Where Does Gilbert Water Come From?
Gilbert, Ariz.- In the United States, water is usually readily available and few people have to worry if it will be there when they turn on the tap.
Yet, you know that Arizona has been in a drought for over 15 years. You have heard about California’s water woes, but let’s explore why Gilbert is not in a similar predicament.
We learned in grade school about the water cycle and the importance of precipitation. With only 7 inches of annual rainfall, Gilbert’s water supply must be brought in from the mountains. Like many Valley cities, Gilbert’s water comes from the snowpack that feeds the Salt, Verde, and Colorado Rivers. Water from the Salt and Verde rivers is transported to the Valley via the Salt River Project (SRP) system, and water from the Colorado River is delivered via the Central Arizona Project (CAP), a 336 mile-long canal or aqueduct.
SRP reservoirs hold a nearly four-year supply of water when full, as do the Colorado River reservoirs. The large storage capacity allows Gilbert to have a steady supply of water, even through years of drought.
These water sources, known as renewable surface water, make up the majority of the water that Gilbert treats and delivers to your house. A small amount of groundwater is also utilized. Excessive groundwater pumping in Arizona’s past led to groundwater depletion. Groundwater use is therefore limited in five Active Management Areas throughout the state. Gilbert lies in an Active Management Area.
There is a fourth source of water in Gilbert, perhaps you have seen the signs.
Reclaimed water is a very important water source in Gilbert because it offsets the use of potable (drinkable quality) water. Reclaimed water is A+ quality treated wastewater. We use reclaimed water in Gilbert to irrigate parks and HOA common area landscapes, as well as for groundwater recharge. Groundwater recharge occurs at two main sites in Gilbert: the Riparian Preserve and the South Area Recharge Facility, and helps replace any groundwater that is pumped, ensuring a sustainable use of the aquifer.
Gilbert’s water supplies are robust and resilient, yet we must continue to remain vigilant, conserving water where we can and implementing new technologies to increase our water efficiency. Gilbert is prepared for drought as long as we all keep doing our part. Check out gilbertaz.gov/water for more information on Gilbert’s water conservation programs.
*Photo credits: Channah Rock, University of Arizona