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Water Scarcit​y
Brings challenge and oppor​tu​nity

In the booming Southwest U.S., EPCOR is leading with innovations and partnering with communities, regulators and policymakers to navigate an historic drought.

For the better part of 8,000 years, communities across the Southwest United States have been able to flourish in an otherwise challenging desert environment. With its rugged and beautiful landscapes, the area remains as popular as ever today — with a growth rate that is twice the U.S. average.

But that growth has been challenged by 20 ye​ars of drought — the worst in at least 1,200 years — that has pushed governments to plan usage cutbacks on the Colorado River. Regulators, policymakers, communities and industry, meanwhile, are completely rethinking their water management practices and searching for ​innovations in water treatment and reclamation.​​​​​​​​​

“Water scarcity brings challenges but also brings opportunity,” says Joe Gysel, President of EPCOR USA.

“We believe EPCOR has the expertise to continue to be a leader and key partner in conservation, finding new sources of water, and sending clean water back to the water cycle.

”EPCOR is among the largest private utilities in the Southwest and the largest in Arizona, providing water, wastewater and natural gas service to approximately 780,000 people across 42 communities and 18 counties in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.​

Water management approach is working​

There is evidence that water management plans implemented in states like Arizona are already having a positive impact.

“The state actually uses less water today than it did in 1957, even with a population growth of more than 500% over the same time period,” says Doug Dunham, a water resource manager for EPCOR in Phoenix.

Those policies have included limiting turf in common areas and rights-of-way, treating wastewater so that it can be safely used to water golf courses, encouraging the use of high-efficiency appliances, and educating the public on how shortening common tasks that use water can reduce usage.​

Because these water management plans require communities and businesses to reduce their overall water use, this can make regular operations for utility providers more complex. EPCOR has been able to adjust its operations accordingly, thanks to its diversified water sources — a mix of ground, river, storage, reclaimed and other surface water.

EPCOR continues to expand its work in water reclamation, too. Last year, EPCOR completed a US $48 million expansion of its Luke 303 Regional Water Reclamation Facility, which is adjacent to the Luke Air Force Base outside Phoenix. The facility wil​l ultimately recharge up to eight million gallons a day of treated effluent back to the water cycle.

“We have increased the capacity of Luke 303 by two-thirds since 2021,” says Richard Obenshain, an EPCOR water resource analyst in Phoenix. “This will allow us to treat and recharge enough water annually to fill around 330 Olympic-size swimming pools.”

This increase in treatment capacity, along with improvements to other EPCOR facilities, is a key reason why EPCOR continues to surpass its standard of using or reusing at least 90% of treated effluent to recharge aquifers.​


Le​​ading fo​​r​ the env​ironment 

EPCOR’s commitment to the en​vironment is foundational to our company’s success and the sustainability of the co​​mmunities we serve. Discover how we are driving innovation to address environmental and climate change challenges.  ​

Our commitments​​​​​

Seeking new sources of water

While states served by the Colorado River prepare for cutbacks, communities to the east, in Texas, have been taking action to protect another important water source — the Edwards Aquifer, which serves the water needs of almost two million people in the south central region of the state. Public and private-sector planners are seeking new water sources and delivery methods to ease the strain of population growth. One solution is water conveyance — the movement of water from where it is abundant to the areas where it is needed. This practice has become an EPCOR specialty

The 142 mile-long (228 km) Vista Ridge Pipeline, which EPCOR operates, supplies 20% of the water for San Antonio and helped the city of almost 1.5 million people avoid widespread water shortages during record heat and limited rainfall in the summer of 2022. Vista Ridge, along with EPCOR’s 130 Pipeline, which has supplied municipalities in the Austin metro area since 2016, is helping to curtail the negative and immediate effects of drought.

Through a combination of water conveyance, recycling and conservation, EPCOR is leading the charge to support and meet the demands of growing communities in one of the fastest growing regions of the United States.​

U.S. Southwest Droug​ht

A historic drought combined with record population growth in the Southwest U.S. has forced leaders to reset t​heir thinking about water management. Learn how EPCOR is leading the charge to support and meet the demands of growing communities in one of the country’s fastest growing regions.​​​​

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