Nonsoon 2020, Arizona water supply is OK—for now

2020 monsoon driest to date

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - 2020 has canceled a lot, it seems, even the monsoon. Just a few clouds in the sky, a handful of storms—but mostly just long, dry, hot days have filled summer 2020.

The National Weather Service said this monsoon has been the driest to date. Instead of the flooding storms we normally have, we’ve gotten just .66 of an inch of rain in 2020.

“The current drought is one of the worst on record,” said Sharon Megdal, director of the UArizona water research center.

Most of Arizona is in a moderate or severe drought. As well as much of the Southwest.

Megdal said Arizona’s ground water and reservoir storage is looking good, and isn’t dependent on just a couple years of low rain.

“We actually have a pretty drought-resistant water supply system at any given time, over the long-term we need to be vigilant and always, always conserve,” she said.

Arizona gets much of its water from Lake Mead. Lake Mead levels have dropped consistently for several years, and its current levels mean this is the first year Arizona is having to take a cut-back in the water it gets from it, after the passing of the Drought Contingency Plan. The cut means about a 190,000 acre feet of water.

“There’s going to be less water available than was anticipated to some of the agricultural users, particularly in Pinal County,” said Megdal.

While regulated cities and towns will be okay, and last year’s snow runoff from Colorado was great, she said it’s agriculture that will take more of the hit. If drought levels continue, that cut-back could increase in 2022.

“Less water coming from the sky means our plants are stressed, and we have to use more water,” she said.

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