Arizona is bracing for a historic water shortage. Here’s where water rates are rising and by how much

Lake Mead Water Level from Hoover Dam /Adobe Stock

By Joshua Bowling | Arizona Republic

Arizona leaders are bracing for a historic Colorado River shortage in 2022. It won’t leave your tap dry, but several Phoenix-area cities are increasing water rates ahead of the shortage.

Water buffalos — the experts, wonks and gadflies of the water world — in Valley city halls say the impending shortage isn’t solely to blame for the increases. They also cite the costs that come with repairs to aging infrastructure in older parts of town and installing new infrastructure in younger parts of town where growth has exploded. Cities won’t directly lose Colorado River water in the upcoming shortage, but they will pay more for it.

The shortage would slash Arizona’s “excess pool,” which has long been used to fuel growth in some of the Valley’s farthest reaches, and could significantly cut into the water supply used by Pinal County farmers. That water will instead be kept in Lake Mead, which provides much of Arizona’s water.

While that won’t directly hit cities, it will make the remaining water pricier, Peoria Water Services Director Cape Powers said.

“Shortage on the Colorado River will not impact our water supplies. (But) we’re going to see higher costs,” he said, adding that Peoria is prepared to spend an extra $1 million next year on Colorado River water.

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