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Sustainable Water Supplies

Young Arizonans are concerned about long-term vision and planning when it comes to issues like water and environmental sustainability, how to reconcile natural resources with economic growth, and the impacts on generations to come. Sustainable water supplies was the #3 ranked issue on a statewide survey of 2,000 young Arizonans.

What Young Arizonans Said

"I am frustrated by the lack of movement in the non-AMA water users and their lack of regulation."

"People will not move somewhere that doesn't have a sustainable water supply."

"Without a solid foundation for a sustainable water supply, it becomes extremely difficult to sustain other natural resources."

"I'm leaving Arizona because I don’t feel safe here. Climate change will make it unbearable and even without that, our water is running out."

"The watershed in Tucson has been declining for decades; we need sustainability in the desert."

How to Interpret the Data

As measured by Relative Amount of Population and Land Area within Protected or Somewhat Protected Areas of Arizona

(Also see the Natural Resources Progress Meter)

Relative Amount of Population and Land Area within Protected or Somewhat Protected Water Areas of Arizona is measured by calculating the percentage of people and land within Active Management Areas (AMAs), mandatory adequacy jurisdictions and Irrigation Non-Expansion Areas (INAs) across Arizona.

Protection laws for Arizona’s water supplies are important as they provide vital water security for the state’s residents. The laws also offer investors in the region, including developers, homebuyers and business owners, confidence that they can make long-term commitments to our community without risk of being without water.

Arizona took an important step toward safeguarding its water supply in 1980 by instituting laws that protected its groundwater supplies. The first of these laws was known as the Groundwater Management Act. Thanks to this and more recent legislation, there is now a network of laws that help prevent Arizona’s valuable and finite groundwater from being overused. Some of the protections in these laws include:

  • Active Management Areas (AMAs) have water sustainability rules that help ensure the wise use of water. These include safe yield groundwater goals which vary by AMA:
    • Phoenix, Tucson, and Prescott AMAs must achieve safe yield (use no more groundwater than is replaced) by 2025.
    • Pinal AMA’s goal is to maintain agricultural use as long as possible while retaining enough groundwater to transition to different uses in the future.
    • Santa Cruz AMA’s goal is a safe yield and protection of groundwater levels from long-term decline and a requirement that all new homes have at least 100 years of assured water supply before a subdivision can be approved.
  • Irrigation Non-Expansion Areas (INAs) are designed to preserve the viability of existing agriculture in an area where groundwater is the principal source of water and rates of withdrawal exceed sustainable limits.
  • Mandatory Adequacy Jurisdictions are municipalities and counties within Arizona that have elected to require a 100-year assured water adequacy determination from the Arizona Department of Water Resources, even though it is not otherwise required.

Relative Amount of Population and Land Area within Protected or Somewhat Protected Areas of Arizona is updated annually and is available only for Arizona in a comparison with previous years.

Source: Arizona Department of Water Resources