2050 Water Goals
The city of Phoenix provides drinking water to more than 1.5 million people within our 540 square-mile service area. Phoenix is committed to providing the highest quality drinking water and service to our customers.
The 2050 goal, essentially a perpetual one, is to provide a clean and reliable 100-year supply of water. The City of Phoenix has been proactive over the last century building the necessary infrastructure and systems to provide a clean and reliable supply of water for the foreseeable future. Phoenix's water management is exemplified through its water conservation programs (in partnership with "Water, Use It Wisely") and through three action areas of which it has been a long-established national leader:
Groundwater Management: Supported by the nation-leading Groundwater Management Act of 1980, Phoenix is a net-positive contributor to groundwater using only 2/3 of its allocation from the Colorado River and diverting the other 1/3 toward groundwater recharge.
Wastewater Management: Phoenix recycles an amazing 90% of its wastewater for uses, such as irrigation and cooling for the Palo Verde Nuclear Plant. Phoenix also captures methane emissions from wastewater treatment and is currently building a facility to generate renewable natural gas from the wastewater treatment for use in vehicles.
Water and Wastewater Innovation: Phoenix is an established leader in water innovation and was recognized recently for three innovative projects: the $6 million annual Colorado Water Resiliency Fund, the "Tucson-Exchange" where Phoenix stores water resources underground in Tucson to be used during low water years, and the Tres Rios Wetlands--where treated wastewater undergoes a final polishing through a constructed wetlands creating a vibrant ecosystem.
Future innovation will focus on building additional storage capacity, upgrading infrastructure to improve resilience, and reducing system leakage by employing best practice tools for water management.
What are we doing now?
The city, which produces about 110 billion gallons of water annually, tests it for nearly 200 substances and continuously monitors it to ensure that it meets the rigorous standards set by government regulators.
Phoenix has exceeded the sustainability requirements of the State of Arizona. The city reduced its groundwater usage to a minimum and is planning for a sustainable yield, as well as its assured 100-year supply, under conditions of long-term drought and global climate change — not just under normal conditions.
Water Resources and Conservation
Phoenix has had an ample water supply for many years, but we encourage our users to conserve water every day. Phoenix uses the same volume of water today as it did in the 1950's over the past 20 years, Phoenix's per person water usage has dropped 20 percent. Total water use in Phoenix averages what it was 10 years ago. Water conservation is promoted as a lifestyle in Phoenix and we encourage customers to think about water every time they use it. Through these efforts and as we plan for the future, Phoenix water supplies continue to keep pace with demand.
Water Resource Planning
Phoenix's diverse water supply portfolio, greater conservation and efficient management of supplies combine to minimize the impact of drought on customers. However, with a growing population and the possibility of impacts from climate change, facing the droughts of the future could be a tough challenge. The 2011 Water Resources Plan looks ahead and addresses the risks and potential challenges the city may face in the coming decades. The city continues to be a leader in water management with innovative, proactive efforts to ensure Phoenix's water supply is sustainable and resilient in the face of drought with the establishment of the Colorado River Resiliency Fund and a regional partnership with Tucson for water storage.
Colorado River Resiliency Fund
A Colorado River Resiliency Fund was established in 2014 with an average of about $5.5 million a year. The fund will allow the city to, among other things; take part in sharing wells with local water utility partners and to store the city's unused Colorado River water in underground recharge facilities. The city also could use the fund for shortage-year lease options with users who hold higher-priority waters rights on the Colorado River, as well as for future expansion of the Colorado River System Conservation Program. The new resiliency fund will act as a kind of insurance policy against shortages. The bulk of it will come from refinancing some outstanding Water Services Department debt at a lower interest rate and be part of department's capital improvement fund.
Phoenix-Tucson Water Storage Regional Partnership
Phoenix entered into unprecedented agreements with the City of Tucson and the Metropolitan Domestic Water Improvement District in Tucson to store some of its unused Colorado River water in Tucson aquifers — water that Phoenix would otherwise lose and see go to another water user. Under the agreements, during future shortages on the Colorado, the City of Tucson and Metro Water will pump the stored water out of their aquifers and deliver it to their customers. In exchange, both Tucson water providers will order a portion of their Colorado River water for delivery to Phoenix water treatment plants, and ultimately, Phoenix customers. The regional partnership aims to increase the reliability of Phoenix's Colorado River water supply over the long term, while providing near-term benefits to aquifers in Pima County by increasing their groundwater levels.
Lake Pleasant Water Treatment Plant
The city also incorporates other sustainability best practices into its operations and recently installed a 7.5 megawatt solar voltaic system at the Lake Pleasant Water Treatment Plant. The facility generates 70 percent of the plant's electrical needs.