How are we doing?
The city of Tucson has dramatically reduced residential water usage during the past two decades. In 2010, the city of Tucson had residential water usage rates closer to the U.S. than to the state of Arizona, with 94 gallons per capita per day (GPCD). By 2015, Tucson’s water usage had dropped below the U.S. water usage rate. It has continued to decline with a 2019 average of 76 gallons per capita per day in residential water use. When compared to the 10 western states, Arizona ranked eighth during 2015 in residential water use. Arizonans used 146 GPCD in 2015, 63 more GPCD than the average for the U.S. All the western states, except Texas and New Mexico used more water per capita each day than the U.S. average. New Mexico and Texas tied for the lowest amount of residential water usage at 81 GPCD, while Idaho had the highest rate at 186 GPCD. Currently, the last year of GPCD published data for the U.S. and states is 2015.
Water is a finite resource with constant pressure on its availability, especially in the western U.S., where rapid population growth, coupled with a decade-long drought, has placed additional pressure on an already strained resource. Water is used for residential, agricultural, commercial, and industrial purposes, but our focus is on the residential sector. In 2010 the United States Geological Survey reported that an estimated 268 million people relied on public-supply water for their household use. This represents about 86% of the total U.S. population.
How do we compare?
When comparing residential water use in the U.S., state of Arizona, and city of Tucson during 2015, Tucson fell slightly below the U.S. at 80 gallons per capita per day, while the U.S. average was 83 and the state of Arizona was substantially higher at 146 GPCD. The western states tend to have higher rates of water usage due to their hot and dry climate.
What are the key trends?
The city of Tucson posted a substantial decrease in residential water use, from a high of 121 gallons per capita per day in 1996, to only 76 GPCD in 2019. This is a reduction of 45 GPCD, or 37.2%, over 23 years. The city of Tucson has been proactive in encouraging water conservation by offering a wide range of rebates and incentive programs to residential and commercial customers. Arizona’s residential water use has remained relatively constant between 1985 and 2015 with only slight fluctuations. The U.S. reported a modest decrease of 22 GPCD in residential water use during this same period, which was a 21.0% decline.
The U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) National Water-Use Information Program compiles and publishes water-use data. The USGS works in cooperation with local, state, and federal environmental agencies to collect water-use information. The USGS typically reports water usage data for the U.S, states, and counties every five years. Tucson Water provides current and historic water data for its service area.