Sensationalist media would have us believe that our home state is running out of water. A common criticism of Phoenix is that we use a significant amount of water for aesthetic purposes, but there’s a lot to know before passing judgment. Why is it that when other states are clamping down on water usage, Arizona gets by without rationing or imposing reduction measures on local residents? Let’s take a look.
Throughout history, necessity leads to innovation. Rivers and streams provide a great deal of our water, but we’ve got a few tricks up our sleeve. Phoenix, unlike most other cities, has access to four water sources. These include in-state rivers and streams, Colorado River, treating reclaimed water, and the operation of groundwater wells. Since 1994, Arizona Water Banking Authority and municipalities, have stored more than 3 million acre-feet of reclaimed water. This water is stored in aquifers, and is intended to be used during periods of water shortages or drought.
Through thoughtful water laws and conservation practices, Arizona uses the same amount of water as we did in 1957. The current laws require for developers and municipalities to prove the availability of a 100-year assured water supply to each development. The 1980 Groundwater Management act has resulted in the rising of groundwater levels in certain areas of Metro Phoenix.
So despite our man-made lakes, beautiful golf courses, swimming pools, and water features, we’re actually doing pretty well for ourselves. As long as we continue to innovate and stay mindful of how we use and reuse our water, we’re better prepared than most.