Drinking Water Distribution System

toddler drinking from fountain

All of the nearly 30 billion gallons of water delivered by Tucson Water to its 722,000 customers each year is groundwater pumped from area aquifers. About 90% of our drinking water is a blend of groundwater and Colorado River water.

In its 390-square-mile service area, Tucson Water operates:

  • 206 active production or standby groundwater wells.
  • Approximately 60 potable storage facilities capable of storing nearly 305 million gallons.
  • 4,600 miles of pipeline.
  • Hundreds of booster stations and pressure control valves that give Tucson Water maximum flexibility in water delivery.

How Water is Distributed and Monitored:

  • Water may be pumped from wells directly into the distribution system or into large transmission lines for delivery elsewhere in the community.
  • During the night, or when customer demand is lower, water is pumped to reservoirs for storage for later use.
  • The water is chlorinated at the wells and monitored in reservoirs and at other sites in the distribution system. If necessary, additional chlorine can be added at many of these sites.


Is the Quality of Groundwater the Same Throughout the Tucson Water Service Area?

Most people in Tucson who rely on groundwater for their drinking water are not aware that the quality of groundwater varies considerably throughout the metropolitan area and from season to season. This is mainly due to the fact that water quality is largely determined by the geological make-up of the area from which it is pumped. Our groundwater has accumulated over thousands of years of rainfall, snowmelt, and streamflow percolating through the ground. The type of soils that the water moved through affected the amount and type of minerals which dissolved into the water as it accumulated beneath the surface.

Tucson Water pumps groundwater from more than 175 wells which are spread out from the far east side of Tucson to Avra Valley, west of the Tucson Mountains. The quality of water varies from area to area in temperature, hardness, sodium content, pH, total dissolved solids, metals, and trace constituents like fluoride.

Differences also can occur because of the way Tucson Water manages its wells for peak efficiency. Not all wells pump all the time, but are turned off and on depending on demand or to perform necessary maintenance. If demand for water is high in one area of town and low in another, Tucson Water can move water to where it's needed. During the winter, less efficient wells are shut down to save pumping costs.

All of these variables can change the pattern of water delivery so that customers may receive groundwater from different sources at different times. This can account for changes in water quality.