By Maritza Dominguez || The Arizona Republic
Gilbert and Mesa are spending millions of dollars to ensure tap water continues to flow despite diminishing water allocations from the Colorado River,
Both communities have large water infrastructure projects in the works that officials say will help them keep a sustainable water portfolio.
In Mesa, work on a 10.5-mile long pipe will begin to deliver recycled water at twice the rate it currently delivers. Gilbert is undergoing a more than $500 million reconstruction of the North Water Treatment Plant. Both Mesa and Gilbert plan to dig wells in growing areas to gain better access to the groundwater supply.
Their water supplies come from three sources: the Colorado River, the Salt and Verde rivers and groundwater.
Salt and Verde river water rights stay with the land rather than the users, so Mesa and Gilbert are restricted to where the water can be delivered. Colorado River is the water supply that has experts on alert as the water volume has diminished over the past two decades. In Maricopa County, the Central Arizona Project delivers Colorado River water to cities. Groundwater, the lowest percentage of water used in Mesa and Gilbert, comes from the East Salt River Basin.
The central Mesa reuse pipe is tied to a water agreement the city has with the Gila River Indian Community to exchange raw CAP water for recycled water.
Nearly 15 years ago, Mesa began delivering treated wastewater so the tribe could use the recycled water for agricultural uses. In exchange for every 1 acre-foot of water, which serves about three households a year, the city gets 0.8 acre-feet of water.
The city has yearly delivered 10,000 acre-feet of water but now plans to accelerate the volume with the installation of a new 10.5-mile-long pipe that will connect the Northwest Water Reclamation Plant, along Rio Salado Parkway and Dobson Road, to the rest of the city’s system. It will run through central parts of the city within north and central Mesa. With that, it will double what the city delivers to Gila River.