2 Arizona towns are short on water. Could Phoenix join them?

A look at how SRP manages water resources to meet the demands for a population of over 1.6 million people.

PHOENIX - At more than 1.6 million people, Phoenix has solidified itself as the fifth-largest city in the nation.

Two Arizona towns are under a state of emergency this week due to a water shortage. With the blazing temperatures on display this week, could the city possibly run out of water? 

"We live in the desert. We know that, we plan for that. Drought is normal here," said Jeffrey Lane, a spokesperson for the Salt River Project.

SRP is the largest provider of raw water to the Phoenix metropolitan area and it delivers about a million acre-feet of water every year.

The majority of this water is coming from snowmelt in the Salt River and Verde River watersheds, as well as from the Colorado River. This past winter was a good one and helped replenish the supply. 

What you may not know is that some of our backup supply is stored right under our feet. SRP says one underground storage unit is in east Mesa.

"We've stored a million acre-feet there, that's as much as Roosevelt Lake when it's full," Lane said. 

SRP's water managers say every year they're planning for the worst, which is an 11-year drought. All water decisions are made based on that possibility and resources are managed to ensure supply even in the most demanding of situations.

"In the Phoenix area is the demand of water has gone down in the last 10 to 15 years even though we have more and more people moving here," Lane said.

Experts credit the rise of conservation efforts in recent years for helping decrease demand, but is Phoenix in danger of a water shortage?

"No, we're really in good shape," Lane said. "Geographically, we are lucky we are in an area (where) not only we have water supply from the Salt and Verde rivers, we have groundwater supplies and we have underground supply. We're really in good shape in the Phoenix area."

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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