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Where does your water come from? A look at Glendale's water supply

Grand Canyon Colorado River
Posted at 6:55 PM, Nov 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-11 20:55:32-05

GLENDALE, AZ — The worsening shortage on the Colorado River means the progressive loss of water for Valley cities.

In 2023, the river will be in a Tier 2a drought. For Glendale, that means it will lose 170-acre feet of its lower priority water.

That's enough to supply 510 average households in the city for about one year.

In the grand scheme of things, it's less than one percent of the city's allotment, but Glendale Water Resource Manager Drew Swieczkowski expects the deficits will only get bigger from here.

"We actually have a plan up to 75% of loss of our CAP (Central Arizona Project) water of things that we can do to make sure that our citizens are still getting the water that they need for everyday life," Swieczkowski told ABC15.

That scenario is likely a few years away, but it would be significant.

Colorado River water delivered through CAP accounts for 22% of the city's overall water supply.

Sixty-two percent comes from the Salt and Verde Rivers via Salt River Project.

Seven percent is reclaimed water, and the remaining 9% comes from groundwater.

"We've been planning for the shortage for a long time. We know it's a natural system. So, we want the resiliency, we want the redundancy," he said.

The city said it has four and a half years' worth of recharged water saved in the aquifer for times of drought.

Because of the situation on the Colorado, Glendale officials declared its stage 1 drought plan back in June.

"Our stage one has a 5% mandatory savings for city facilities for city departments. We have a 5%, ask of our citizens that's voluntary."

Mandatory cuts for residents would not start until stage 3 of the drought plan and Swieczkowski says that could include restrictions on watering lawns.

"We might go to a schedule. There are some restrictions on watering or washing off your sidewalk unless it's for medical or emergency purposes," he said.

ABC15 asked why the city isn't implementing these measures now, despite seeing the situation that is coming.

Especially when compared to a city like Las Vegas which relies on the Colorado River for 90% of its water supply and imposes heavy restrictions on its use.

"We have multiple supplies, and our portfolio is much fuller," he said. "I think Las Vegas went to some of those drastic measures because they almost have to, you know, because of of their water situation."

But the cuts to the Colorado River aren't done yet.

By next year the seven states that use the river, Arizona, Nevada, California, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and Wyoming, must figure out how to conserve two-to-four-million-acre feet just to stabilize the system.

That's above and beyond already agreed-upon cuts from the 2019 Drought Contingency Plan.

"I would say you know; Glendale is in a pretty good position for that. We've planned for it. Do I want it to happen? Definitely not. But do I think it's necessary? When you look at the science of the river, when you look at where it's going, you look at the trends, you look at the modeling that's been done on the Colorado River, we really think that it needs to be done," Swieczkowski said.

It's a loss of an extraordinary amount of water that could very well become the new normal.

"I think it's going to take a new mentality. You know, we're not Michigan, we're not New Hampshire. We don't have all that water. But I think Arizonans are very resilient folks."