Maricopa Ag Center official warns of further water cuts

By Kimlye Stager | PinalCentral

As water distribution in Pinal County gets cut back due to drought mitigation, Maricopa residents might not have much to worry about at the moment, but local agriculture does.

Jeffrey Silvertooth, a University of Arizona professor and extension specialist in agronomy/soil science at the Maricopa Agricultural Center, said it’s important for people in the community and city to know right now that none of the water reductions will hit municipal or industrial users.

That’s as long as the Colorado River shortages remain in Tier 1, as it is right now.    

When they hit Tier 2 or 3, then it might affect the community and city, but it’s not to that point yet. Tier 2 has two parts: A and B. The first part is at 1,050 feet of water elevation at Lake Mead, and the second part is at 1,045 feet. Tier 3 is at 1,025 feet.

Silvertooth said the Bureau of Reclamation predicted by July 2023, it’ll hit Tier 2 reductions, though possibly sooner than that. 

According to the Central Arizona Project, the Tier 1 reductions would be about 30% their normal supply, about 18% of Arizona’s Colorado River supply and less than 8% of Arizona’s total water use.

Silvertooth said right now with Tier 1 water reductions are being handled through CAP and agriculture is “taking the hit on this one.” 

According to the CAP website, it is Arizona’s “single largest resource for renewable water supplies.” It delivers to Pima, Pinal and Maricopa counties, which serves over 5 million people or over 80% of Arizona’s population.

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