By Brandon Loomis | Arizona Republic
The groundwater aquifers currently serving 4.6 million people across metro Phoenix are lagging behind growth on a trajectory that would run just short of projected needs in 100 years, according to a new state groundwater model released Thursday by Gov. Katie Hobbs. As a result, the state’s water agency will stop approving new development that relies solely on groundwater.
The model estimates future supply and demand for the Phoenix Active Management Area, a zone that includes most of the metro area, where the state’s groundwater law requires the Department of Water Resources to certify that new homes have a safe 100-year water supply before they can be built. Based on the new model, some potential developments would fail that test.
The change does not affect existing homeowners, and officials stressed that major cities including Phoenix have ample supplies and can continue to grow. Hobbs also noted that about 80,000 unbuilt lots already are approved and can go forward.
“If we do nothing, we would face a 4% shortfall in groundwater supply over the next 100 years,” Hobbs said. In an effort to reverse that trend, she said $40 million in repurposed federal COVID-19 recovery funds will go toward a new ADWR-administered fund, the Arizona Water Resiliency Fund, to promote groundwater conservation and seek sustainable water supplies.
Still, she said, Arizona and the Phoenix area will continue to grow. Most cities have diverse water supplies with room to keep building. “We are not out of water and we will not be running out of water,” Hobbs said.
Rose Law Group Founder and President Jordan Rose: “This is precisely what ADWR did in Pinal County a few years ago. We just worked with them to find both immediate and longer term solutions to allow for smart growth to continue to occur and that is what we plan to do here also.”