Mead Mier is a three-time saver.

In connect-the-dots fashion, Mier saves water that saves money that saves desert waterways.

By participating in the Conserve to Enhance pilot program, Mier says she found an easy and fun way to restore the environment.

The program helped her and her housemates get their daily water use down to 30 gallons per person. The average Tucsonan uses between 90 and 100 gallons a day.

She saved $5 a month, which she donated to Conserve to Enhance projects.

The pilot program, which ends this year, kept track of her water savings, sent a monthly newsletter on water-saving tips and offered educational events and workshops.

The playful watershed planner with the Pima Association of Governments focused on fun, inexpensive and do-it-yourself activities to conserve water.

"The most fun thing I did was all the earthworks that passively collect the rainwater in the yard," Mier says. She ended up not watering trees at all.

Here are some other ideas she used:


• Ran a PVC pipe from her clothes washer on the back patio to the grassy dog area so she could irrigate it with laundry water, called gray water. She used gray-water-safe detergent to reduce harsh chemicals.

• Installed an outdoor shower to wash off and water grass at the same time.


• Used an hourglass timer to keep her showers to three minutes. She also tried the "one song long" method: Shower as long as one song on the radio.

• Warmed the bathroom during showers with a space heater instead of steam from hot water.

• Fixed a leaking toilet and installed aerators on faucets, both of which were suggestions from a Tucson Water water audit.

Although she already was mindful of saving water, Mier says the program pumped up her efforts.

"It's a little reminder and a lot more insight," says Mier, who lives in a different house now. "And it's a lot of resources at your fingertips."

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How C2E works

Conserve to Enhance (C2E) uses the savings from water conservation to help pay for restoring local wash and river habitats.

The pilot program contributed to October's restoration efforts at the Atterbury Wash through Lincoln Regional Park, says Karilyn Roach, program coordinator at Watershed Management Group (WMG).

At press time, the effort by 60 participants had conserved 1.9 million gallons of water worth $4,600, Roach says.

WMG leads the program, which was developed by the University of Arizona Water Resources Research Center.

It works with Tucson Water to track a participant's water use. Tucson Water can show how much the customer saved over previous water use and translate that into a dollar amount.

The participant then donates all or some of that savings to the C2E program through an automatic deduction on the Tucson Water bill.

WMG gives participants tips on saving water and organizes events so participants can meet up.

To enroll, call WMG at 396-3266 or go online at

Contact local freelance writer Elena Acoba at