Phoenix and Tempe implement drought plans, ask people to conserve water

Jun 2, 2022, 4:15 AM | Updated: 9:46 am
(Pexels Photo)...
(Pexels Photo)
(Pexels Photo)

PHOENIX — The cities of Phoenix and Tempe are asking people to conserve water after each implemented a drought plan on Wednesday.

Phoenix declared a Stage 1 Water Alert and Tempe activated Stage 0 of its Drought Preparedness Plan amid a shortage at the Colorado River.

Neither requires residents to conserve water, but city officials are asking people to do their part as it could help availability in the future as well as save money on their bills.

“(The Stage 1 Water Alert) definitely changes the way the city is using water, we’re taking a much closer look at how we use water and ways that we can become more efficient because we are the largest water customer in the city,” Cynthia Campbell, water resources management advisor for the city of Phoenix, told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

“For the resident, what we are asking them to do, is consider learning more about where their water comes from and how they can use it most efficiently.”

The Colorado River supplies roughly 40% of Phoenix’s water, the city said in a press release.

While Campbell said it will probably be several years before the city faces a significant problem, officials are looking for residents to help conserve water now as it may help cover any gaps in the case of a shortfall.

“We would like to get customers on board as soon as possible to start to recognize that we’re going down a road where we’re … going to have less water available to us and we need to pull back a little bit and start to re-think some of the ways we use water,” she said.

One way Campbell advises people to save water is to cut back on how much is being used in yards. She said people can text “whentowater” to 33222 to get a report every month that tells people how much water to use on lawns, shrubs or trees. The information, which is based on the current month, is to keep the plants alive but not to overuse water.

The activation of Tempe’s plan includes frequent drought status updates and water conservation recommendations, as well as monitoring forecasts for watersheds that provide Tempe’s water supply and initiating the use of reclaimed water.

“What we’re saying at this point is that Tempe residents should continue to advance their efforts in voluntary conservation,” Craig Caggiano, Tempe water resources manager, told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

“If you think you can increase your conservation efforts at your home, or at your business, we have numerous programs and a 20-plus-year history of success with those programs in saving people water and money.”

More information on available water conservation programs can be found on the city’s website.

Caggiano added the city is starting the drought management plan at Stage 0 since the primary source of its water supply comes from the Salt River Project, which he said is not forecasting reductions to its supplies and is fundamentally different than the Colorado River.

Meanwhile, Campbell said if Phoenix reaches Stage 2 of the drought management plan, it would give the director of water services additional authority to coerce people to use less.

She hopes it doesn’t get to Stage 2 but admitted it may be out of their control based on the condition of the Colorado River.

Officials said last month the Colorado River Basin is seeing the driest conditions in more than 1,200 years, while Lake Powell was at 24% capacity and Lake Mead was at 31% capacity.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Kate Ourada and Luke Forstner contributed to this report. 

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Phoenix and Tempe implement drought plans, ask people to conserve water