6 Frequently Asked Questions about the Ongoing Drought
- What is drought?
Drought is a prolonged period of significantly below-average precipitation. It is a natural cycle of the climate in the desert southwest. Knowing this region has wetter and drier periods, water managers built reserves to save water during wet years for use in dry years. Lakes and dams are the most familiar structures used for this purpose. Roosevelt Lake, for example, is a drinking water reservoir. It is able to capture and store water when it rains or snows for later use.
- How come we’re not seeing water restrictions like in California?
Despite the fact that Arizona has been in meteorological drought for more than 15 years, Gilbert has not experienced reductions in its water supplies. Arizona’s rich history of water planning has allowed its citizens to feel minimal impact from this current drought. 35 years ago the state passed the historic Groundwater Management Act, which mandated conservation programs for the municipal, agricultural, and industrial sectors. Many of the restrictions finally being enforced in California, such as mandatory water metering, reductions in water pipe leaks, and low water use landscaping are a way of life in Arizona. These common sense measures were implemented in Arizona long ago and ensure that businesses, residents, and farmers use water efficiently all the time—not just during drought.
- How does Gilbert deal with drought?
Gilbert stores water underground in the aquifer to weather the effects of drought. If surface water becomes limited, Gilbert can tap its vast reserves of stored water using its wells to make up the difference.
Additionally, Gilbert makes full use of the water sent to the wastewater reclamation facilities through the sewer system. Wastewater cleaned to a high quality is called reclaimed water, and is recharged into the groundwater aquifer.
Have you ever been out to the Riparian Preserve? That’s where Gilbert purposely puts reclaimed water in the basins to soak into the ground and replenish the groundwater levels. Reclaimed water can also be used to irrigate large landscapes such as HOAs and golf courses. Gilbert uses 100% of the reclaimed water it produces within its service area.
- Since we live in the desert, how do we have enough water?
Desert precipitation is not the driving factor for Gilbert’s water supplies. Snowfall in mountains elsewhere in Arizona and the western U.S. provide most of the water for the community. The Salt River Project brings in water from the Mogollon Rim and White Mountains and the Central Arizona Project brings in water from the Colorado River.
Gilbert has enough water supplies to meet current and future demands. Gilbert’s diverse water supply portfolio ensures that there will always be water when you turn on the faucet. If a renewable source of water is temporarily unavailable, Gilbert has backup groundwater supplies to meet demand.
- What has Gilbert done to save water?
Through conscious efforts undertaken since 2009 in the parks, street landscapes, and Town buildings, Gilbert municipal water use has declined by 28% despite maintaining more facilities and more landscape square footage.
Gilbert ensures that new development makes the best use of water for landscaping purposes. Using drinking water to irrigate turf is limited by ordinance, ensuring efficient resource use. This ordinance has saved an estimated 120 million gallons of drinking water per year.
- What can I do to help save water?
- Eliminate wasteful water use like leaks. Use the Smart Home Water Guide to find them.
- Water your landscape efficiently. Up to 70% of residential water use is outdoors; use this handy guide to find out how much water your yard needs to be healthy.
- Take a free landscape class to learn how to work your irrigation system.
- Learn how to use water efficiently around your home by watching one of these helpful videos.
- If you’re replacing any appliance or fixture that uses water, look for a Watersense label to ensure your new device uses less water.
- If you have a landscaper, encourage them to attend training or hire a Smartscape trained professional.
- If your water use is higher than you think it should be, and can’t figure out why, request a free water audit from Gilbert Water Conservation.
Businesses, schools, churches, HOAs, and other non-residential customers:
- Gilbert offers a free HOA Landscape Irrigation Assistance Program designed to reduce water use while maintaining an attractive landscape.
- Become a Water Wise Gilbert organization by participating in Gilbert’s free program.
- Hire a Smartscape trained professional to maintain your landscape and save water.