The state is mired in a two-decade-long drought, but most Surprise residents wouldn’t even know the difference judging by their normal water consumption.
“Nobody is getting their water shut off tomorrow, right?” joked District 5 Councilman Jack Hastings at an April 20 work session discussion over drought preparedness. “We’re not going to get any calls of showers cutting off halfway through or anything like that?”
The answer is no, said Surprise Water Resource Management Assistant Director Michael Boule.
That’s despite the Arizona Department of Water Resources and Central Arizona Project officials issuing a joint news release last month that warned the state would be moved into another drought tier that would bring water reductions for CAP customers.
A “Tier 1” declaration has been threatened for the last decade. That’s when Lake Mead, the reservoir that drives the CAP system, drops to 1,075 feet above sea level.
When that happens Arizona’s annual allotment would be reduced by 512,000 acre feet. An acre foot is equal to 326,000 gallons, which could flood a football field.
The bureau updates a 24-month study each month to determine how much snowpack runoff will be coming to the major reservoirs.
Based on the April study it appears very likely that the bureau will declare a Tier 1 shortage for next year, said Lisa Atkins, a member of the Central Arizona Water Conservation District Board of Directors.
But Surprise residents can be assured of the city’s water supply, Mr. Boule said
“A Tier 1 shortage declaration will have no effect on Surprise’s water allocation or its deliveries to customers,” he said. “Although there will be no immediate impact to municipal water supplies, Surprise remains committed to water resource management and its water conservation measures. We recognize this is an opportunity to increase water conservation awareness.”
But even though the state as a whole will be affected by the drought next year, Surprise residents probably won’t know the difference.
“Shortage on the Colorado River does not mean shortage for Surprise’s customers at the tap,” Mr. Boule said.
Ms. Atkins said a “Tier 1” designation would be the first ever on the Colorado River if it happens.
It’s not hard to see why.
Between April 1 and April 27, Surprise only had 0.07 inches of rain.
Maricopa County is down 0.71 inches of rain from normal this year. It’s already the 44th driest year on record.
For Arizona as a whole, last year was the second driest calendar year ever and its driest since 1956.
If a shortage comes, it will result in a substantial cut to Arizona’s share of the river, falling largely to central Arizona agricultural users.
“These impacts are painful,” Ms. Atkins told the Surprise City Council during a virtual presentation at the April 20 work session.
Mr. Boule said Surprise would not experience cuts to its supply…
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