Water, it’s a hot topic in Southern Arizona, where rainfall is a rare sight, especially outside of the monsoon season. The scarcity of water is the reason for Oro Valley’s Water Conservation Program.

“Everybody seems to want to move to Arizona, and we have to make sure we have enough water,” said Charles Stack, an environmentalist and resident in Oro Valley.

He realized the importance of sustainable and clean water during his many days of fishing as a young child.

“That was in the 1960s. Water in the U.S. was really polluted, and I was like, ‘Hey, this really stinks,” he said. “So I kind of hung in it for my whole life, and I see we’ve made a lot of progress in cleaning up our water.”

For Stack and his wife, moving to Oro Valley from Chicago, a city near Lake Michigan, the importance of sustainable water management was further highlighted.

“[It’s] One of the reasons I moved here was because of the challenge in helping the community plan for future water scarcity,” he noted.

Oro Valley relies on a mix of groundwater, reclaimed water, and water from the Colorado River through the Central Arizona Project.

The Water Conservation Program aims to make the best use of the town’s water supply through education, water audits and a portal allowing residents to track their consumption.

During the monsoon season, Karn Boyce, the town’s Water Conservation Specialist, further encourages people to collect rainwater.

“Homeowners [in Oro Valley] generally use between fifty and seventy percent of their total use outdoors. So harvesting that rainwater is an important part of that,” Boyce said.

Stack believes it’s the combined efforts of the town and its residents that will keep their water flowing for years to come.

“Every time we turn on a tap, we have to think, ‘Okay, that water is going down the drain. It’s going to take energy to treat that.’ So the less water we put down the drain, the better.”