Drought Resiliency and Preparedness

The Western United States, including Arizona and the Phoenix metropolitan area, has been experiencing a drought for more than 20 years, with an official drought declaration in June 1999. Drought is a normal occurrence in the desert southwest. However, effective January 2022, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has elevated the Colorado River System to a “Tier 1” shortage status, meaning less water supplies available to Arizona. See the announcement

Due to Arizona’s priority system, our city supplies will not experience a reduction. This shortage declaration does not mean a shortage at your tap.

See the response from Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) and the Central Arizona Project (CAP)


Our water supply is secure.

Together with the private water companies that operate in Surprise, the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) and the Central Arizona Project (CAP), the city’s water managers have been preparing for a shortage on the Colorado River System for years. 

The city has also built a diverse and robust water portfolio for its water utility, including renewable surface water, groundwater and reclaimed water. 

We have a plan.

Surprise has a comprehensive and strategic Drought Preparedness Plan outlining short- and long- term strategies for managing and sustaining our water portfolio. An update to this plan was adopted by City Council in December 2021.

While residents will not see a water shortage with this drought declaration, Surprise has enacted Stage 1 of its Drought Preparedness Plan, which means residents will see an increase in water conservation messaging coming from the City.

Conservation increases our resiliency.

Conserving water has always been important in our desert community. To ensure sustainable growth, we must continue planning, investing and being efficient with the water we have. The city encourages residents to use water wisely and practice conservation techniques.

Here are some ways you can help:

  • Get water conservation resources and learn about water conservation rebates at surpriseaz.gov/waterconservation 
  • City of Surprise water utility customers can track their water use through our WaterSmart® portal and set leak alerts. Access the portal through the “pay my utility bill online” option on our website at surpriseaz.gov/utilities
  • Find 100+ water saving tips at wateruseitwisely.com

Regional Collaboration – 500+ Plan

Since the Tier 1 declaration, poor hydrology forecasts have set in motion additional voluntary measures aimed at protecting Lake Mead from falling to critical elevations. The Bureau of Reclamation and the Lower Basin States (Arizona, California, and Nevada) have developed a plan to conserve an additional 500,000 acre-feet or more in Lake Mead in 2022 and 2023. Participation in this plan will involve tribes, irrigation districts, and municipalities all making voluntary contributions. Surprise has committed to leaving a portion of its Colorado River water in Lake Mead in 2022. We are able to do this because we have a diverse portfolio of water supplies, including water stored underground in our local aquifer. Thanks to our diverse portfolio of water supplies--including water stored underground in our local aquifer--we are able to participate in voluntary conservation without impacting our water customers.

Learn more about the details of the 500+ plan