Fact Finders: How much water is Arizona giving up for new deal?

Published: May. 22, 2023 at 1:38 PM MST|Updated: May. 22, 2023 at 6:47 PM MST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - Three Southwest states, including Arizona, struck a historic deal to cut millions of gallons of Colorado River water usage over the next four years to stave off a crisis at the nation’s largest reservoirs.

The deal between Arizona, California and Nevada agrees to cut at least 3 million acre-feet of water through 2026. It’s hard to put this deal in perspective when most of us don’t know what an acre-foot of water looks like!

Every day around the house, between cooking, cleaning, watering plants - each of us uses an estimated 146 gallons of water. That’s about 53,000 gallons a year per Arizonan. Three million acre-feet is almost a trillion gallons.

”That’s like putting the city of Tucson in over 20 feet of water. It’s 23.6 feet of water,” said Ed Martin, Associate Vice President and Director of the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension System.

A single acre-foot of water is enough to cover one acre of land - about a football field - one foot deep. So, this deal is talking about three million football fields. Lake Mead, Arizona’s biggest lake, has a 31-million acre-foot capacity.

Overall, our state uses around seven million acre-feet per year. So, the amount of the cut is roughly a third of what we would use in a year in Arizona, alone. With this agreement, we are sacrificing about ten percent of our Colorado River water allocation.

Under the new proposal, California would give up about 1.6 million acre-feet of water Leaders in Arizona and Nevada haven’t yet said how they’d divide the other 1.4 million acre-feet.

It’s worth mentioning, Arizona has nearly three trillion gallons of water (more than triple the amount of the cut) stored for future use. It’s enough to serve the city of Phoenix for 30 years.

To watch more of Brooke Wagner’s interview with Ed Martin, Associate Vice President and Director of the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension System, click here: https://www.kold.com/2023/05/22/web-extra-how-much-water-is-arizona-giving-up-new-deal/