I get asked the question all the time: what is the water situation in Arizona?  Most of my out-of-state clients are curious about water, how much we have, are we running out, the desert landscape of Phoenix, water levels, etc. Below is a short primer I put together for my readers that answers all these questions. I think it’s worth the 3-minute read. 🙂

Call me if you have any additional questions or would like to discuss further.


Arizona Water Scoop

I–Yes, we use less water today than 62 years ago.  This is  because we are taking agriculture land and building houses/commercial buildings.  Every acre that we take out of agriculture, we save water.

II-Agriculture is still 72% of our water usage.

III—Where there is a long term issue and the need for a generational project (see below) is we get 36% of our water from Central Arizona Project (CAP). This is tough because in the order of priority, we are behind CA in getting CAP Water. In 1922, the states and the federal government created the Colorado River compact, which divided the Colorado River Basin into the Upper (Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico) and Lower (Nevada, California, and Arizona) Basin; each basin receiving 7.5 million MAF of water rights entitlements. Based on the agreements of the 1928 Boulder Canyon Project Act, in the lower basin, Nevada, California, and Arizona are entitled to 0.3 MAF, 4.4 MAF, and 2.8 MAF respectively. As a result of Arizona vs California (1968), California holds senior water right priority over Nevada and Arizona. The Upper Colorado River Basin Compact of 1948 defined the apportionment on a percentage basis:  Colorado received 51.75%, New Mexico received 11.25%, Utah received 23%, and Wyoming received 14%. The compact included a clause delivering 50,000 AF to Arizona. Mexico and the US signed the 1944 treaty to share waters of the Colorado and Rio Grande Rivers. As such, Mexico is entitled to 1.5 MAF per year, or lower during extraordinary drought conditions.

IV–Over time, as we continue to grow, we will need to ether take a bunch of ag land out of production (CA is doing this.) or get more water. Desalination from the Gulf of Mexico or water from the air like Zero mass water.

Source of graphs from above: Water Your Facts