Drought Resiliency and Preparedness

The Western United States, including Arizona and the Phoenix metropolitan area, has been experiencing a drought for more than a 20 years, with an official drought declaration in June 1999. Drought is a normal occurrence in the desert southwest. However, as the drought in the Colorado River Basin continues to extend, the Lower Basin States of Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Nevada along with Mexico may face reductions in their Colorado River water deliveries. 

Surprise’s water managers are aware of the potential cuts, and have been planning for extended drought for years. Surprise regularly reviews and updates its Integrated Water Management Plan, Drought Preparedness Plan, and conservation program.

In the event of a declared water shortage, Surprise will institute programs identified in the City’s Drought Preparedness Plan, a comprehensive document outlining short- and long-term strategies for managing and sustaining water supplies in our community. In the meantime, the City’s Water Resource Management team oversees the City’s water conservation program, providing resources, education, and advice on water-wise practices. Activating the Drought Preparedness Plan will help reduce the city’s vulnerability to reductions in our water supply.

Current Drought Status

Currently, the Colorado River is operating in a “Tier Zero” status. However, based on the current hydrology, it is likely that the US Bureau of Reclamation will elevate the shortage level on the Colorado River to a “Tier 1” in 2022. This would require Arizona to reduce uses by a total of 512,000 acre-feet, again, borne almost entirely by the Central Arizona Project (CAP) system.

Surprise, together with the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) and the Central Arizona Project (CAP) are prepared for “Tier 1” reductions due in part to agreements among Arizona water users to leave water in Lake Mead to meet the Arizona’s Drought Contingency Plan (DCP), lasting through 2026. Read their joint Drought Shortage Statement from April 1, 2021.

While significant, the high priority CAP water supply for cities, residential users, and tribes will not be immediately affected due to the implementation of agreements among Arizona water users. Surprise currently has an adequate water supply to serve its customers and will not face any reductions during a “Tier 1” stage.

Important Contact Information & links

Water Conservation: conservewater@surpriseaz.gov

Water Billing & WaterSmart Questions: https://www.surpriseaz.gov/1503/Utility-Billing-Rates

Drought: Jennifer Davidson, 623.222.7135, Jennifer.davidson@surpriseaz.gov

Central Arizona Project/Arizona Department of Water Resources - Drought Shortage Statement

Colorado Drought Contingency Plan - Arizona Implementation Fact Sheet