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City cracks down on water usage amid years of droughts and supply issues: 'It's a reality check'

It is part of a larger movement in the West to safeguard water supplies.

Water conservation policy, phoenix-drought

Photo Credit: iStock

The city of Phoenix has approved a water conservation policy that will safeguard the Southwest's water supplies and pave the way for responsible growth. 

As supplies dwindle due to overuse, prolonged droughts, and increasing temperatures, water security has become a hot topic in the West. Phoenix City Council unanimously approved the Sustainable Desert Development Policy this summer to address water supply concerns.

The Phoenix area — home to 4.6 million people and one of the fastest-growing metro areas in the country — has created proactive regulations to ensure responsible water usage and continued development. 

The policy requires developers to enact major water efficiency measures before buildings are constructed. It also restricts prospective users from excessive water usage and halts the expansion of water services beyond city limits while supplies are low. 

These actions follow the state government's announcement to restrict new home construction in Phoenix during a groundwater shortage. However, under the city's new regulations, developers will be allowed to surpass these restrictions if they adhere to the new water-efficiency measures. 

The water conservation policy also creates outdoor irrigation standards, promotes planting drought-tolerant and native plants, and regulates non-functional turf, which requires lots of water.

These policies are expected to reduce the strain on water sources like the Colorado River and ensure that millions of people continue to have access to water for years to come. 

It is part of a larger movement in the West to preserve water supplies. Most notably, Arizona, California, and Nevada have agreed to reduce their water usage from the Colorado River by 13% over the next three years.

In recent years, the Colorado River — which provides hydropower and drinking water to 40 million people in seven states and parts of Mexico — has dropped by one-third compared to historical averages. 

State officials and Phoenix authorities have taken steps to protect residents and water supplies in a region severely impacted by rising temperatures.  

"Together with our suite of conservation programs, these strategies will safeguard our precious water supply for decades to come," Phoenix mayor Kate Gallego said in a press release

"It's a reality check," Sharon Megdal, the director of the University of Arizona's Water Resources Research Center, told Reuters. "We need to have the water supplies in order to grow."

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