Tucson C2E Program | wrrc.arizona.edu

Tucson C2E Program

The University of Arizona Water Resources Research Center, the City of Tucson, Tucson Water, the Sonoran Institute, and Watershed Management Group partnered in 2010 to create the nation’s first Conserve to Enhance program.  To date, more than 3,000,000 gallons of water have been conserved by Tucson C2E participants and over $60,000 has been donated to enhance riparian areas and urban washes throughout the Tucson community.

C2E opens yearly grant cycles for local Community Enhancement Projects.  These types of projects should directly benefit a neighborhood’s natural areas and waterways through preservation or restoration practices.  Groups of three or more individuals from separate, unrelated households are invited to submit proposals.  This group may be affiliated with a neighborhood organization, a school, a church or other type of local organization that has a physical presence in the proposed area of enhancement.  Community Enhancement Projects must be consistent with the C2E goals and located within Tucson Water’s service area.  Community Enhancement Projects are generally funded in the range of $2,500-$7,500, not to exceed $7,500.

Application Deadline: The 2015 grant cycle is now closed. 

2013 Tucson C2E project sites:

Tucson area map of 2013 Community Enhancement Projects (click map for larger image)

These one-year projects will be publically accessible and will serve as demonstration sites and visible community assets that allow Tucson Water customers to see how their contributions are invested to benefit of the local environment. All of the projects involve significant volunteer help and commumity engagement.

Henry Elementary WINS! – Wash Improvement and Neighborhood Sustainability submitted by Henry Elementary. Project highlights include: removing invasive species and pet waste and planting 50 native trees, installing a cistern and swales at the school and an art contest for wash signage. 

1st Ave./Seneca Greening and Beautification Project submitted by the Northwest and El Cortez Neighborhoods. Project highlights include: installing 5 curb cuts and streetside basins to slow and sink storm water, planting native, drought-tolerant plants and trees that will be watered with storm water flows, improved walkability & increased shade along corridor

Mitchell Park Wildlife Habitat & Green Infrastructure Project submitted by the Mountain/1st Ave Neighborhood. Project highlights include: installing curbcuts and swales for storm water access to vegetation, planting 16 native trees and 30 native shrubs, all within a neighborhood park to maximize visibility.


Program Goals

The goal of the C2E Tucson Pilot is to link household conservation effort with local riparian enhancement efforts to ensure the long-term sustainability of our water resources. The Tucson Pilot program was launched in January 2011 with 60 participants. Each participant has agreed to conserve water through the implementation of rainwater harvesting, along with additional water conservation practices, at their home or business and to donate the monetary value of their water savings to a Conserve to Enhance Fund.  A community advisory board oversees the selection of the recipient restoration sites and provides guidance on program development.  To date, participants have saved over 3 million gallons of water and donated more than $60,000 has been donated to the Tucson Conserve to Enhance fund.  Participant contributions average $3.56 per month, closely in line with donation levels for similar voluntary contribution programs throughout the West. 

In addition to raising funds through participant contributions, the C2E Tucson Pilot has partnered with Tucson Water to collect riparian and open space enhancement funds through a check box on all Tucson Water bills. Any water user that receives a Tucson Water bill can donate any amount each month to the Conserve to Enhance Fund. This program is currently raising $10,000 to $15,000 per year. Donations are expected to increase as the check box donation option is promoted to water users.

Atturbury Wash dry-Kroesen.bmp
2012 Tucson C2E funding recipient Atturbury Wash


Program benefits

For Participants:

Businesses, homeowners, and residents who enroll in C2E receive advice on water saving practices and technologies from the C2E Tucson program and free water audits from Tucson Water. In addition, the 60 pilot program participants received subsidies to install water harvesting features through Watershed Management Group’s co-op program. Participants’ water use is tracked on a monthly basis using Tucson Water data and they are asked to donate the cumulative value of their water savings on a quarterly basis.


At Your Home: Families participating in C2E learn about simple water-saving actions and save both water and money.  Families also benefit from the projects implemented in their area and from the enhancement of the natural environment.


Businesses:  Businesses participating in C2E give back to their community by implementing changes that are both business smart and water smart. Join a growing network of regional businesses that promote awareness about our most precious resource — water.  View a brochure on what benefits C2E can bring to your business here.


For the Environment:

Funds raised by the C2E Tucson Pilot and from the Tucson Water check box will be devoted to environmental enhancement projects located within the Tucson Water service area. The first recipient project is a passive rainwater harvesting, native landscaping, and riparian restoration demonstration project located adjacent to Atturbury Wash in Lincoln Park on the southside of Tucson.  Led by Tucson Audubon, the project was completed in October 2012 with help from over 30 volunteers.  The project is a one-acre passive rainwater harvesting demonstration site that includes three rock-lined basins, over 25 native trees and shrubs and a raised viewing path. The final touches will be put on the site in 2013 when interpretive signage is developed to educate the public about riparian areas, native plants and best landscape practices for passive water harvesting.

In the future, the Tucson C2E program will continue to fund large, riparian oriented projects like Atturbury Wash, but will also fund neighborhood scale environmental enhancement projects. Neighborhood scale projects will enhance neighborhood environmental quality by providing local habitat, storm water retention, green space, and shade.  All C2E projects will provide opportunities for people to invest in the local environment with their dollars, as well as their time through volunteer service.


How to Get Involved

The Tucson C2E program is recruiting its second round of participants for 2013. Contact Candice Rupprecht if you have questions or go directly to www.conserve2enhance.org to enroll.  You can also donate to Tucson’s C2E program now by giving money through the "Open Space and Riparian Enhancement" check box on your monthly Tucson Water bill or by going to the Watershed Management Group website. Interested community members may also serve on the C2E Advisory Board, which meets bi-monthly. 

Photo Credit: Watershed Management Group

Program Partner Websites

Program Materials

Program Partners