Diverse Water Supplies Strengthen our Resiliency

Published Aug 30, 2021

Yes, we are heading into a Tier 1 Colorado River shortage in 2022. Still, it’s important to remember that the AMWUA cities utilize more than Colorado River water, which represents only a portion of your city’s water portfolio.

The AMWUA cities also use water from the Salt and Verde Rivers, reclaimed water, and a small percentage of groundwater. By investing in and protecting their rights to these multiple water supplies, the cities are better prepared for the long-term and any short-term challenges that may arise, such as a shortage that impacts one of those sources.

Although each city’s portfolio may differ from that of their neighbor’s, most utilize the following water sources in addition to Colorado River water delivered by the Central Arizona Project (CAP).

Salt and Verde River Water

  • Each city has an agreement to receive water from the Salt River Project (SRP) , which is the largest provider of water to the Phoenix Metropolitan area.
  • SRP operates eight dams, seven reservoirs, and 131 miles of canals that bring water from the Salt and Verde Rivers  to the Valley. 
  • The Salt and Verde rivers flow into Roosevelt Lake behind Roosevelt Dam, the largest reservoir in SRP’s system, and can hold 1.6 million acre-feet or enough to meet SRP contracts for two years.
  • Reservoir water can be blended with groundwater and Colorado River water to meet the region’s total needs. This redundancy in supply enhances water reliability.
  • This summer’s record-breaking monsoon activity has helped the Salt and Verde reservoirs to recover from a very dry winter. The combined capacity of the Salt and Verde reservoirs is currently 71% full.

Reclaimed Water

  • This is a renewable water source, most often called recycled water  or treated wastewater .
  • All AMWUA cities have been maximizing the use of reclaimed water for decades by putting the vast majority to beneficial use. 
  • It is used for energy production, creating riparian habitats, irrigating sports fields, golf courses, non-edible crops, and commercial landscapes.
  • The cities also use recycled water for recharging aquifers by storing water underground , so it is available for use when needed.
  • The cities also champion new technology that would allow for direct potable reuse in the future.


  • The AMWUA cities understand the importance of preserving groundwater and have been stalwart supporters of the 1980 Groundwater Management Act.
  • The landmark Groundwater Management Act aims to achieve safe-yield , meaning that no more groundwater is pumped than is replenished annually.
  • Groundwater remains the ultimate backup for a dire extended drought and water shortage.

The cities understand our resiliency depends upon long-term planning and investing in diverse and reliable water portfolios. Yet, despite having multiple water sources, we never have enough to waste, so remember water conservation and efficiency are vital to our sustainable future here in the desert.

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For over 50 years, the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association has worked to protect our member cities’ ability to provide assured, safe, and sustainable water supplies to their communities. For more water information, visit .

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