Water in a dry state

Phoenix, Ariz., has grown to more than 3.5 million people since 1980, and yet, the city uses 20 percent less water than it did at that time. While that doesn’t quite make it a green oasis, it does point to some water-saving measures they’ve used that other cities potentially could adopt for themselves.

For instance, the “yellow-let-it-mellow” mantra actually seems to help, as does xeriscaping yards with more drought-tolerant plants and using rain barrels, down spouts and low-flow appliances, according to an article from Mother Nature Network. Other measures individuals and businesses have taken include leveling agricultural fields with lasers at an angle to collect water runoff, and developing an Energy Star-like rating for appliances that save water. Aquifers that have banked water over the years also serve as a reserve for the city. And Phoenix started the nationwide “Fix a Leak” campaign in March that brings EPA WaterSense people to residents’ homes to help them conserve water.

Phoenix gets 90 percent of its water from the Colorado and Salt rivers, with the remainder coming from groundwater and reclaimed water.