Arizona could have opportunities to import, create more water in the future

Aug 30, 2023, 4:35 AM | Updated: 7:00 am

water concerns...

(Arizona Department of Water Resources Photo)

(Arizona Department of Water Resources Photo)

PHOENIX — As Arizona faces a drought and other water concerns, many municipalities are looking to diversify their existing water portfolios and work towards more conservation in an effort to secure their water futures.

However, there are also some potential ways to bring more new water to Arizona – with some caveats.

Paul Westerhoff is a Regents Professor and the Fulton Chair of Environmental Engineering at Arizona State University. He told KTAR News 92.3 FM importing more water has been discussed.

“People are looking at importing water from the Mississippi River, the Columbia River, the Gulf of California,” he said. “These are big, really expensive infrastructure projects.”

He added these projects would have many complications.

What are the water concerns?

“They would have to go through federal land, state land, tribal land, international borders,” Westerhoff explained. “These are going to be really large and really complex, and they kind of lock us in to a future of more water importation.”

Westerhoff said there are some revolutionary ideas to bring more water to the state.

One is atmospheric water capture, or pulling water out of the air and collecting it for use.

“It’s expensive, and we’re not going to use it in your home, but it turns out the water is really high quality,” Westerhoff said. “We can almost take water out of the atmosphere to make computer chips cheaper than they do it today with tap water.”

That’s because the water used in microelectronic production has to be incredibly clean. It currently goes through an extensive distillation and purification process.

With the chip business growing in Arizona, it’s an intriguing possibility

“I think for these high-quality water applications, atmospheric water capture is one really unique option,” Westerhoff said. “It’s not going to be tomorrow, but we’re thinking shorter time horizon than a pipeline from an ocean, for example.”

Then there’s an even more revolutionary idea: If hydrogen energy becomes widespread in the future, it could create more water in the process.

“If you put [hydrogen] through a fuel cell and make electricity, as long as you have oxygen around in the air your biproduct is water,” Westerhoff explained. “For the amount of energy it takes to run a home, you could make about 10 to 12 gallons of water a day if you were supplied by hydrogen.”

A scenario like this requires a move towards a hydrogen economy. That’s a big “if,” but Westerhoff says thinking big is worth it — at least where the long-term water outlook is concerned.

“Traditionally people have thought about the quantity [of water] as just being pipes, canals, infrastructure,” he said. “But with atmospheric water capture and hydrogen, there’s a new way to think about making water.”

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Mugshots of Dorian Rice, left, and Chase Christman, who have been arrested in connection with three...

Kevin Stone

Another suspect arrested in connection with 3 bodies found after Phoenix apartment fire

A second suspect was arrested Tuesday in connection with three bodies found in the aftermath of a Phoenix apartment fire last week.

34 minutes ago

U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly of Arizona, seen riding the Senate subway on July 23, 2024 in Washington, D.C....

Kevin Stone

Arizona expert explains why Mark Kelly would be strong running mate for Kamala Harris

Sen. Mark Kelly of Arizona would be an ideal running mate for Vice President Kamala Harris in her presidential run, according to a Valley political expert.

2 hours ago

Man who killed three family members sentenced to prison...

Serena O'Sullivan

Phoenix man sentenced to 3 life terms for killing parents, brother

A Phoenix man who killed three family members in their residence was sentenced to three life sentences, MCAO announced on Wednesday.

3 hours ago

File photo of a Valley Metro bus. A pedestrian was killed when he was hit by a city bus in downtown...

Pedestrian struck, killed by city bus he was trying to stop in downtown Phoenix

A pedestrian was killed when he was hit by a city bus in downtown Phoenix on Monday night, authorities said.

5 hours ago

Insomnia in the summer may be due to Arizona heat, doctor says...

Serena O'Sullivan

Struggling with insomnia? Arizona summer heat may be to blame, sleep expert says

Arizonans who are dealing with insomnia in the summer months can blame the heat, according to a sleep expert with Banner Health.

8 hours ago

The Maricopa County Recorder’s Office website is now offering a virtual tour of the Maricopa Coun...

Maricopa County Recorder’s Office website offers self-guided virtual tour of elections center

The Maricopa County Recorder's Office website is now offering a virtual tour of the downtown Phoenix elections center.

8 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.



Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.


DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

Arizona could have opportunities to import, create more water in the future