Meet a Tucson Water Partner: Smartscape
June 28, 2021
Smartscape delivers comprehensive, research-based programs that promote water efficiency by instructing and empowering landscape and irrigation professionals on proper design, installation, and maintenance of sustainable, desert-adapted landscapes.
Since its start in 1994, Smartscape’s collaborative relationships have grown to include Tucson Water, Arizona Municipal Water Users Association, the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, and the Arizona Department of Water Resources. Regional support for the program comes from the Arizona Nursery Association, the Arizona Landscape Contractors Association, and industry representatives. More than 4,000 industry professionals have attended Smartscape courses in Pima and Maricopa Counties!
Smartscape helps landscape and irrigation professionals stay up to date on industry trends, research, and practices while building skills to increase sustainability. Well-designed, desert-adapted landscapes can help lower water bills, reduce the time and money spent on maintenance, add value to homes and businesses, and even reduce electricity use. Landscapes are an investment to enjoy for years to come, so it's essential to make sure you hire the right person to help you design, install, and maintain that investment.
The benefits of Smartscape can be seen on all sides. The Smartscape website provides information on upcoming Smartscape training and promotes training and certification opportunities for landscape professionals. For residents and businesses, the website touts the value of hiring trained, certified landscape and irrigation professionals, while highlighting Smartscape graduates and the businesses they represent.
Tucson Water’s Smartscape sponsorship means all Smartscape classes in Tucson are free! Landscape professionals can take an 8-class course in fundamentals, then opt for 3-class advanced modules. Classes for residents include rainwater harvesting (required for Tucson Water rebates), drip irrigation basics, and a more in-depth rainwater harvesting class focusing on operation and maintenance.
Success for the Tucson Water-Smartscape partnership is measured in the number of attendees, certificates awarded to graduates, attendee evaluations and the sustained commitment from local landscape companies to utilize Smartscape for employee training.
The “aha!” moments, the networking and friendships that happen in Smartscape classes are great, too. Promoting beautiful, sustainable landscapes that reduce water use plus add greenery, support pollinators, and fight urban heat islands are the program’s best measure of success.
Smartscape is working on two exciting projects. Smartscape and Tucson Water are piloting the “HOA Landscape Transformation Program,” a planning guide and consulting service to help HOAs improve landscape health and reduce water use. Smartscape is also working on a multi-disciplinary project to develop a local Green Stormwater Infrastructure maintenance protocol and to provide training for the City of Tucson, Pima County, neighborhood associations, and nonprofits.
Support for Smartscape is provided by the Tucson Water Conservation Program, which receives funding from the Water Conservation Fee paid by Tucson Water customers. For more information on the Conservation Program, please click here.
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This article appeared in the July 2021 edition of Water Matters.
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