PHOENIX—While the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Bureau) today
announced new restrictions on the Colorado River in response to ongoing 23-year drought conditions in the West accelerated by climate change, no impact to EPCOR’s customers is expected through 2023.
“While the new restrictions announced today do not directly impact our customers, it is essential that we all understand that drought resiliency and water security – particularly in the western U.S.– are ongoing concerns,” said
Joe Gysel, President, EPCOR USA. “Together, with water providers and leaders across the state, we have planned and prepared for this so that our customers can continue to count on us to keep the water flowing. That focus on strategic, long-range planning and smart water use and management will continue to be a priority.”
This is the second year in a row that shortages have been called on the river and Lake Mead will move into a Tier 2a status for the first time in history effective January 1, 2023. As a state, Arizona will receive 21% less – 592,000 acre feet – water from the river. This includes the 18% of Tier 1 water reductions that already went into effect in 2022. The majority of EPCOR’s Colorado River water resources are in the Municipal & Industrial “pool” of the state’s allocation. When you consider unused water allocations and voluntary conservation efforts like those of EPCOR’s,
we expect no impact for EPCOR customers through 2023.
Helping customers conserve
EPCOR is increasing its customer education efforts, including events, workshops and other programs, and is asking its customers to increase their own efforts to conserve and manage their individual water usage. Here are simple ways customers can reduce their own water usage:
- Request a free conservation audit or retrofit kit, including low-flow shower and hose nozzles, information on how much to irrigate by season, and more by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Invest in efficient water-using appliances, like dishwashers and washing machines. Newer, more efficient appliances use up less water than older ones – 30% less for washing machines and 18% less for dishwashers.
- Updated fixtures, like showerheads and faucets can have a big impact. Changing a showerhead or faucet installed before 1995 can result in 40-50% less water being used.
- Integrate conservation into daily life: turn off the tap while brushing your teeth, take shorter showers, wash dishes in water-efficient dishwashers instead of by hand and water your yard during the evening to avoid evaporation.
- As much as 70% of water is used outdoors. Replace grass with synthetic turf and plant drought-tolerant plants and trees.
Customers can find information on
our website or contact our Conservation team directly at
Preparing for a drier future
This news is not unexpected: All Lower Basin state water utilities, including EPCOR, have long been preparing for this situation. EPCOR’s Arizona water portfolio already is diversified – 13% of which is Colorado River water. While municipal and industrial utilities, like EPCOR, will not see any significant impact from the Colorado River supply restrictions in 2023, EPCOR continues to take it seriously and plan for the long term:
- EPCOR has Best Management Practices in effect for every Arizona service area to guide water conservation and resource management. These plans include but are not limited to conservation programs, customer education, workshops, school programs, reducing the amount of water lost to leaks through improvements and repairs, and extensive water reclamation efforts.
- A long-range water supply study for EPCOR’s Arizona service areas is underway.
- EPCOR is actively working to secure additional water resources, similar to the historic Maricopa Water District (MWD) agreement signed in 2015 that allows EPCOR to use more than 3.2 billion gallons of MWD’s water resources in the Agua Fria district.
- In areas like the San Tan Valley, EPCOR is partnering with local water districts and farmers to preserve limited groundwater resources. Working with the Magma Irrigation District in Pinal County, EPCOR expects to keep an additional 1 billion gallons of water in the ground.
- Water reclamation is increasingly important. To date, EPCOR has returned 18.2 billion gallons of treated effluent to the natural water cycle. Projects like the recent expansions of the Pecan Water Reclamation Facility in Pinal County and the Luke 303 Water Reclamation Facility in greater Phoenix’s West Valley, and the new Copper Basin Water Reclamation Facility that is under construction in Pinal County, will increase the amount of water recycled, recharged and reclaimed by 6.6 billion gallons annually.