Until 1887, Tucson residents purchased water for a penny a gallon from vendors who transported it in bags draped over burro's backs. After that, water was sold by the bucket or barrel and delivered door-to-door in wagons.
In 1881 the privately-owned Tucson Water Company began operating and delivering the first piped water into town. The water was pumped from a well on the banks of the Santa Cruz River and flowed by gravity into the distribution system.
On July 24, 1900, the City of Tucson purchased the Tucson Water Company for $110,000.
Today, Tucson Water serves nearly 709,000 customers within a 350 square-mile area. The infrastructure required to meet customer demand includes 4,300 miles of delivery pipelines, 65 storage facilities capable of storing nearly 280 million gallons, and the efforts of 470 full-time employees.
Tucson Water's mission is to "ensure that its customers receive high quality water and excellent service in a safe, reliable, efficient, and environmentally responsible manner" today and in the future.
Tucson's water resources plan identifies four major water resources for study and development over a 110-year planning period: water conservation, Central Arizona Project (CAP) water, effluent (treated wastewater), and groundwater.
In 1992, Tucson Water delivered CAP water to some customers that was unacceptable. This problem led Tucson to modify its water resources plan to allow more study of the best use of CAP water in our community. While we remain dependent on groundwater, Tucson Water is making use of CAP water by selling it to local farmers, and operates several recharge projects to augment our groundwater supply.
Tucson's future depends on the wise use of water - our most precious natural resource. Tucson Water works with the Mayor and Council, its customers, and State and Federal regulatory agencies to ensure that we use all our water resources to the best benefit of all.
For more information on Tucson's water history, visit the following links: