Today we’re honoring World Water Day across the globe to bring attention to our most pressing water issues. World Water Day provides us a great opportunity to think globally while acting locally and looking at our water use through a critical lens. Western and international communities are watching Tucson as an innovative community modeling solutions in a time of widespread drought and increasing water scarcity due to climate change.
This year’s World Water Day theme is wastewater, an area in which we in Tucson excel. Tucson Water offers a residential greywater rebate (up to $1,000); the Pima County Smartscape Program and Watershed Management Group teach free classes on how to design and install greywater systems; and our reclaimed water system irrigates parks, green infrastructure, and golf courses throughout the city and county. High fives all around!
But before we get too boastful, Tucson is a far cry from having a sustainable water management system. And where we really fall short – is living within our local means while preserving the watershed that sustains us.
A staggering 85 percent of Tucson’s water supply comes from the distant Colorado River, and is transported with energy from a dirty coal-burning power generation plant on the Navajo reservation. Forty percent of the City of Tucson’s electricity demand is for transporting and treating water. Not only have we wreaked havoc on Tucson’s rivers, since the late 1990s we’ve helped diminish the mighty Colorado River by diverting water that reduces the river’s flow. With all the diversions from western cities, the Colorado River stopped reaching the sea in 1988. The once lush and large Colorado River Delta is now a barren dustbowl.
That is why we are launching our Rain to Table campaign on World Water Day: to help turn the tide and help more people access local, renewable water. Our goal is to get 500 people to join between World Water Day (March 22) and Earth Day (April 22) and take real action to harvest local water. This campaign is a collaborative effort of Edible Baja Arizona, Watershed Management Group (WMG), and the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, and we want you to join!
With one simple act, we can change our water supply and make it local, renewable, and part of a sustainable system that enhances our groundwater and rivers. It’s called rainwater harvesting, and it’s the simple act of collecting the rain that falls on site to use as water supply. We want to help you learn the techniques of water harvesting to grow native and edible gardens, hence creating a rain to table movement that’s as vibrant as our farm to table movement.
If you’ve heard about rainwater harvesting, maybe a big tank pops into your mind. Yes, collecting rainwater in a tank is one way to go. But there are many more basic and inexpensive steps you can take. First, you can start by creating a local water budget. Then, you can install a rain garden with organic mulch and native plants. After that, tap into greywater for irrigating fruit trees. And finally, consider installing tanks to grow food and/or meet indoor water demands.
In honor of World Water Day, you can join our Rain to Table campaign today. Answer a few questions about your household, and we’ll calculate a local water budget for your home. This is a great starting point to plan your future water harvesting actions. Help generate excitement by posting your rainwater harvesting efforts on Facebook, Instagram, and twitter with the hashtag #raintotable for the chance to win a free home consultation from Watershed Management Group ($175 value). Thank you for honoring World Water Day in a very local way!