In 1989, Pima County and the City of Tucson adopted parallel plumbing codes requiring water-efficient fixtures in all new residential and commercial construction. Under the ordinances, toilets must be ultra-low-flush models using 1.6 gallons or less per flush while showerheads and faucets must not exceed 2.5 gallons a minute. The codes also apply to the replacement of plumbing fixtures in existing homes and commercial buildings during renovation. Ultra-low-flush toilets conserve up to four gallons per flush saving approximately 4,900 gallons per year for a typical two-person household. Low-flow showerheads and faucets can reduce the flow of water by 50 percent and result in thousands of gallons of water being saved in each residence or business.
The codes also require evaporative cooling systems, decorative fountains, and waterfalls be equipped with water recycling or reuse systems in an effort to reduce water usage. New commercial, industrial, and public construction must contain spring-loaded faucets that close when not in use or faucets that are equipped with metering valves that automatically close after delivering a maximum of 1/4 gallon. In addition to the ultra-low-flow toilets, public urinals must not use more than one gallon per flush and cannot use a timing device to flush periodically regardless of demand. Under the ordinances, water-cooled refrigeration systems must discharge an average of five gallons or less per ton per hour of condenser wastewater and must have a cooling tower, an evaporative condenser, or an acceptable water circulation device installed.
In 1991, both the City of Tucson and Pima County rescinded the requirement that building permits be obtained to replace existing toilets. This action encouraged more individuals to consider replacing their conventional fixtures with water-efficient models.
The plumbing ordinances are an important part of our community conservation program and are expected to account for 51 percent of the water saved in Tucson between 1990 and 2100.
For more information, visit the web page for the Tucson City Code.