Colorado River Updates

Arizona Water Company operates 24 water systems across Arizona. These systems range in size from eight connections to over 30,000 connections. Our water supplies include groundwater, Colorado River water (i.e. Central Arizona Project or CAP), and effluent. Each system utilizes one or more of these supplies and impacts due to drought or shortage affect each system differently.

What was the recent announcement regarding the Colorado River?

The federal government announced on August 16, 2022, a Tier 2a shortage on the Colorado River. As a result, Arizona’s entitlement to Colorado River water will be reduced by 21% in 2023. The reduction amounts to 592,000 acre-feet of Arizona’s total 2,800,000 acre-foot entitlement. One acre-foot equals about 326,000 gallons or enough water to supply 3-4 typical Arizona homes for one year.

Who will be impacted by this shortage declaration?

This shortage declaration is expected to affect deliveries of CAP water in Maricopa, Pinal and Pima counties, primarily to agricultural water users. Water providers who deliver potable (drinkable) CAP water to residents and businesses in these counties will likely see very small reductions in 2023. However, most water providers have multiple sources of water to rely on that can offset any reductions in CAP water deliveries.

How does this shortage declaration affect Arizona Water Company customers?

Potable water deliveries to Arizona Water Company customers are not expected to be affected at this time. Arizona Water Company’s primary source of water is groundwater pumped from wells. Arizona Water Company does have multiple contracts to use CAP water which are used to offset our groundwater pumping for most of our water systems located within Maricopa and Pinal counties.

What else is happening related to the Colorado River?

Due to worsening conditions on the Colorado River, the federal government recently asked the seven Basin States (Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, and New Mexico) to develop a plan to conserve 2,000,000 acre-feet or more of additional Colorado River water in 2023. This conservation would require the Basin States to collectively reduce water use so that the conserved water would remain in Lake Mead and Lake Powell. Unfortunately, the Basin States were unable to come to an agreement on additional conservation. It is possible that additional significant reductions of Colorado River use may be imposed throughout the Basin States, including Arizona. This would likely lead to more reductions of CAP deliveries in 2023 in addition to the Tier 2a shortage reductions. At this time, the magnitude of these potential additional CAP reductions is not known.

What is causing the shortage on the Colorado River?

The Colorado River Basin has been in a prolonged drought. We are experiencing the driest conditions in the basin in more than 1,200 years. These conditions are expected to continue well into the future. The resulting reduced Colorado River flows put additional stresses on other water supplies including in-state rivers and groundwater.

Should I conserve water?

Water conservation is an important way to help preserve all of our water resources. In fact, as a state, Arizona uses about as much water today and we did in 1957. This is partially due to conservation efforts throughout the state. We are proud of the efforts of our residents and businesses to conserve water, and we encourage everyone throughout the state to use water wisely. More information on water conservation and water-saving tips can be found at:

Where can I find more information about the shortage?

The Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) and CAP have information on their webpages.

If you have additional questions, please email AWC at: Please provide your name and telephone number so we can respond by telephone if needed.