TUCSON, Dec. 28 (UPI) -- Tucson's push to use rainwater to meet landscaping needs could serve as a model for dry regions throughout the nation, Arizona environmentalists said.
Beginning next year, new businesses in Tucson must use rainwater for at least half of their landscaping needs.
If all of Tucson's rainwater could be collected, it would amount to about 75 percent of the water delivered to homes and businesses each year, said Jim Riley, a University of Arizona hydrologist who teaches about rainwater harvesting.
"You can't catch it all, but this is an important water source we should be thinking about in our planning," Riley said.
Tucson officials are working with homeowners to install cisterns and cut gaps in curbs to let storm water fill basins around trees, rather have it flow into the city's sewage system, The Arizona Republic reported Monday.
Such a system reduces outdoor water use, the largest drain on Tucson's water supply, said Brad Lancaster, author of the book "Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond."