My View: Partnerships and improved infrastructure critical to Arizona's water resiliency

The executive and CEO are urging businesses and lawmakers to work together to find long-term solutions to Arizona's water needs.

My View: Partnerships and improved infrastructure critical to Arizona's water resiliency

As the snow melts, many Valley residents have seen water flowing in Salt River.

This winter, as the state continues its struggle with Colorado River shortages, and a persistent drought, the SRP reservoir system has provided water for about 2.5 million Valley residents.

SRP reservoirs along the Verde River and Salt River have or soon will reach their full capacity due to the storms and runoff that occurred this winter. SRP customers can get three years' worth of water from full reservoirs.

SRP released water in March from its dams to the Salt River. The Salt River is normally dry and runs from East Valley, through Tempe Town Lake, into West Valley. These releases will likely continue into April.

SRP's flood operations place safety and protection of human life and infrastructure at the top of the list. SRP's releases are managed to make sure that the reservoir system is able to safely handle the runoff anticipated to enter its reservoirs in the spring.

Bartlett Dam's capacity is in the spotlight

SRP has actively pursued infrastructure alternatives in order to address issues such as sedimentation, storage and reliability of the Verde River. The year 2023 has also reinforced the need for increased storage capacity.

A group of 23 partners including agricultural, municipial, and tribal organizations have committed to working with the Bureau of Reclamation to conduct a feasibility study of possible options for modifying Bartlett Dam in order to increase its storage capacity and manage water resources more efficiently provided by the Verde River.

SRP also works with the Bureau of Reclamation, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on evaluating options to extend release periods for water within the Roosevelt Dam flood-control space. SRP and its partners would have more time to use the water or store it underground to use later, rather than releasing the water into the Salt River.

The Valley is unique in its water supply. It has more than any other community of the Southwest. These include surface water from lakes and rivers as well as groundwater and renewable water sources stored underground for future pumping. They also include water from the Colorado River that is delivered to the Central Arizona Project Canal and reclaimed waste water.

The Salt and Verde Reservoir systems, unlike the Colorado River, are almost in balance. This is because the annual demand and supply are close.

Collaborative conservation efforts

We must continue to invest in infrastructure for our long-term prosperity as Arizona closely monitors the Colorado River water shortage and we learn what innovations our state is planning, such as the Arizona Water Banking Authority.

Arizona's future sustainability depends on the continued allocation of state funds to our water infrastructure. This includes additional storage and delivery systems, in anticipation of a climate that is more variable. Innovative partnerships, combined with a focus on flexibility and adaptability in operations, will help our communities achieve future success.

It is time for Arizona's businesses to work together and put a renewed emphasis on conservation of Arizona's precious water resources. These efforts will ensure the prosperity of the Valley as well as the state. SRP and Greater Phoenix Chamber invite the business community to discuss the state's supply of water, its impact on our economy and how we might support and encourage innovative policies.