Since water is scarce in Arizona, drought is a natural occurrence. In fact, Arizona has been in a drought of some form since 1994. Not surprisingly, this affects the amount of water available to Arizona citizens. Because of that, cities are creating multi-tier water conservation plans to ensure we have enough water for years to come.
You may be questioning what a multi-tier water plan is. This can be best explained by using the city of Scottsdale’s river water shortage diagram. You can see various levels and their impact on the greater Phoenix area. In the most severe years of drought, cities enter in to a tier 3 shortage. This would result n an 18 percent water reduction, meaning water quantities must be rationed. Each of the primary water sources in Arizona (Colorado, Salt, and Verde River, groundwater, and reclaimed water) is constantly and closely monitored to better gauge the average amount of water available in reservoirs, thus determining Arizona’s tier shortage.
Thankfully, according to Emily DeJesu, a water conservation specialist, Arizona has not entered such a dire situation. She explains, “The wet winter that we had temporarily prevented Lake Powell and Lake Mead from reaching critical operation levels and has lifted the elevation of Lake Mead above 1050 feet. Under the current operation guidelines, the elevation determines that we will return to a tier 1 shortage for 2024.” While this is good news, we must continue to conserve water to maintain this upward trend.
As a result, Arizona has been actively planning and addressing drought conditions in several different ways. DeJesu affirms that “Arizona’s Legislature earlier this year has invested 1.2 billion dollars over three years to fund projects that will bring additional water to the state, as well as more water conservation efforts.” The central concept behind this funding is to think outside the box and provide new and innovative ways to increase our conservation efforts and educate the general public.
In July of 2022, the Arizona legislature and then Governor Doug Ducey approved money to focus on water conservation and new sources of water. According to Senator Karen Fann, $200 million will go towards conserving the water the state has now. Another $200 million will go toward short-term goals, such as irrigation and reusing water, and $800 million will go toward building new water infrastructure. This will hopefully provide meaningful sources and resources of water for years to come.