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Is AZ Facing Historic Water Restrictions Like CA?

PHOTO: As California implements mandatory water restrictions, Arizona officials say despite a 15 year drought, such measures are not likely in the Grand Canyon State. Photo credit: California Department of General Services.
PHOTO: As California implements mandatory water restrictions, Arizona officials say despite a 15 year drought, such measures are not likely in the Grand Canyon State. Photo credit: California Department of General Services.
April 2, 2015

PHOENIX – Despite the years-long drought on the Colorado River, Arizona is not facing the historic mandatory water restrictions being implemented in neighboring California, according to Thomas Buschatzke, director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources.

Buschatzke says Arizona is a leader in banking and conserving water as a means of avoiding extreme restriction measures.

"So we got on the conservation bandwagon long before any other Western state,” he points out. “I believe we're the only Colorado River state that actually has everyday mandatory conservation programs."

California Gov. Jerry Brown is ordering residents, cities and towns, as well as businesses and farms, to cut water use by 25 percent.

The measure is blamed on record low snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, a major water source for the state.

Buschatzke says the Bureau of Reclamation is forecasting a 50 percent or better chance that Arizona will see a cut in its Colorado River allocation by 2017.

However, Buschatzke says, even if that happens, the state is prepared.

"We are not in kind of the crisis mode that California is in,” he stresses. “We are far from it. We have made different choices over the years than California has, and so we are much more well prepared to deal with this shortage that we are talking about.

“Certainly we do not need to do mandatory restrictions to deal with that shortage."

Because of the drought this year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has declared primary natural disaster areas in more than 250 counties in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Nevada, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah.


Troy Wilde, Public News Service - AZ