Rosie on the House: Arizona Agriculture’s Water Use and the Truths You don’t Always Hear About
Water is Arizona Farm Bureau’s top priority issue. So, you’ll hear us talking a lot about water and how critical it is in the agriculture industry. If you go to our priority issue page you’ll see all the areas under water that we are tackling. And we’re doing this all with the direction and help of our farmer/rancher leaders.
In the meantime, it’s important for Arizona families to know that Arizona leads the nation with rigorous water conservation efforts, according to the Arizona Department of Water Resources, and because of the 1980 Groundwater Management Act, Arizona has the legal and physical infrastructure that maintains a 100-year assured water supply to meet the current and future needs of residents and industry. In fact, all of Arizona's stakeholders see a priority in effectively managing our water resources.
And our “Farm Fresh” hour on February 4th on the Rosie on the House show proved that point. We talked about Ag water with guest, Nich Kenny. With an impressive insight on agriculture water efficiency use, Kenny wove for us an understanding of agriculture's improvements in this precious resource that most of us don’t ever get to hear about.
The full segment can be found here with no commercial interruptions.
Interesting Facts about Arizona’s Water Use for Arizona Families to Understand
The Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) has compiled some fascinating water facts about Arizona and even made comparisons to California and other western states. They follow.
• Arizona is currently below 1957 water usage levels due to increased conservation methods and the decrease in water used for agriculture.
• Arizona has five times (5x) more water stored than we use and has never mandated municipal or residential restrictions on uses throughout our state’s history.
• Arizona has a multi-faceted portfolio of water supplies with the most advanced program for managing groundwater in the country. Our vast aquifers allow us to access water during times of drought, and we’ve been prepared for decades for shortage declarations.
• It is unfounded to group Arizona in with other Western and Mountain West states when it comes to the shortage along the Colorado River because we’re far less reliant than competitor markets.
• Only 36% of the Arizona water supply is provided by the Colorado River; Nevada is 100% reliant, California’s predominant water supply at 60%, and makes up 30-40% of Colorado’s.
• Arizona has 13.2 million acre-feet of water stored in reservoirs as well as underground, with 7.1 million acre-feet of that total stored in Greater Phoenix. Because of the infrastructure in place, we can pull and replace water as needed, making our water supply more resilient during times of drought.
• It’s our cornerstone and what separates us from other Mountain West states.
• California has limited groundwater management infrastructure in place compared to Arizona.
• 93% of the water that enters the Greater Phoenix waste stream can be reclaimed and treated for potable use and this is a huge differentiator for us.
• Arizona is a national leader when it comes to the reuse of water. California sends more water back to the Pacific Ocean each year than the City of Phoenix uses in total.
Advanced Manufacturing & Data Centers
• On average, semiconductor fabs recycle and reuse 75-85% of the water expended during the manufacturing process, with many companies exceeding this mark, and industrial use only accounts for 5% of Arizona’s annual water usage.
• Data centers reuse currently sits at roughly 30%, but that doesn’t account for the water supplies that are not consumed at the facilities themselves.
• Data centers are necessary to Greater Phoenix’s ability to attract investment from advanced back-office and security operation centers, and high-tech, advanced manufacturing and semiconductor companies.
• Partners such as SRP and the University of Arizona are working together on studies and solutions around data center water use, reuse, and alternative cooling processes that will make these facilities more sustainable in the long term.
Looking to the Future
• The demand side is not insurmountable, but ongoing investment in infrastructure to ensure the availability of natural resources including water is paramount in relation to Greater Phoenix’s ability to attract continued investment from semiconductor and advanced manufacturing firms.
• SRP is working with the Department of Reclamation to modify Bartlett Dam to increase storage capacity to 100,000 acre-feet for utilization, which will service nearly 100,000 people.
• Currently, Roosevelt Dam can capture 3.4 million acre-feet of water, but not all of it is available for use. SRP is working with partners to be able to produce 300,000 acre-feet of water for utilization.