Tucson, Arizona Rebates for Curb Cuts to Harvest Rainwater

In Tucson, curb cuts can reduce flooding on streets and capture water for irrigation in the arid region. Tucson began offering water harvesting rebates for the installation of curb cuts, openings created in the curb to allow stormwater from the street to flow into water-harvesting basins. Curb cuts are used to reduce the amount of stormwater flowing down the street, often diverting that water into basins to irrigate vegetation. The Tucson City Council voted in November 2014 to expand the city’s rainwater harvesting rebate program to provide rebates for curb cut installation.

One inch of rain falling on one block of a typical city street generates approximately 6,700 gallons of stormwater runoff. The stormwater can flood streets and create traffic hazards, carry pollutants into the waterways, erode soil downstream of the street, and increase maintenance costs. Curb cuts capture some of this stormwater, reducing the flood risk and providing water for neighborhood vegetation. This vegetation can shade streets and sidewalks, cooling neighborhood temperatures and creating more desirable places for biking and walking.

Tucson’s arid climate receives only about 12 inches of rain each year, more than half of which falls during the annual monsoon. This makes Tucson both vulnerable to flooding and in need of water for irrigation. Curb cuts provide benefits for both these issues, helping to reduce dependence on drinking water for outdoor uses like irrigation.

Tucson already requires a permit to install a curb cut, which costs $50 and requires using a licensed contractor. Previously, the city’s existing rainwater harvesting rebate program allowed single-family homeowners to get rebates of up to $2,000 to capture rain for their landscaping, but curb cuts were not a permissible use for rebates. After the City Council voted in November 2014 to make curb cut permits and installation costs eligible for rainwater harvesting rebates, the Tucson Water Department updated its rebate program and materials accordingly. Curb cuts are now eligible under the program as a “Level 1” (simple/passive) incentive, meaning that single-family homeowners and small commercial customers can recover 50% of the cost (up to $500) of eligible materials and labor, including permit costs, for installing a curb cut. Rebates for curb cuts and other program expansions took effect in July 2015.

 

This Adaptation Clearinghouse entry was prepared with support from the Federal Highway Administration. This entry was last updated on January 28, 2016.

 

Publication Date: July 2015

Related Organizations:

  • City of Tucson, Arizona
  • City of Tucson, Water Department
  • Tucson Water

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  • Best practice
  • Funding program

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