Emergency Water Conservation Ordinance


In order to ensure Tucson Water can maintain adequate water supplies to provide for life safety and fire protection, an Emergency Water Conservation Ordinance was approved by Mayor and Council in 1995. The Ordinance gives the Mayor and Council, the Mayor, or his or her designate the authority to declare a water emergency and to implement mandatory water conservation measures targeting non-essential uses.

While we may never experience a water emergency, it is prudent to have measures in place which allow the City to prohibit non-essential water use to protect public health and safety.

Criteria for Declaring a Water Emergency

A number of factors will determine if a water emergency exists:

  • Maintaining an adequate supply of water to meet demand
    Tucson Water continually monitors water production and storage facilities throughout our distribution system.
  • Existing and projected customer demand
    Water demand is estimated daily, based on well pumpage rates, operational hours and reservoir levels.
  • Weather forecasts
    Tucson Water receives National Weather Service reports and extended forecasts every day.
  • Ability to maintain fire protection flows
    A minimum reservoir level necessary to provide fire-fighting water has been established.
  • Catastrophic loss of supply
    A major main break or loss of a production or distribution facility could reduce water supply.
  • Estimated duration of the situation
    Preparedness and response plans must be able to address short- and long-term disruptions.

Mandatory Conservation Measures

The ordinance prohibits:

  • All outdoor irrigation, except for those areas irrigated with reclaimed water. If appropriate, an irrigation schedule may be implemented in place of the ban.
  • Washing of sidewalks, driveways, parking areas, patios or other paved areas with water from a pressurized source, such as a garden hose. Exceptions may be made in cases where washing is necessary to protect public health.
  • Water cooling systems that do not recirculate the water at least once. (Evaporative coolers that recirculate water more than once would not be affected by the ordinance.)
  • Restaurants that serve water unless specifically requested by a customer.
  • Filling of swimming pools or spas or operation of fountains, water-powered children's toys, or other water features.
  • Washing cars, trucks or other mobile equipment except at facilities which recirculate wash water or for vehicles which require frequent washing to protect public health.

The City Manager can grant a variance in cases where serious hardship to the customer would result.


When a violation is observed, a written notice requiring the violation be corrected will be given to the customer. If the violation is not corrected, water service to the customer may be disconnected. A $250.00 fee may be imposed to reconnect the service, or a fine of no less than $250.00 may be levied. For additional information, call (520) 791-4331.