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Scottsdale drought situation FAQs

What is a drought?

Scottsdale’s Drought Management Plan (the Plan) defines drought as a water shortage that occurs when a source of supply is reduced to a level at which it is unable to support an existing demand condition.

Is the Valley in a drought?

Yes. Drought is a prolonged period of significantly below-average precipitation. The United States Western Region, including Arizona and the Phoenix metropolitan area have been in a drought for more than a decade. Please visit the United States Drought Monitor websitelinks to external site for detailed drought information.

Should I be concerned that the city will run out of water during a drought?

Scottsdale has been proactive in the planning of long-term sustainable water supplies for its community and has secured a diverse and resilient water supply portfolio. These supplies reduce the community’s vulnerability to the risks associated with potential future supply reductions.

What are the water sources for the City of Scottsdale?

Scottsdale’s water portfolio is comprised of three water supplies: the Colorado River through the Central Arizona Project (CAP), Salt and Verde river water delivered through Salt River Project (SRP) and groundwater. CAP and SRP surface water comprises about 88% of the water the City delivers to its customers, while the remaining 12% is groundwater. The City also has a robust supply of reclaimed water or highly treated wastewater, used for landscape watering, thus saving the drinking water supply.

Are water use restrictions in place in Scottsdale?

No. Scottsdale does not have water use restrictions at this time. In accordance with the Drought Plan (the Plan) approved by Council in February 2015, the City will not impose water use restrictions until Stage 2, Moderate Water Shortage, is reached. 

What has Scottsdale done to prepare for dry conditions?

Scottsdale’s water resources Master Plan details a strategic long-term direction emphasizing the increased use of renewable and surface water supplies while reducing groundwater pumping. The City has quadrupled its original CAP supply by purchasing available CAP supplies over the last two decades. Additionally, Scottsdale was the first city in the Valley to institute a dedicated Water Resources Acquisition fee used to purchase CAP water. Every new development in Scottsdale since 1987 has paid this fee.


Scottsdale has been in safe yield since 2007, meaning the amount of water recharged into the ground equals to the amount of groundwater pumped from the aquifer. The City reuses almost 100% of its treated wastewater or reclaimed water, treating it to irrigation standards and delivering it to parks and golf courses for turf irrigation. The City has a state-of-the-art water treatment facility that further treats a portion of the reclaimed water to drinking water standards, and recharges this water into the aquifer. The City also partners with CAP and SRP recharge facilities to store additional water in the aquifer.


The City recharged more than 29,000 acre-feet or 9.51 billion gallons of water into the aquifer in 2014. The City plans to continue to expand its recharge volume within the service area.


Council approved the updated Drought Management Plan (the Plan) in February 2015. The Plan provides a framework for timely responses to a water supply shortage scenario and assists the City in making the necessary decisions throughout the duration of a shortage event. The Plan directs the formation of the Drought Management Team when a shortage event is declared, and consists of two main components: identifying the event that could trigger a supply reduction and the corresponding actions necessary to respond to the event.

are the golf courses using DRINKING WATER?

Scottsdale has developed strategies to minimize the impact golf courses have on our drinking water supplies. The City treats almost 100% of its wastewater at the Water Campus and treats it to irrigation standards. Golf courses pay the associated costs to receive this reclaimed water for irrigation through the Reclaimed Water Delivery System (RWDS), which is the largest reclaimed water delivery system in the Valley.

 Does Scottsdale promote water conservation?

Scottsdale’s Water Conservation Office helps customers learn how to use water wisely. The Conservation staff organizes instructional workshops each spring and fall to help residents reduce water use both inside and outside the home. Conservation staff also performs residential and commercial site visits and provides customers with recommendations on water use reduction. Visit the water conservation website for a menu of available programs and information.

What has Scottsdale done to use water wisely?

Park staff keeps Scottsdale’s parks green and water lean. This means every City-owned park has a water budget and uses water-saving techniques to reach goals. Scottsdale’s water features use recirculating pumps to recycle water and only run during business hours or to minimize water loss through evaporation. Scottsdale employs a certified Green Plumber (trained in water-efficient technologies), and has retrofitted its buildings with water-efficient plumbing devices.