Since 1984, it has been illegal in Tucson to allow water to escape from private property onto another person's property or onto public property such as alleys and streets. The Water Waste and Tampering Ordinance reinforces the message that it is unethical as well as unlawful to waste water in Tucson. Updates to the ordinance were made in 1989 and again in 2000.
Tucson Water employs several citation officers or "water cops" who investigate all reported cases of water waste. They also look for evidence of water waste as they patrol Tucson's streets. The "water cop" usually issues a warning for a first-time violation and provides information to the individual about how to correct the problem. If the problem continues, a citation is written. Cited individuals have five days in which to act (pay a fine or contest the charge) or automatically be held liable. Under the law, water wasters can be fined up to $1,000. Depending on the circumstances, this ordinance also allows a property manager or landscape contractor to be cited for water waste in addition to the property owner.
Water-wasting activities that are prohibited include:
As part of the water ordinance, it also is illegal to tamper with or bypass water meters. The ordinance regulates illegal hose or water meter tie-ins. In 1989, the Mayor and City Council passed an amendment to the Tucson City Code related to bypassing water metering. The amendment places the burden of proof on the customer if the customer's meter has been tampered with. Violators can be fined $250 on a first offense. The second offense carries a fine of $500 and subsequent offenses a minimum fine of $1,000.
Although violations of the Water Waste Ordinance carry the potential for fines and discontinued water service, the main effort of the Water Waste Enforcement program remains educational, even after a citation has been issued. A unique Water Management Diversion Program has been developed that will provide the responsible party with the knowledge, skills, and certain tools needed to effectively control water use on properties, with the goal of eliminating waste. The class is offered as an alternative to paying the penalty.
For more information, visit the web page for the Tucson City Code.