Gilbert water supplies intact despite Lake Mead shortage declaration

Glen Canyon Dam
A shortage on lakes Mead and Powell means less water will be released from Glen Canyon and Hoover dams on the Colorado River in 2022. (Jason Gutierrez/Community Impact Newspaper)

A shortage on lakes Mead and Powell means less water will be released from Glen Canyon and Hoover dams on the Colorado River in 2022. (Jason Gutierrez/Community Impact Newspaper)

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation declared a “Level 1 Shortage” on Aug. 16 at Lake Mead, but Gilbert residents will not notice a change at the tap, town officials said.

The water shortage will mean a reduction in downstream releases from Glen Canyon and Hoover dams in 2022 because of low reservoir conditions. The dams are on the Colorado River on Arizona’s northern and western borders. It is the first ever such shortage declaration.

Under the 2019 Drought Contingency Plan and other agreements, Arizona’s Colorado River supply will be reduced 512,000 acre-feet, which is about 18% of the state’s annual apportionment.

A little more than a third of Gilbert’s water supply comes from the Colorado River, a portion that is increasing as the town builds out because the growing portion of town in the south is served by Central Arizona Project water.

The river supplies CAP its water. However, Gilbert has a 100-year water plan to assure the town has enough supply even in shortage conditions. The town also receives water from the Salt and Verde rivers through the Salt River Project utility and from wells.


“[Gilbert residents] won’t notice at their tap,” Gilbert Water Resources Manager Eric Braun said after the seven-state DCP was adopted in 2019. “When our surface water supplies are cut, we’ll activate wells. They won’t notice it.”

After the shortage announcement, Gilbert officials issued a release stating that the town will not face any water reductions next year but will continue to make water conservation a priority and prepare for deeper shortages in the future.

Gilbert’s per-person water usage has declined 29% since 1997, according to the town’s release.

The town offers residents free customized programs and resources to help them use water wisely and save money. More on those programs can be found on the town’s website.
By Tom Blodgett

Editor, Gilbert

Raised in Arizona, Tom Blodgett has spent more than 30 years in journalism in Arizona and joined Community Impact Newspaper in July 2018 to launch the Gilbert edition. He is a graduate of Arizona State University, where he served as an instructional professional in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication from 2005-19 and remains editorial adviser to The State Press, the university's independent student media outlet.



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