What could happen next?
SRP reservoir levels on the Salt and Verde rivers increased last winter, and the probability of experiencing a shortage in future years is low.
SRP's water system includes a large network of groundwater wells in addition to surface water supplies. Joint management of these systems has created an extremely reliable water supply, even though the Phoenix area has been experiencing a dry period for over 20 years now.
What you should know
Because of advanced planning, research and technology and a commitment to water conservation, Greater Phoenix is prepared to weather long dry spells and droughts.
Here's what you should know now:
20- to 30-year drought cycles are normal for our arid region.
A study of tree rings dating back nearly 1,000 years shows that long periods of drought are normal, and these periods include "spike years." This would explain the winter of 2017, when SRP's total system capacity climbed from 44% to 76%.
The drought cycle we're currently in started in the mid-1990s. It’s the most severe in over 650 years, and yet, at the end of a very dry winter in 2018, the reservoir system was still 46% full. As of the summer of 2020, the reservoir system was 92% full. You can find current water levels at watershedconnection.com.
We've seen similar dry conditions before, and we’re managing our supplies accordingly.
SRP has been managing our surface water and groundwater supplies together, which has created a reliable supply of water despite many dry years. Our water managers plan for an extended dry period every year so we can ensure certainty for the Valley's water supply and avoid surprises.
We can supplement surface water supplies with groundwater if we need to.
SRP's 270 wells can provide just under 50% of the water delivered by SRP in a year.
In 2018, because of the severely dry conditions, SRP increased pumping from 150,000 acre-feet to 200,000 acre-feet. Even though the extra water wasn't needed, we were able to take this as a precautionary measure – just in case.
SRP makes up for just a portion of the region's water mix, along with supplies from Valley cities and Central Arizona Project. SRP continues to work with these organizations and the Arizona Department of Water Resources to plan for the region's future water needs.
SRP is always looking for ways to save water. There are things you can do at home too.