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Arizona Municipal Water Users Association






water conservation arizona landscape plants
Drought



Praying for rain is a desert dweller's ritual, but Arizonans know the key to thriving in an arid climate is a reliable and redundant water supply. AMWUA's members are prepared to manage extended drought and potential reductions in water supplies.

The information below will familiarize you with the impacts of drought and the steps that cities in the Phoenix area have taken to ensure residents and businesses will have the water they need.


How have Valley cities prepared to manage ongoing drought and potential shortages?[show / hide]

The AMWUA cities have taken proactive steps to ensure their communities can weather ongoing drought and shortage, meet the needs of their residents, and support economic growth.
  • Diverse water supplies. Multiple sources of water--Salt and Verde River water, Colorado River water, reclaimed water, unused water that was stored underground in previous years, and a small amount of groundwater--enable the cities to offset reductions in one or more supplies.
  • Infrastructure. Our water supply systems are built to manage extended periods of limited precipitation. Reservoirs on both the Colorado River and the Salt and Verde Rivers capture vast amounts of water during wet periods for times when there is less precipitation.
  • Recycling. The AMWUA cities reclaim all of their wastewater, putting virtually 100% to beneficial uses--including energy production, irrigation, and underground storage for use in times of shortage--and offsetting the demand for surface supplies.
  • Underground storage. The AMWUA members have collectively invested $400 million to store nearly 1.7MAF of water underground for future withdrawal and use in times of surface water reductions. That's enough water to meet the needs of the AMWUA members for over two years, but it would never be used up that quickly because of the diversity of our water supplies. It's our shortage account.
  • Conservation & efficiency. Large water providers in the most populous areas of the state have been required to meet mandatory conservation requirements for more than 30 years, reducing per capita demand and stretching supplies. The AMWUA cities have led the effort, collectively implementing more than 300 conservation and water use efficiency practices, including aggressive system leak detection and repair; increasingly sophisticated metering and tracking of water use; customer outreach, education, and assistance; rebates and incentives; ordinances and codes; and conservation-based rates.
  • Planning. AMWUA members invest in ongoing long-range planning, including extensive research to understand future water demand trends, growth patterns, supply availability, impacts of drought and climate change, and potential regulatory impacts.
  • Drought plans. All Arizona water providers are required to adopt tiered drought plans (sometimes called shortage plans) designed to incrementally reduce demands during times of shortage in order to ensure there is water to meet the needs of residents and to support the economy. Drought plans are intended to achieve water use reductions above and beyond normal conservation efforts, bringing demand in line with available supplies to avoid reaching an advanced, emergency stage.

When will city drought plans be implemented?[show / hide]

The AMWUA member municipalities continuously monitor and evaluate the availability of supplies and will decide when to implement their drought response plans based on supply projections and management strategies. It's possible that some cities may activate their plans in the near term, while some may not need to launch them for many years, depending on how shortage affects them. Contact your city for information specific to your community.

Will water use be restricted? Will emergency conservation measures be enacted?[show / hide]

Because Arizona leaders made tough decisions early on and because Valley cities have diligently prepared for drought, restrictions on water use are very unlikely in the years ahead.

Many of the emergency conservation measures implemented in other states to address shortages are a long-established way of life in the Valley. Arizona has had mandatory conservation requirements in place for more than 30 years. The AMWUA cities each have well-established conservation programs that encourage customers to adopt conservation as a way of life in the desert.

If drought and shortage continue, and as drought plans are implemented, cities will begin to ask the public to voluntarily increase efforts to reduce water use, above and beyond ongoing conservation efforts.

What else if being done to manage the impacts of drought and reduce shortage?[show / hide]

The Arizona Department of Water Resources Drought Response Program includes mandatory drought response plans, ongoing monitoring, and interagency coordination.

The Arizona Department of Water Resources, CAP, SRP, the Colorado River Basin States, the federal government, Mexico, cities, and agriculture are actively working on collaborative efforts to make our systems more resilient as we face ongoing drought, climate impacts, and continued growth. Examples include the System Conservation Program and the Phoenix-Tucson Pilot. These efforts will allow more time to reduce demands and build additional solutions to manage supplies.

The water in SRP's system starts as snow in the forests of northern Arizona. SRP is working with scientists, government leaders, and researchers to better manage the forest to ensure the quality and sustainability of the water supply.

What can the public do?[show / hide]

Residents and businesses play an important role in helping to manage water supplies sustainably. Converting to drought-tolerant landscaping, learning how to water landscape plants correctly, and changing out old fixtures and appliances with WaterSense labeled models now will start saving water and money that much sooner.

The AMWUA municipalities have resources and professional staff to assist in increasing water efficiency and reducing use. Visit the conservation section of our website and contact AMWUA member conservation offices for more information.

AMWUA member drought plans[show / hide]

Note that many of the AMWUA members are currently in the process of updating these plans. We will post new links as the new plans are finalized.

AMWUA member drought information pages[show / hide]

Colorado River shortage information[show / hide]

Efforts to Protect Lake Mead[show / hide]

The Colorado River is now in its 17th year of drought, and it is also overallocated. This overallocation means the Lower Basin states are promised more water than is actually available in an average year. Arizona water leaders have been working together with the federal government, partner states in the Colorado River basin, and Mexico to address these issues. Learn more about the issue, the risk, and what is being done.

SRP drought information[show / hide]

Conservation resources[show / hide]