Living in a desert community means that Tucsonans can never take our water resources for granted. The southwestern United States has been in the midst of a long-term drought for a number of years, and no one knows how long this long dry period may last.
In response to the continuing drought, the State of Arizona passed a law in 2005 that required all Arizona water systems to develop a drought preparedness and response plan and submit it to the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) by January 1, 2007.
Tucson Water developed a Drought Response Plan that includes specific drought indicators and actions the Utility and its customers can take based upon the level of drought response needed, our use of both groundwater and Colorado River water, the attributes of our water system, and how our customers actually use water.
It is important to recognize that drought impacts to water supplies typically do not occur without warning, particularly for a water system such as Tucson's. With proper planning, Tucson Water may avoid experiencing a water crisis as a result of drought.
Tucson Water's Plan includes four drought response stages. Once Stage 1 has been declared for Tucson Water's service area, progression through Stages 2, 3, and 4 will be declared based on threats to Tucson Water's Colorado River supplies and/or local system indicators that indicate negative impacts to the Utility's groundwater supplies.
- Stage 1 — Will be declared based on regional indicators such as a severe and sustained drought on the Colorado River and/or a State declaration of drought in the Tucson region;
- Stage 2 — Will be declared if an initial shortage (i.e., a shortage that does not affect municipal uses) is declared on the Colorado River, or if local system factors require additional response actions;
- Stage 3 — Will be declared based on limited reductions in CAP deliveries to the City or if local system factors require additional response actions;
- Stage 4 — Will be declared based on additional reductions in CAP deliveries to the City or if local system factors require additional response actions.
The more a drought affects our ability to deliver water, the more stringent the responses must become. Tucson Water's Drought Plan includes some of the following recommended actions.
- Public education on drought issues;
- Modify water system operations;
- City departments identify water-saving and water efficiency measures for all City facilities;
- Possible additional measures may include: voluntary self-audit programs for commercial, multi-family and industrial users.
- Additional public education and additional system or operational actions;
- Prohibit public fountains and other non-essential uses within City operations;
- City departments implement water-saving and efficiencies identified in Stage 1 audits;
- All potable water users requested to make additional voluntary reductions;
- Mandatory self-audits required for commercial, multi-family, and industrial users;
- Irrigation restrictions required for commercial, multi-family, and industrial customers.
- Mandatory water reductions by all potable water users; and
- Plumbing retrofit on resale for residential, commercial, multi-family, and industrial users.
- Implement the City's Emergency Water Conservation Ordinance;
- Non-essential outdoor water use restricted or prohibited;
- Restaurants provide water only upon request;
- Outdoor misting systems in public areas prohibited;
- No filling of swimming pools, fountains, spas or other exterior water features;
- Car Washes only at facilities that recycle water, except for emergency vehicles; and
- Additional response actions may be developed if warranted.