As the drought persists, here’s how Phoenix is prepared

Water is a precious resource in a desert city like Phoenix. Community members understand the importance of water conservation to keep the city thriving. Unlike other areas in the southwest, Phoenix is not in a water shortage. While the drought is serious, Phoenix is prepared.

Over 20 years into the current drought, Phoenix continues to have access to several water supplies, including Salt, Verde, and Colorado River, groundwater reserves, and reclaimed wastewater for crops and sustainable activities. Investments in infrastructure, strategic and innovative planning on behalf of city leaders, and long-standing water conservation programs are just some of the reasons why water supplies in Phoenix will remain in good shape.

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“We have known that this drought has been coming, and we have been proactively working for many years to build a sustainable city that can still thrive in the face of a drought,” said Mayor Kate Gallego. “However, we all need to continue take a holistic approach and do our part by conserving water in every way we can.”

Phoenix Water Services Capital Improvement Program is a multi-year plan to improve the water pipes, treatment plants, booster stations and water wells. These projects maintain safe and reliable water deliveries to protect public health and improve the overall system efficiency. Included in the Improvement Program are the Drought Resiliency Infrastructure project, Ground Water Well and Energy, Technology and Facilities Programs.

“Over the last decade, we have been making efficient infrastructure investments to our systems to ensure that we can safely move water and get it into homes and businesses around the city,” said Director of Phoenix Water Services Troy Hayes. “These infrastructure investments put us in good position and we were ready for shortages on the river.”

These programs are the core of the infrastructure initiatives that ensure efficient use of water. They create resilience against the water deficiencies Phoenix faces now and in the future.

To further protect against Colorado River shortages, Phoenix entered into an innovative partnership with the City of Tucson several years ago. Phoenix has been storing a portion of its unused Colorado River water in Tucson aquifers. In future times of shortage, the stored water will be recovered for delivery in Tucson. A corresponding portion of Tucson’s Colorado River water will be ordered for delivery to Phoenix water treatment plants in exchange. The agreement benefits both communities and shows how cities are taking the lead on adapting to climate change and drought.

Shortage on the Colorado River does not entail cuts to the community. The City of Phoenix has a robust, successful water conservation program that has been in place since 1986. Instead of implementing government mandates, efforts have been focused on educating customers and providing the tools needed for everyone to do their part. Phoenix was also a founding partner of the regional city Water Use It Wisely program. This water conservation education and outreach program has been successful in large part because of the community. Phoenix’s Water Conservation Ad Hoc Committee has been diligently working to implement the recommendations to further water conservation efforts focused on landscaping requirements and guidelines, codes and enforcement and education and outreach. The recommendations also include adding five additional staff members to assist with implementing the recommendations.

“Phoenicians understand that water is something we need to carefully use and cultivate. We’ve seen people adopt conservation measures such as Xeriscaping and installing high efficiency plumbing into their homes. And that’s translating into a significant reduction in water use,” said Water Resource Management Advisor Cynthia Campbell.

​These proactive steps taken over the past 35 years ensure a sustainable and resilient water supply for Phoenix’s future. However, residents and business still need to do their part and use water wisely and prevent a Phoenix drought. To learn more about Phoenix Water Services, visit p​