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CAP: Desalination may be key to Valley’s water future

PHOENIX — The Valley gets much of its water from the Colorado River but the supply from that river may dwindle in the future and the state may have to search for other ways to quench the thirst of residents.

The Central Arizona Project takes water from the Colorado River and distributes it throughout much of Arizona, including Phoenix and Tucson. But the river is drying up and no longer reaches the Gulf of California. It’s been named one of America’s 13 most endangered rivers by “American Rivers.”

“We know the Colorado has less flow in it than it did when it was allocated to seven states,” said David Modeer, general manager of the Central Arizona Project. “That, in turn with growth and needs for it in industry and agriculture, means there is less water to go around to everybody.”

Modeer said Arizona needs more sources for water. One could come from localized desalination.

“That means taking out of water that is brackish or contaminated,” Modeer said.

Arizona has some areas where the water is like that. Modeer said that a lot of it can be found in the Buckeye and Yuma areas.

“There’s a lot of highly saline water,” he said. “It’s not as much as ocean water, but, still, it’s more than you would use directly

“We can build desalination plants at not a real high cost compared to desalinating ocean water, and use that to supplement our supplies in the Phoenix metropolitan area and even on down to Tucson.”

Modeer said that a long-term project to desalinate water from the Gulf of California could help Arizona’s water supply for the next 30 to 50 years, but that would require an agreement between Arizona and Mexico.