Colorado River Shortage

colorado river tier reductions

Tier 1

For the first time ever, an official Colorado River Tier 1 Shortage was declared for calendar year 2022. The announcement came from the Bureau of Reclamation in August based on projections for Lake Mead water levels for January. The shortage declaration means reduced water for some stakeholders who receive water from the Central Arizona Project (CAP); those stakeholders who receive a portion of their water from CAP include municipalities, agriculture, tribes, and others.

While Scottsdale Water receives approximately 70% of its water supply from the Colorado River via CAP, only a very small percentage will be reduced at this tier of the shortage.

  • Municipalities, Tribes, and Industrial water right holders will NOT be cut in a Tier 1 Shortage
  • Scottsdale Water will continue to deliver its normal water supply to its customers
  • Scottsdale Water will evaluate implementing Stage 1 of its Drought Management Plan where water conservation awareness efforts will increase
  • Commercial and residential fill stations may be shut down or restricted to those users residing outside Scottsdale’s municipal boundary

According to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, Arizona is in an Extreme Drought. The Colorado River Basin, which supplies the water to CAP, received lower than normal snowfall during the 2020-2021 winter season, leading to less water runoff in the Rocky Mountains, and thus less water in the Colorado River. The Colorado River system is in a 20-plus year drought that continues to stress the system. Ultimately, long-term drought and climate change means less Colorado River water available to Arizona.

As a resident or business within the Scottsdale city limits, there will be no immediate changes. The majority of Scottsdale’s CAP water allocation will not be cut in a Tier 1 shortage. Scottsdale Water has planned for this event for decades by investing millions of dollars into its infrastructure, executing a diverse water resource portfolio, and creating a robust conservation program. But even with planning, Scottsdale residents and businesses are urged to maximize conservation efforts to ensure long term resiliency.

No. Residents and businesses are not affected in a Tier 1 Shortage and will not be restricted on their water use at this time. Scottsdale’s Drought Management Plan does not affect an individual water user until a Tier 2 Shortage is declared. Should a Tier 2 be declared, Scottsdale will evaluate the need and potential to implement restrictions. However, conservation is always encouraged and highly recommended to preserve this precious natural resource; better conservation practices today will lead to more water in the future.

Scottsdale Water has had the vision to plan and protect our water resource for the future. Not only does Scottsdale have one of the most advanced reclaimed water facilities in the US, but is increasing water storage capacity in our aquifers, investing in automated meter readers to empower customers to reduce water use, and is expanding conservation programs to inspire citizens to conserve more. Every drop matters and it starts in Scottsdale.

Colorado River Forecast

The US Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) both monitors and declares any shortages for the Colorado River. Below is latest information and projections by the BOR for Colorado River levels at Lake Mead.

colorado-river-shortage-BOR-graphic-OCT 

More Information

Contact Information

City of Scottsdale - Scottsdale Water
9312 N. 94th St.
Scottsdale, AZ 85258 
P: 480-312-5650 
F: 480-312-5663

WaterOperations-CustomerService@ScottsdaleAZ.gov

Office Hours

Monday through Friday
7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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