Arizona has a water crisis. Here’s what that means for these metro Phoenix cities

Deposit photo

By Alexandra Hardle || The Arizona Republic

The West Valley is at the center of a conversation about water in Arizona. In January, Gov. Katie Hobbs called for the state Department of Water Resources to release a report showing the Hassayampa sub-basin didn’t have as much water as previously thought.

Most cities in the West Valley, including Goodyear, Avondale and Surprise, have a 100-year water designation, but Buckeye — one of the nation’s fastest-growing cities, according to U.S. Census figures — does not. However, the city is working toward that designation, Buckeye Mayor Eric Orsborn has said.

The designation is rigorous to achieve and requires cities to prove to the Arizona Department of Water Resources that they have 100 years’ worth of water.

Local leaders and water experts discussed Buckeye as well as the future of West Valley water March 30 at an event hosted by Leadership West.

Here are eight things you should know about the state’s water crisis and how it will impact the West Valley.

The state mostly uses groundwater

Groundwater accounts for about 41% of water use in the state, while the Colorado River water accounts for 38% and other surface water sources make up 18%.

But Porter said the state will need to find alternative water sources. Groundwater is a nonrenewable source, taking thousands of years to form.  

The Colorado River shortage has 2 causes

Rafters on the Colorado River on March 25, 2023, near Sandy Beach in Moab, Utah.

The Colorado River shortage can largely be attributed to two factors, Porter said.

One of those factors is the drought, with Arizona currently in its 23rd year of drought. But at this point, it may make more sense to attribute it to climate change, Porter said, emphasizing that the state will need to make permanent changes when it comes to water allocation.

Although Arizona has had a rainy year, only about 2% of precipitation recharges aquifers, and about 98% of it evaporates. Arizona Department of Water Resources Director Tom Buschatzke said he hopes that the rainy year will not cause Arizonans to lose momentum when it comes to water conservation.


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