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Is there enough water to grow Valley cities during population boom amid drought?

Running water
Posted at 5:57 PM, Jul 01, 2021

BUCKEYE, AZ — Buckeye is quickly becoming a destination for homeowners and businesses in Arizona. Projections show that the West Valley community will grow from its current population of 89,000 residents to 305,000 by 2040.

City leaders say that they plan on growing with a smart approach.

“If we're looking at bringing in new employers, we are not going to bid on companies that are going to be high water use employers like a chip manufacturer or something like that,” says Annie DeChance with the City of Buckeye.

As of this year, it mainly relies on one source of water, says Ryan Henn with the City of Buckeye Water Resources Department.

“The City of Buckeye relies almost exclusively on groundwater. That demand for water is increasing and it's only expected to continue as we move into the future decades.”

A key aspect of making groundwater accessible to all is through the Groundwater Management Act of 1980, which ensures that water being pumped out is being equally replaced.

Buckeye replenishes its groundwater with treated wastewater.

However, a concern brought up by the Kyl Center of Water Policy at ASU is a workaround that has weakened the Groundwater Management Act known as the Groundwater Replenishment District.

This allows developers to pump groundwater to supply their communities. In turn, the Central Arizona Project would replenish the groundwater taken out with Colorado River water.

Many subdivisions in the West Valley are enrolled in the Groundwater Replenishment District, including Buckeye.

Sarah Porter with the Kyl Center says that one of the big concerns is that it's getting harder to find water supplies for replenishment.

"This program has proven to be much more popular than anyone imagined. There's every reason to think that it will become more and more challenging for CAP to find the water."

With the looming shortage on the Colorado River, that issue is becoming more crucial, but Henn says the City of Buckeye is working on its portfolio.

"We'll be entering into a contract to acquire 908 million gallons of non-Indian agricultural water that will be delivered through the Central Arizona Project. That delivery will start in 2022.”

The delivery may be cut in half if the shortage declaration happens, but even if it does, Henn says the city is in good shape for the future.

“With all cities as they grow, you go through these growing pains where you have to transition and create that more diversified water portfolio. That's something that we're keenly aware of and our staff works every day diligently to make sure that we're exploring those opportunities and bringing that water online,” Henn says.