We’ve all seen the images: Lake Powell water levels down to historic lows. And we’ve heard about the dry winters we’ve had in recent years and the continual concerns about global warming. Added to that, the population explosion in the state, and the fact that we live in a desert climate tend to beg the question: Will Arizona run out of water?
Current drought conditions are nothing new
Scientists have studied tree rings dating back nearly 1000 years that show that long periods of drought are normal for our state with the current cycle beginning in the mid-1990s.* However, the state has systems in place including the Central Arizona Project (CAP) and the Arizona Department of Water Resources who are working together to plan for a reliable water future.
A diverse and reliable water supply
Unlike most U.S. cities, the Greater Phoenix area has access to four sources of water:
- Water from in-state rivers and streams. Seven reservoirs store water from the Salt and Verde rivers and the East Clear Creek watershed. Over half of Phoenix’s water supply comes from these reservoirs.
- Colorado River water. The CAP delivers Colorado River Water to the Valley representing the area’s second-largest water supply.
- Reclaimed water. Waste water gets a second chance at life when it’s recaptured, treated and recycled. This reclaimed water is used for farming, landscaping, and more.
- Groundwater. Groundwater is water that’s stored underground. The Valley has a vast groundwater delivery system that includes a number of high-capacity groundwater wells.
Since 1984, when underground water storage began in central Arizona, CAP & the Arizona Water Banking Authority and Valley cities have stored over three million acre feet of reclaimed and Colorado River water. This water is stored in underground aquifers and can serve as a backup supply during shortages or periods of drought.*
Tough water laws
The 1980 Groundwater Management Act was implemented to protect groundwater supplies and limit water use. By law, developers and cities have to prove that a 100-year assured water supply is available for each development. It also includes water conservation requirements and incentives for using renewable water.*
What can I do to help?
Water conversation and preservation is the responsibility of everyone. When it comes to saving water, small changes can make a big difference. Some of these changes include:
- Use your dishwasher. They typically use less water than washing dishes by hand.
- When doing laundry, match the water level to the size of the load.
- Take 5-minute showers instead of baths. A full bathtub requires up to 70 gallons of water.
- Check your faucets and showerheads for leaks. One drip every second adds up to five gallons a day.
- Run your washer and dishwasher only when they’re full. You can save up to 1000 gallons a month.
- Choose xeriscaping with Arizona-friendly low-water plants in your yard.
- Check your sprinkler system regularly and adjust sprinklers so only your lawn is watered and not your house, fence, or street.
The website Water-Use It Wisely has put together a list of 100+ ideas for saving water.**
If you are considering moving to the region from out of state and buying a house in Phoenix, with our diverse water supply and all the various systems in place to conserve and preserve it, there is no reason to fear a water shortage. And, if we all take steps to conserve the water supply we have, we will be able to enjoy a plentiful water supply for many years to come.