Some Fast Facts to Know About the Arizona Water Supply

Article originally posted on AZ Big Media on August 25, 2022

Arizona leads the nation with rigorous water conservation efforts, and because of the 1980 Groundwater Management Act, Arizona has the legal and physical infrastructure that maintains a 100-year assured water supply to meet the current and future needs of residents and industry.

• Arizona is currently below 1957 water usage levels due to increased conservation methods and the decrease in water used for agriculture.

• Arizona has five times (5x) more water stored than we use and has never mandated municipal or residential restrictions on uses throughout our state’s history.

• On Monday, Aug. 16, 2021, U.S. officials declared the first-ever water shortage from the Colorado River that will cause Arizona to take an 18% cut starting in 2022. This will not impact municipal or residential uses. Arizona has the junior water position along the Colorado River and that’s been the case since 1968 when the Central Arizona Project was authorized. Because of our long-standing position, we have been prepared for decades and implemented long-term planning and solutions.

Arizona has a multi-faceted portfolio of water supplies with the most advanced program for managing groundwater in the country. Our vast aquifers allow us to access water during times of drought, and we’ve been prepared for decades for shortage declarations.

• It is unfounded to group Arizona in with other Western and Mountain West states when it comes to the shortage along the Colorado River because we’re far less reliant than competitor markets.

• Only 36% of the Arizona water supply is provided by the Colorado River; Nevada is 100% reliant, its California’s predominant water supply at 60% and makes up 30-40% of Colorado’s.

Arizona has 13.2 million acre-feet of water stored in reservoirs as well as underground, with 7.1 million acre-feet of that total stored in Greater Phoenix. Because of the infrastructure in place, we can pull and replace water as needed, making our water supply more resilient during times of drought.

• It’s our cornerstone and what separates us from other Mountain West states.

• California has limited groundwater management infrastructure in place compared to Arizona.

93% of the water that enters the Greater Phoenix waste stream can be reclaimed and treated for potable use and this is a huge differentiator for us.

• Arizona is a national leader when it comes to the reuse of water. California sends more water back to the Pacific Ocean each year than the City of Phoenix uses in total.

Advanced Manufacturing & Data Centers

On average, semiconductor fabs recycle and reuse 75-85% of the water expended during the manufacturing process, with many companies exceeding this mark, and industrial use only accounts for 5% of Arizona’s annual water usage.

Data centers reuse currently sits at roughly 30%, but that doesn’t account for the water supplies that are not consumed at the facilities themselves.

• Data centers are absolutely necessary to Greater Phoenix’s ability to attract investment from advanced back office and security operation centers, and high-tech, advanced manufacturing and semiconductor companies.

• Partners such as SRP and the University of Arizona are working together on studies and solutions around data center water use, reuse and alternative cooling processes that will make these facilities more sustainable in the long-term.

Looking to the Future

The demand side is not insurmountable, but ongoing investment in infrastructure to ensure the availability of natural resources including water is paramount in relation to Greater Phoenix’s ability to attract continued investment from semiconductor and advanced manufacturing firms.

• SRP is working with the Department of Reclamation to modify Bartlett Dam to increase storage capacity to 100,000 acre-feet for utilization, which will service nearly 100,000 people.

• Currently, Roosevelt Dam can capture 3.4 million acre-feet of water, but not all of it is available for use. SRP is working with partners to be able to produce 300,000 acre-feet of water for utilization.