The Phoenix Zoo is committed to making positive changes with our water use, and setting an example for guests to follow.

For example, one of the easiest and most effective ways we’ve conserved water over the past several years has been tracking water meters month to month. In effect, this helps locate even the smallest of leaks much faster, and allows us to resolve them more effectively. Remarkably, this process has yielded a 15 percent reduction in water use across the entire Zoo.

But we didn’t stop there. Phoenix averages about 7.5 inches of rainfall annually, and we want to collect every drop possible. Rainwater is different from our city water in that it doesn’t contain chlorine and the pH is often neutral. Because our soils and water tend to be very alkaline, plants certainly appreciate the pureness of rainwater.

A general rule of rain is that a 1,000 square foot roof will shed about 600 gallons of water for every inch of rainfall. The roof atop our horse arena is 150 feet x 75 feet. That means we can collect about 53,561 gallons of water annually!

Additionally, the Red Barn at Harmony Farm has a large watershed roof that we installed through a partnership with Watershed Management Group. An inch of rainfall collected from the roof of our Red Barn equals about 840 gallons of useable rainwater for our plants and animals.

Here are a few quick tips on water conservation:

  • Don’t plant on mounds. Roots dry out quicker, creating a need for more irrigation.
  • Use berms on the downslope to minimize runoff.
  • Earthworks are the most affordable way to harvest rainwater.
  • Drip irrigation is more efficient than sprays for most plants.
  • Deep watering grows a stronger root system—plants are, thus, more resistant to winds and heat stress.
  • Add mulch! Mulch is magic.

Want to save 400 or more gallons at your own home? You can with rainwater harvesting. Get all the tips and tricks you need on our comprehensive Rainwater Harvesting webpage.


From time to time, Water – Use It Wisely features guest bloggers who write about topics related to water and water conservation. This post was written and submitted by the Phoenix Zoo 

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