2013 Annual Report -- Conservation

Irrigation Controller 

This is one of more than 1,400 irrigation controllers that control water delivery to our thousands of acres of turf and tens of thousands of trees and shrubs.


Water is the single biggest operational expense in Phoenix parks. It takes more than 4.7 billion gallons of water annually at a cost of $10.7 million to irrigate the city's more than 3,000 acres of turf - equivalent to 2,700 football fields - and keep them green, healthy and safe.

To get water where it's needed, staff must monitor and maintain 1,400 irrigation controllers, thousands of sprinkler heads and hundreds of miles of underground pipe.

So increasing watering efficiency by even a small degree can mean serious money and real savings of a precious resource.

In 2013, staff exhaustively reviewed our annual watering cycle as well as every department water account. We rescheduled our spring irrigation schedule in every park to kick start turf growth prior to higher summer water rates taking effect. With this one change, we saved more than $420,000 in water costs in just four months. We also identified and eliminated hundreds of obsolete or incorrectly billed accounts, which will save $40,000 annually. 

Ash Trees - Norton House 

These Ash Trees in Encanto Park burst into beautiful color last fall. Encanto's 1,760 trees make it the most heavily forested park in the city. View our urban forestry page to find out the most common trees in Phoenix parks.


Though the words forest and desert aren't typically tied together, trees are an especially vital part of the desert ecosystem. Trees are the foundation of our parks where they provide vital shade during long summers, while providing huge air quality benefits to the community.

In 2013, the department's forestry supervisory worked with a private contractor to create a computerized, mapped inventory of every single tree -- more than 92,000 of them -- in our parks and public rights of way. The inventory also translates into real dollars the health and economic benefits of our vast urban forest. For example, trees in city parks absorb, or sequester, more than 5.3 million tons of carbon dioxide each year.

Find out more about the economic and health benefits and the tree species that make up Phoenix's urban forest on the interactive Phoenix tree inventory tool.   

Sonoran Paseo Bridge 

The Apace Wash Trailhead also is the gateway to the new Skip Rimsza Paseo, a five mile paved path through the Sonoran Preserve. Pictured here is one of the Paseo's three wash-spanning bridges that feature sweeping desert vistas and tile mosaic artwork by professional artists.

Desert Preserves

Our vast system of desert parks and preserves and our habitat restoration of the Salt River are premier conservation projects that have earned Phoenix national attention.
In 2013 we purchased an additional 1,500 acres for the Phoenix Sonoran Preserve in northern Phoenix and built and opened the Apache Wash Trailhead in the preserve's northern section. This massive trailhead has 200 parking spaces, restrooms, and shade ramadas, and it marks a major new investment in the city's vast desert preserves. 
Staff also kicked off another major investment in the city's preserve system when crews began expanding the lot at the busy Echo Canyon Recreation Area at Camelback Mountain. In addition to a lot expansion, staff also oversee the rerouting and rebuilding of the badly eroded lower section of the heavily used Summit Trail.



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