In ten years, all MSP area cities will have issues maintaining adequate water resources.

  • JQP

    In general and conceptually, yes. Conservation drops overall costs.
    Consider if your city didn’t have to pay for processing of potable water that gets used for watering grass. The city water plant infrastructure lasts longer and your overall tax costs (and shared water fee costs) go down.

    Regarding Tucsons solutions …
    The average low temperature in Tucson is rarely below 36 degrees and rarely for extended times. Tucson’s solutions work pretty well in that climate for the entire year … but … Minnesota residents would need to adapt them for northern climate and water regime.
    Up here we have snow melt and rain to collect in the spring/fall … but store it in a closed contain too early spring or too late fall and you are likely to have frost/freeze related damage. Also widespread storage of non-purified water may lead mosquito blooms.

    • Max

      As opposed to the cost of installing grey water reclamation systems and water cisterns in everyone’s home, or installing a parallel city water system that delivers potable and non-potable water?