Frequently Asked Questions

Tucson Water Zanjeros picture
(l-r: Frank, George, Orlando, Brian, Gabriel, Angel)

Zanjeros use their experience and training in indoor and outdoor water conservation for free water audits for residential and business customers. Here are answers to several of the top questions they receive in categories such as Meters, Billing, Rebates and Low Income Programs, Water Quality, and Water Supply.

Meters

Where is my meter located?
Your water meter is usually located in the ground, at the front curb, or in the alley. It measures the amount of water used in your household. 

How do I read my meter?
Reading your meter is a great way to monitor water usage and detect leaks.  Whether you have a digital or analog water meter, click here for instructions on how to read your meter: 

How does TW read meters?
Once a month, a Tucson Water employee will take data from your meter using a handheld remote reader or by visual inspection. Check your utility statement for your meter read date. Tucson Water takes the current reading and subtracts from it the previous reading to calculate your billing cycle water usage. 

Why is my usage the same every month?
The average single family usage is 8 Ccf, or 5,984 gallons. Because the meter registers the amount of Ccfs moving through it, only full Ccfs are accounted for in the billing system. As soon as a full 748 gallons passes through the meter, the reading will increase by 1 Ccf. If a property uses between 5,984 and 6,731 gallons, the meter read will be 8 Ccfs, but that next gallon that bumps 6,731 to 6,732 would be read as 9 Ccfs.

Why wasn’t I told when my meter was changed?
Our installer attempts to notify the homeowner; however, since meter replacement is at no-cost, and does not require access to a home or business, Tucson Water or our contractor proceed with the work. You will experience a brief water outage while a valve is turned to the off position for the worker.

How do the meters work?
Water meters measure water passing through it in cubic feet, where one cubic foot equals 7.48 gallons of water. Tucson Water calculates water usage based on hundreds of cubic feet (Ccf) or per 748 gallons. Your water meter register has an analog dial or digital display.

Billing

What are the most common reasons for a high bill?
Inside the home, toilet leaks. Outside the home, irrigation leaks and malfunctioning irrigation timers. 

How can I prevent high bills?
Check and fix leaks inside and outside the home – toilets and irrigation systems are the biggest water wasters. Consider installing water efficient toilets, shower heads, rainwater harvesting systems and appliances. Recycle rainwater and graywater to use on plants.

Why do you bill more for higher usage? How do you factor your tier rates?
Known as an inclining block rate structure, the first 7 Ccfs are the lowest cost per Ccf, 8-15 are the next highest, then 16-30, and the highest is for each Ccf over 30. The first 7 Ccfs are what we expect customers use indoors, necessary for human health and well-being, for cooking, cleaning, and in bathrooms. We keep that volume of water at the most affordable to ensure that families can afford water for basic needs. 

How do you figure what a person will pay in sewer fees?
Pima County Regional Wastewater and Reclamation Department exiting Tucson Water website uses the average of your December, January, and February water billing periods to calculate your monthly sewer charge because these three months typically do not have a high outdoor water demand and are considered to be the lowest in overall water use.

How much water does a person/family use in a month?
Each person uses about 80 gallons of water per day. An average residential customer account uses 8 Ccfs, or 5,984 gallons each month.

Rebates and Low Income Programs

Do you offer rebates?
Yes, Tucson Water offers business and residential customers rebates, grants, and loans to encourage water-efficiency. Learn more about high-efficiency toilets and clothes washers, or gray water and rainwater systems here.

How much water can a running toilet use?
A toilet that sounds like it is constantly running may be leaking an average of 200 gallons of water a day!  The fix may be as simple as replacing a flapper or the ball floater. Find out how to get a free water conservation kit here exiting Tucson Water website.

Is there a low-income program and what is the criteria for qualification?
Yes, the City of Tucson provides a monthly discount to qualified low income customers for monthly utility services, including water and trash fees. There is also a grant and loan program to install rainwater harvesting and a free toilet replacement program as well, that covers up to two toilets and installation. Visit tucsonaz.gov/cares exiting Tucson Water website to see which programs are available for your income and household size.

Water Quality

What chemicals are used to treat our groundwater and what is the process?
Tucson Water adds sodium hypochlorite to drinking water, which is the most common disinfectant used by public water systems. The chemical is injected at well and booster sites.

Why is my water cloudy sometimes?
Milky or cloudy water may be caused by air trapped in the water. It may be introduced by construction in the area, a pressure reducing valve, or a faucet aerator and can normally be cleared by turning your faucet on to move the air out of the private water line.  

Why does the smell of sewage come from my sinks?
A rotten egg smell usually means bacteria is growing in a sink drain, garbage disposal, sink trap, or water heater. Clean the drain with products like baking soda and vinegar or bleach, or clear out the trap manually.

Why is our water so hard?
Tucson and most soil in the region have a high concentration of calcium carbonate. The water in this region dissolves calcium and other minerals from interactions with soil and rock material. Hard water is safe to drink and is not a health risk, but it does affect taste. See our interactive water quality map for more information.

Water Supply

Where does Tucson get its water?
Over 90% of the water Tucson Water uses is Colorado River water recharged and recovered at Tucson Water facilities in Avra Valley. The rest of the water used in Tucson is from native groundwater wells, recycled treated wastewater, or rain/stormwater sources.

What are the water reserves for Tucson?
Each year, Tucson Water receives 144,191 acre-feet of water from the Colorado River through the Central Arizona Project canal. This is about 38% more than customers demand, the unused water is left in the aquifer. 

Will Tucson run out of water?
No, thanks to careful planning by the Mayor and Council and Tucson Water, and our community’s history of water conservation, Tucson has a solid supply of water for the future.

How many years are in the reserves?
We have over five years of Colorado River water stored in the aquifer. There is much more water available in the aquifer, but we use the native groundwater much less, or in times when the Colorado River water is not being pumped or delivered because of system maintenance.

Where is our water stored?
Tucson Water’s long-term water supply is stored underground in the Tucson and Avra Valley aquifer. Water that is pumped out for customers to use is stored temporarily in dozens of reservoirs around Tucson. For additional information, see our publication, "Status and Quality of the Aquifer."

Do you have a question for one of the Zanjeros? Send an e-mail to Tucson Water's Public Information / Conservation Office (PICO).

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