Colorado River Shortage

colorado river tier reductions

Colorado River Update - May 2022 (PDF)

Tier 2a

This August, the Bureau of Reclamation declared a Tier 2a for the Colorado River system for calendar year 2023. While normally this would give Scottsdale clarity on its water management for the coming year, the city is awaiting a decision by the federal government on further reductions to the state’s water supply from the Colorado River.

These measures are due to historic drought, climate change, and over-allocation, where conditions on the Colorado River are worsening quicker than anticipated, bringing challenges and new pressures to water utilities across Arizona. To ensure the reliability of Scottsdale’s water supply, the city continues to plan for a future with less water and evaluate what additional steps will be necessary with deeper levels of shortage.

Conservation actions are more vital than ever as pressures on our water supplies increase. Conservation enables Scottsdale to maximize and stretch its water supplies - a crucial component when dealing with the consequences of a historic drought and shortages.


  • In a normal year, a Tier 2a would keep Scottsdale in Stage One of its Drought Management Plan. However, more cuts are expected to be announced by the federal government before 2023. Once these decisions are made public, Scottsdale will evaluate its processes and procedures to determine the best course of action for the city and its residents.

In February 2022, a new UCLA-led study found that the past 22 years have been the driest in at least 1,200 years for the southwest in North American – calling it a megadrought. Arizona in particular is in a severe to extreme drought according to the NOAA Climate Prediction Center.

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 2a shortage. But, this is a unique situation. While normally this would give Scottsdale clarity on its water management for the coming year, the city is awaiting a decision by the federal government on further reductions to the state’s water supply from the Colorado River.

At this time, no mandatory restrictions are in place. Instead, Scottsdale asks all residents and businesses to voluntarily cut their water usage - by at least five percent. Conservation actions are more vital than ever as pressures on our water supplies increase. Conservation enables Scottsdale to maximize and stretch its water supplies - a crucial component when dealing with the consequences of a historic drought and shortages.

Residents and businesses do not have to wait for the federal announcement to start saving on water. With up to 70% of Scottsdale’s water use occurring OUTDOORS, here are easy ways to help conserve our precious water resource:

• Do not overseed your lawn. The easiest way to save water (for those with grass) is to do nothing – literally. By not overseeding, you can save thousands of gallons of water each month this fall.

 

• Convert grass to desert-friendly landscape - Scottsdale will even help with the cost. Check out our increased rebates now to qualify.

 

• Inquire about an Outdoor Water Efficiency Check – to learn how to better manage your irrigation and water use

 

• Check for leaks – many irrigation systems run at night or when people are not home, so leaks are not always detected and can lead to huge water wastes

 

• Learn about more ways to save at Water Use It Wisely or find out if you are using too much water with the Water Use Calculator

 

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.

July 2022, Lake Mead

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Contact Information

Scottsdale Water Resources
9312 N 94th St
Scottsdale, AZ 85258  
P: 480-312-5650

WaterOperations-CustomerService@ScottsdaleAZ.gov

Office Hours

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

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