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City of Sierra Vista, City Hall Turf Replacement

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City of Sierra Vista, City Hall Turf Replacement

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Bisbee Toilet Replacement Project

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Fry Fire Rainwater Harvesting Project

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Cochise College Rainwater Harvesting Project

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Life Care Center Turf Replacement Projectr

By Amanda Baillie

They say it takes a village to raise a child, but it takes an entire community to save a precious resource.
And thanks to the endeavor of a local non-profit, the greater Sierra Vista area is continuing to build momentum in ongoing efforts to preserve water.
Projects carried out in the last 12 months alone will save an estimated 158 million gallons annually.
In just a few short years The Cochise Water Project (TCWP), which is overseen by an 11-member board of local community leaders, has successfully recruited government agencies, organizations, businesses, and residents, in its mission to reduce the amount of groundwater being used in the Sierra Vista sub watershed.
“When we see a number like 158 million, it just shows what can be achieved when a community comes together,” said TCWP’s part-time Executive Director Pat Call. “For something like this to work, you need to have buy-in from the local stakeholders and we are pleased to see more people doing their part.
“Our mission is to protect the local aquifer and the San Pedro River, as well as to keep Fort Huachuca viable, since its future is very much tied to the health of the river and local water use. It’s important to have that community participation to meet that goal.”
Founded in January 2012, the 501(c)3 organization has been working to spread its message by encouraging local people to reduce their water usage.
The last 12 months have been the most successful so far, after a number of large, high-impact projects were completed.
Among them was the removal and replacement of the lawn in front of City Hall in Sierra Vista.
Thanks to a $57,000 grant from TCWP, the City of Sierra Vista was able to remove the grass and install artificial turf instead. It is estimated this will save up to 200,000 gallons of water annually.
Visitors to City Hall, or the adjacent Sierra Vista Police Department, will also see a large rainwater-harvesting tank, which collects water from the police station’s roof to maintain the surrounding desert landscape.
“The savings at City Hall represent just a fraction of the water conservation efforts made by the city and key partners like TCWP in recent years,” said City Manager Chuck Potucek. “TCWP also partnered with the city to expand our toilet rebate program, making it more affordable and more available to local residents. Together, the city, TCWP, and other partners have demonstrated a commitment to balancing the local water budget by putting tangible projects into action.”
In addition, the City embraced a number of other water savings measures last year, funded by the TCWP, which is financed through a private foundation, as well as federal and local government monies.
Smart irrigation systems, connected to nearby weather stations, were installed at all City maintained sports fields and parks, which means they will be watered only when needed.
Further savings are also being made at the Sierra Vista fire stations, where TCWP installed rainwater-harvesting systems, allowing the trucks to be washed by run off collected from roofs. Both Fry and Tombstone Fire Departments have had similar systems installed also.
Part of TCWP’s goal is to raise awareness of the importance of water efficiency through education, which it is achieving through a number of ways.
The Sierra Vista Unified School District agreed to have a 5,000-gallon tank placed at its bus barn on Buffalo Soldier Trail.
Many of its vehicles are now washed with rainwater and each of the school buses will display a sign letting people know how the vehicles were cleaned.
“We are proud to be playing an active role in saving valuable water resources through the use of harvested rains to wash our school buses,” said Superintendent Kriss Hagerl. “We look forward to having a full monsoon season that will fill the 5,000-gallon tank, which is enough to wash 66 of our buses.”
A partnership with Cochise College has seen two, 10,000-gallon tanks installed at a high visibility location on its Sierra Vista campus, allowing the landscaping surrounding the Student Union and Library buildings to be fed by rainwater.
Students will also be working on an upcoming project to collect data from a series of weather stations TCWP has placed in and around the sub watershed.
Awareness is also being raised through the annual Movies In The Park, which TCWP presents with the help of area businesses.
The organization shows short, educational videos to the thousands of people who come out to enjoy the free event at Sierra Vista’s Veterans Memorial Park.
TCWP is also encouraging private enterprises to do their part in reducing water consumption, which has included the Sierra Vista Food Co-op.
The natural foods store in the West End took advantage of a grant to have a rainwater harvesting tank placed at the rear of its building last fall.
This water now flushes its toilets, used by both staff and customers, and eventually will help to irrigate a planned herb garden.
“We were very happy to see this project completed,” said store manager John Glennon. “Harvesting rainwater goes very much hand in hand with our mission of sustainability and protecting natural resources.”
Smart irrigation systems paid for by TCWP were also installed at both Pueblo Del Sol and Mountain View golf courses, significantly cutting the amount of water being used to maintain the fairways and greens.
Guests at Ramsey Canyon nature preserve will also note that three rain barrels have been installed at the visitor center to help water its landscaping, while Carr House, another popular attraction, is now flushing its toilets with rainwater – both projects benefited from a TCWP grant.
On the residential side, TCWP continued its ongoing toilet replacement program, which enables homeowners to install low-flush models at a low cost.
More than 1,000 toilets, saving over 10 million gallons of water, were installed in 2015.
For the first time, TCWP extended the program into Bisbee and Tombstone, where many of the older homes still have high water use toilets.
More than 80 residents took advantage of the program and now have 0.8 gallons per flush toilets.
“We were surprised, but very pleased, with how many people wanted to participate in the program in both Tombstone and Bisbee. Due to the historic nature of some of the homes in these towns, we found older toilets were using as much as five gallons per plush,” said Administrative Director Tim Cervantes. “We are happy both communities will be benefiting from water savings in the years to come.”
The non-profit also sold 250 rain barrels at a discounted price, and provided 53 residential rainwater harvesting systems, averaging 1,762 gallons each.
Additionally, more than 14,000 square feet of high water use lawns were replaced by artificial turf in residential neighborhoods.
“Through our community outreach, grants and our rebate programs we have been able to carry out our mission successfully, ” said Call. “Sustaining our natural resources, along with Fort Huachuca, has always been our number one priority and this will continue as we move ahead with new projects in 2016.”
To find out more about TCWP and how you can help reduce your water usage visit