Phoenix could cut back on contributing water to conservation plan

Sep 23, 2022, 4:45 AM

PHOENIX — This year, many local governments in Arizona gave up some of their allotted water, and instead contributed it to the 500+ Plan.

Its goal is to conserve an additional 500,000 acre-feet of water per year to benefit Lake Mead. Now, some of the participants aren’t so sure about doing it again in 2023.

The City of Phoenix took part by giving up 35,000 acre-feet of water, according to Water Resource Manager Cynthia Campbell.

However, Campbell told KTAR News 92.3 FM recent cuts to Colorado River water – and uncertainty about how those cuts will be distributed – are causing the city to rethink water usage.

“There are some who have contributed in the past to the 500+ Plan who are not as sure that is a good thing to do,” she said. “In light of the fact that you might not know how much water you’re actually going to get next year.”

She stressed it’s a matter of not wanting to be caught unprepared.

“At some point, the federal government might decide that it’s going to cut – or the seven basin states might to agreement that would compel a cut – that’s much deeper than what we’re expecting in 2023,” Campbell said.

Another issue she brought up was fairness and who is contributing water.

“A number of the folks who participated in 2022 are asking the question of why we’re giving up water when states with much larger allocations, like California, are giving up very little,” she said.

As a result, Campbell said Phoenix’s involvement in the 500+ Plan moving forward hasn’t been decided.

“There’s not been a request for Phoenix to participate in 2023,” she explained, adding that “there was never a commitment one way or the other.”

Despite the potential for unexpected cuts next year, Campbell said Phoenix is still in a good position.

“The City of Phoenix, for well over 50 years, has been amassing a water portfolio that is robust and diverse,” she said.

“Robust in the sense that we’ve always tried to gather up access to water resources that are greater than we actually need… diverse in the sense that we get them from multiple sources.”

She also stressed that while she doesn’t see any cuts for Phoenix residents on the horizon, the city also encourages residents to be conscious of water usage.

“We absolutely want our residents to use water in the most efficient way possible,” she said. “We want them to become much better acquainted with how they use water.”

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Phoenix could cut back on contributing water to conservation plan