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Will we run out of water?

Maybe you've heard that much of Arizona has experienced dry winters in recent years. You may have wondered, "What does this mean for the Phoenix area long term? Will we run out of water?"

The answer is no. We’re prepared.

That’s because SRP, Valley cities, the Central Arizona Project (CAP) and the Arizona Department of Water Resources are working together to track drought conditions and plan for a reliable water future.

Together, we’re securing access to multiple water supplies, storing water underground, creating new water laws and exploring new ways to conserve water – so we’re ready for even the driest years.

A diverse and reliable water supply

People in the Valley recognized early on in the 20th century that periods of drought were normal for the region. Over the years, Valley residents, SRP and partnering organizations have invested heavily in infrastructure to create a diverse and reliable water supply.

Unlike most U.S. cities, Greater Phoenix has access to four sources of water.

  1. Water from in-state rivers and streams – SRP manages seven reservoirs that store water from the Salt and Verde rivers and the East Clear Creek watershed. Over half of the water supply in the Phoenix metro area comes from the SRP water system.
  2. Colorado River water – The CAP delivers Colorado River water to the Valley. This represents the area's second-largest water supply.
  3. Reclaimed water – SRP delivers fresh water to cities and towns throughout the Valley. They then treat the water and deliver it to homes and businesses – but that’s just the beginning. Waste water gets a second chance at life when it’s recaptured, treated and recycled. This recycled water – called reclaimed water – can be used for farming, landscaping and more.
  4. Groundwater – Groundwater is water that's stored underground. SRP runs a vast groundwater delivery system that includes 270 high-capacity groundwater wells. Valley cities run large groundwater supply systems too.

Underground, emergency reserves

Since 1994, when underground water storage began in central Arizona, SRP and CAP, in partnership with the Arizona Water Banking Authority and Valley cities, have stored over 3 million acre-feet of reclaimed water and Colorado River water. This water, which is stored underground in aquifers, serves as a backup supply during water shortages or periods of drought.

Tough water laws

The Greater Phoenix area sits within an Active Management Area (AMA). Water providers and users within an AMA have to follow rules outlined in the 1980 Groundwater Management Act. The Act was designed 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. The Act also includes water conservation requirements and incentives for using renewable water. As a result, groundwater levels in some areas of Phoenix have risen – something almost unheard of in the western United States.

Conservation practices

Because of the Groundwater Management Act, cities throughout the Valley have created a variety of water conservation programs. These include rebate programs, free classes, water efficiency checkups and support for xeriscaping (low-water-use landscaping).

Measures like these, along with advancements in technology, are working. Despite the fact that we have five times as many people living here, Arizona uses the same amount of water as it did in 1957.