Hoover Dam, as seen from the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge. Lake Mead is shown in the distance, with the Colorada River in the foreground. (Photo by Jordan Evans, Cronkite News)
Here’s how Phoenix is increasing efforts to shore up Lake Mead
Mayor Kate Gallego and members of the Phoenix City Council today agreed to leave an additional 14,000 acre-feet (AF) of Colorado River water in Lake Mead. It is part of the 500+ Plan, an organized effort to stop the reservoir’s decline to an even lower and more dangerous level.
An acre-foot is the amount of water necessary to flood one acre of land to a depth of one foot. It is roughly equivalent to 326,000 gallons, or the amount used by about 3.5 Arizona homes over the course of one year.
The goal of the 500+ Plan is to leave 500,000 AF of water in Lake Mead every year through 2026. The Gila River Indian Community (GRIC), the City of Tucson, and other communities across the region, and the state, have agreed to be part of the solution by making their own contributions.
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Mayor Kate Gallego thanked GRIC Governor Stephen Roe Lewis for his leadership in bringing stakeholders together.
“In this time of extreme drought, it is not easy to convince governments to leave water behind,” said Mayor Kate Gallego. “However, I believe we are all acutely focused on what it will take to help Arizona communities thrive for the long term. In Phoenix, that means we make reasonable sacrifices now, to ensure we can continue to welcome people who want to live here, as well as the businesses that want to set up shop here.”
Mayor Gallego added, “It is also true that cities and Indian communities cannot solve this issue on our own. We need to see proportional action across sectors – particularly agriculture, which uses 70% of available Colorado River water.”
The City of Phoenix made its first contribution to the 500+ Plan in January of this year, committing to forego delivery of approximately 16,000 AF. With today’s action, Phoenix will have contributed a total of 30,000 AF. Phoenix will receive about $7.8 million for leaving water in Lake Mead. Those funds will be placed in the city’s Water Revenue Fund to help purchase water from other sources and fund conservation programs.
The City of Phoenix has been working for years to prepare for and deal with the extended drought. Water users in Phoenix consume 30% less water per capita than they did 30 years ago, even as the city has experienced dramatic population growth over the same period.
“We need that conservation trend to continue,” the Mayor said. “But as the drought stretches on, we are constantly looking for ways to be even better stewards of our most precious resource.”
Phoenix, Arizona is the fifth largest city in the United States. With a population of 1.7 million, it is also the fastest growing big city in the nation. For more information about Phoenix and services available through the city, please visit phoenix.gov.