Saturday, September 30, 2023 12:11 am

Phoenix mayor clears confusion about order to halt construction relying on groundwater; Rose Law Group Co-founder and Director of Regulatory Law Dept. Court Rich serves up an important tip for landowners

By Holly Bock | AZ Family

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego wants to clear up confusion about the recent Arizona groundwater study that prompted new restrictions on construction in parts of the Valley. It’s been a national story, and the mayor says there are misconceptions about the impact on the city of Phoenix itself.

The city tweeted Monday, “Fact: the city’s water security remains intact.” They are trying to clear up confusion regarding a study from the Phoenix Active Management Area, or AMA. Because Phoenix is in the name, it led to some people thinking there are water concerns with the city itself. However, the mayor says there are no issues, and the study covered all of Maricopa County and even parts of Pinal County.

“The local coverage has been pretty responsible, but there has been some national coverage that really confuses the issue,” Gallego said. “It’s much broader than Phoenix but the national media is sometimes covering it in a way that implies Phoenix does not have that water supply we do.”

Gov. Katie Hobbs said last Thursday the state is pausing new construction on the edges of metro Phoenix that rely on groundwater. Essentially if the land isn’t water-assured for the next 100 years, developers can’t get approval for their projects unless they find their own water source. “The city of Phoenix is not in that situation,” Gallego said.

The Phoenix Active Management area model shows a groundwater shortage of 4.9 million acre-feet over the next 100 years. The confusion at hand here is that Phoenix is in the name of that model, but the city itself says its water supply is intact. Instead, outlying areas across the county could feel the impacts. “We actually store more groundwater than we use, so we are making bank deposit accounts in case we need to withdraw it in a time of a very severe drought,” Gallego explained.


“One consequence of this recent announcement regarding water challenges that many are not thinking about is that I expect many landowners to be rethinking their decisions to enter into the service area of water utilities that cannot provide service. If you own land, it is time to look carefully at whether your utility can actually provide you with service. If not, there are legal mechanisms to extract yourself from those utilities that need to be carefully considered.”  Court Rich, Rose Law Group Co-founder

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June 2023