Here’s what KTAR News learned from ‘Water Watch’
PHOENIX — Arizona’s water future is murky.
In a weeklong special report, “Water Watch,” KTAR News 92.3 FM reporters dove into the state’s water usage, effects of an ongoing drought and what can be done to ensure the most water is available in the coming decades.
Here are highlights from the series:
The images are shocking. Areas submerged for decades are now islands.
Lake Mead and Lake Powell, two reservoirs Arizona relies on for its water, are historically low, with each about a third full.
Arizona State University climatologist Randy Cerveny says in addition to climate change, explosive population growth in Arizona and other states rely on water from the Colorado River via Lake Mead and Lake Powell that will present challenges in the future in the Valley.
“The river is so severely allocated that just south of Yuma, every remaining drop is sent to California,” Cerveny said. “It doesn’t reach the Gulf of California anymore. Even if there were to be more extra water that fell on the Colorado Rockies and into the Colorado River, it has already been allocated.
“We will never see those lakes ever go back to the days prior to the drought that we’re in right now.”
Nancy Caywood walks across a field of alfalfa at her family farm in Casa Grande.
Underneath her boots are patches of dry, cracked dirt. The canals on Caywood Farms didn’t get water for months in 2021 because of drought conditions.
“This field went completely dormant,” Caywood said. “It was just crunchy brown to walk out into, and we didn’t know if it would rebound or not.”
You can’t see it, but how we live impacts it and plays a vital role in almost everything that happens in Arizona.
Groundwater is located deep beneath the surface and stored in aquifers, which are porous rock that contain water.
About 40% of the state’s water supply is underground, with that number likely to increase due to reductions in available water from the Colorado River.
An ongoing concern is what would happen if the valuable resource got contaminated.
Rio Verde Foothills has a water problem.
The rural community more than 30 miles northeast of Scottsdale in unincorporated county gets its water come from wells on the property or from water tanks filled by hauling trucks.
For decades, Scottsdale was one of the primary water suppliers for those trucks. That changed last year.
The city announced that by the end of the year, Rio Verde Foothills residents will no longer use Scottsdale as a source for their hauled water.
Arizona was once in a great spot when it came to conserving water, but a drastic population growth has pushed the state into what experts say is an era of limits.
Since the 1950s, the state’s population has grown by more than 550%, according to the Arizona Department of Water Resources.
As a result, leaders are looking for ways to save the states greatest resource.