Surprise has three available water sources: groundwater, reclaimed water, and Colorado River water (surface water from the Central Arizona Project). Currently, Surprise relies solely on groundwater for drinking water purposes. We also utilize reclaimed water for agricultural and landscape irrigation and some surface water for irrigation purposes.
A groundwater system draws on the large amount of water stored in the underground *aquifer and isn’t immediately impacted by the near term lack of surface water. It is important to note that the city recharges an amount of water back into the underground aquifer that is equal to or greater than its daily consumption and we adhere to the Arizona Groundwater Management Act.
Background on the Arizona Groundwater Management Act (GMA): Groundwater levels in the Phoenix-Mesa metropolitan area have been adversely impacted by historic overuse of groundwater.
During the mid 1900’s, many Arizona cities began transitioning from an agricultural to an urban economy, and many policy makers became increasingly concerned about the adequacy of water supplies to support the state’s growth.
After several earlier failed efforts, water users came together to develop a comprehensive groundwater management plan, known as the Arizona Groundwater Management Act of 1980.
The Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) administers and enforces the Groundwater Code. The highest level of management, with the most restrictive provisions, is applied to Active Management Areas (AMAs) where groundwater overdraft historically was most severe. The Phoenix area AMA was established in 1994 and its goal is safe-yield by 2025. Safe-yield is a long-term balance between the amount of groundwater withdrawn in the AMA and the amount of natural and artificial recharge.
The Groundwater Code places restrictions on cities’ use of groundwater, to ensure that they do not pump more groundwater than is naturally replaced or artificially recharged.
*NOTE: An aquifer is an underground layer or water-bearing permeable rock, or unconsolidated materials (gravel, sand, silt or clay) from which groundwater can be usefully extracted using well water. Water on the surface of the earth slowly percolates through the ground and fills the open spaces between gravel and sand particles, and the cracks and fractures of rocks.