New technology can cut water usage for landscaping in half

New technology can cut water usage for landscaping in half

While we in Phoenix are desert dwellers, one look around the Valley makes it clear that most everybody likes it green. But if your job title requires you to make sure the 1.6 million residents of Phoenix have enough water to survive, all that green in the middle of the Sonoran Desert can be a challenge.

"We do love our grass here in the Southwest, but about 60% of water use for a single-family home goes towards outdoor irrigation," Kathryn Sorensen, the water services director for the City of Phoenix, explained.

[WATCH: Granules create "tiny water reserves" in lawn]

Screen Shot 2019-12-02 at 9.37.59 PM.pngAll those dishes, loads of laundry, and showers add up to less than half of what you use to water your lush lawn or plants. But the grass isn't a luxury. It's an integral part of our unique urban setting, Sorensen said.

"It is really important. We have to find a natural balance, mitigating the urban heat island, which is also a quality-of-life issue and [a] water-conservation [issue]," she explained. "This kind of technology might be what bridges that gap."

That technology is a substance that looks and feels like table salt, but it's not. It's a new potassium complex technology from a California company called Aqua Cents. The granules are injected straight down into the grass to create "tiny water reserves" closer to the surface, so the water is there when the roots need it. The polymer is designed to soak up as much as 400 times its weight in water. It will be tested at a vast soccer field complex at Arizona State University West in a partnership between the City of Phoenix and ASU's School of Sustainability.