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QuikTrip Harvesting Water at Tucson Stores

TUCSON, Ariz. -- QuikTrip Corp. volunteered to be the one of the first to comply with a new city ordinance that takes effect in June and will require all new commercial developments to obtain at least half of their water for landscaping from Tucson's annual rainfall of 11 to 12 inches.

Rain falling on the roofs of QuikTrip's new Tucson convenience stores trickle into pipes that water willow acacia trees and native shrubs, while the parking lots slope to direct water into deep gravel that keeps it around for the desert landscaping rather than having it run down the street, according to a report by the Tucson Weekly.

Designing the company's 12 new Tucson stores to harvest rain makes good business sense when it comes to water bills, Troy DeVos, director of real estate for Tulsa, Okla.-based QuikTrip, told the newspaper. And helping the environment is an added benefit, he noted. "It's a great opportunity to make a difference and really help out, and we'll be saving money in the long run," DeVos explained.

Tucson Vice Mayor Rodney Glassman, who pushed for the ordinance -- the first of its kind in the nation -- said this type of water conservation should be the rule rather than the exception. "Tucson is at the bottom of the Central Arizona Project, so we're most impacted by future drought," he said. "We're planning for the future."

The ordinance will require what's commonly referred to as passive harvesting. Instead of storing rainwater in tanks, it is channeled immediately to landscaping, the report said.

The cost to outfit a commercial development for passive harvesting varies by the size of the building and the type and complexity of landscaping, pipes and drains installed. But Glassman said the cost is slight, in part because it can be incorporated into the design, and that complying with the ordinance can be as simple as sloping a parking lot.
"Any cost incurred is at the discretion of the developer," he said.

Although the water harvesting ordinance doesn't take effect until June, QuikTrip volunteered to be the one of the first commercial projects to comply. "We want to keep rainwater here, not let it run off and be wasted," DeVos said.

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