Drought Preparedness

The Drought Preparedness and Response Plan was originally approved by Mayor and Council on November 28, 2006, as required by state statute (A.R.S. §45-342). Mayor and Council implemented the plan with Ordinance No. 10380 on March 20, 2007, the same year that Governor Brewer declared a statewide drought that persists to this day.  

The drought plan must be updated every five years. Minor updates to the drought plan were made in 2012 and 2017. Mayor and Council approved a major revision in October 2020 that was largely driven by the 2019 Drought Contingency Plan, the seven state agreement on how to share Colorado River water. Before the end of 2026, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior will develop new guidelines for the long-term management of the Colorado River system in partnership with the Arizona Reconsultation Committee (the next drought plan update will reflect those guidelines).

Key elements of the most recent drought plan update are as follows: 

- Updating the drought stages and thresholds to be consistent with the 2019 Drought Contingency Plan 

- Demonstrating how the Utility has diversified its water supply portfolio, increased water savings, and improved infrastructure redundancy 

- Integrating climate change adaptation planning with both the drought plan and One Water 2100 

- Streamlining the drought responses and incorporating a strategic, data driven approach rather than relying on the Emergency Water Ordinance 

- Adding a response measure to Tier 1 that initiates an automatic review of the Water Service Area Policy by Mayor and Council so that they can consider suspending new requests for water service through Pre-Annexation Development Agreements and assess whether other adjustments to the Policy are needed. 

- Adding a response measure to Tier 2 allowing Mayor and Council to suspend new requests for water service through Pre-Annexation Development Agreements and assess whether other adjustments to the Policy are needed. 

There are four tiers in the updated drought plan. We are currently in Tier 0. The following table provides a summary of the tiers, thresholds, and response measures: 

Water Director advises City Manager to declare Tier 0 when Lake Mead is between 1090' and 1075'  
City of Tucson response measures: - Continuation of Tucson Water’s conservation program
- Public notification and education campaign based on current drought conditions
- City departments start conducting water audits
- Tucson Water develops water use guidelines for residential, commercial, and reclaimed customers using historic consumption data
- Tucson Water continues or accelerates ongoing operations and maintenance programs to ensure that production and distribution capacity exceed peak demand.
Residential, commercial, and reclaimed customers response measures:

- Increased awareness of drought conditions and conservation options

Water Director advises City Manager to declare Tier 1 when Lake Mead falls below 1075’  
City of Tucson response measures: - Continue Tier 0 measures
- City departments begin implementing water audit recommendations.
- Tucson Water will provide targeted conservation program information for customers whose consumption exceeds their specific water use guidelines.
- Mayor and Council will initiate an automatic review of the Water Service Area Policy (WSAP) to consider suspending new requests for water service through Pre-Annexation Development Agreements and assess whether other adjustments to the WSAP are needed.
Residential, commercial, and reclaimed customers response measures: - Continue Tier 0 measures
- Customers will receive information about their water use guidelines. 
- If a customer’s consumption exceeds their guidelines, they will also receive targeted conservation recommendations.
- Potable water will not be available as a backup supply for the reclaimed system, unless a delivery system failure occurs.
City Manager advises Mayor and Council to declare Tier 2 when Lake Mead falls below 1045’  
City of Tucson response measures: - Continue Tier 0 & 1 measures
- Tucson Water will provide water audit assistance for customers whose consumption continues to exceed water use guidelines. 
- Mayor and Council may consider a drought surcharge
- Mayor and Council will suspend new requests for water service through Pre-Annexation Development Agreements and assess whether other adjustments to the WSAP are needed.
Residential, commercial, and reclaimed customers response measures: - Continue Tier 0 & 1 measures
- Customers whose consumption continues to exceed water use guidelines will be required to conduct water audits.
City Manager advises Mayor and Council to declare Tier 3 when Lake Mead falls below 1025’ or the volume of water delivered by the Central Arizona Project to Tucson Water is less than annual potable demand  
City of Tucson response measures: - Continue Tier 0, 1 & 2 measures
- If water consumption does not decrease as a result of earlier drought tier responses, Mayor and Council may consider water use restrictions for customers whose consumption continues to exceed their water use guidelines.
- Mayor and Council may consider policy adjustments regarding new requests for water service outside of the City limits (e.g. Pre-Annexation Development Agreements).
Residential, commercial, and reclaimed customers response measures: - Continue Tier 0, 1 & 2 measures
- Customers whose consumption continues to exceed water use guidelines must implement water audit recommendations.

 

More information: