Arizona home landscape

Arizona’s been in a drought for nearly 20 years. So the city of Phoenix has long worked to promote water conservation. Kathryn Sorensen is director of Phoenix Water Services.

Sorensen: “We deliver less water to our customers today than we did 20 years ago – but we serve 400,000 more people with that water.”

But as climate change makes the region even hotter and drier, water scarcity will get worse. And it will be critical for businesses and residents to conserve even more.

Sorensen says one way is to replace grassy lawns with less thirsty desert plants such as mesquite trees, desert grasses, and cacti.

Sorensen: “Native Sonoran landscaping is beautiful, it’s fantastic, it uses less water, it requires less maintenance.”

So the city’s been educating people about desert landscaping.

Sorensen: “We’ve also used pricing to signal the scarcity of water in the desert and that means that our water costs more in the summer. So if you want to have a lawn in Phoenix, you can, but it needs a lot of water in the summer and it’s going to cost you a lot of money.”

She says together, outreach and financial incentives can help build a culture of conservation for a water-scarce future.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.