The city of Scottsdale, Arizona’s city council adopted Scottsdale Ordinance 4606 prohibiting natural grass in the front yards of new single-family homes constructed or permitted after Aug. 15 at its July 10 meeting.
“The city council’s decision further establishes Scottsdale’s commitment to sustainable water management,” says Brian Biesemeyer, Scottsdale Water’s executive director. “By adopting this ordinance, Scottsdale aims to lead the way in water conservation practices, setting an example for other communities across the region.”
The ordinance is supported by 86% of its water customers, according to a survey that was sent out via customer communication to gauge public support, says Valerie Schneider, City of Scottsdale public information officer.
“We do try to do as much outreach as we can,” she says. “One of the reasons we look to implement this [ordinance] was because most of our future development already considers this type of water conservation. The northern part of Scottsdale is our newest construction area, and most of those communities, HOAs and residential properties already have a conservation thought process.”
The initiative is part of a broader package of policies aimed at reducing total water consumption across the city to support further Scottsdale’s collaboration with Colorado Basin municipal and public water providers to implement new water efficiency practices, she says.
According to Schneider, 70% of Scottsdale’s water use is outdoors, and the majority of that is used for grass. Since it operates on a tiered system, any water savings can lead to dollar savings.
“A lot of people consider that when they are developing homes, developing yards, the more grass you have, likely, the more you’re going to pay in your water bill,” she says.
In 2023, Scottsdale created a package of challenges to ask its water customers to save 5%. In the first six months of this year, city government operations led the charge, reducing water use by 9% compared to the average past three years. Residents and businesses reduced water use by 7% compared to the average past three years and 5% better than in 2022. Those results combined to save about 657 million gallons of water.
“When we all work together to save a little, the totals can be quite amazing,” says Biesemeyer.