For decades, groundwater beneath Arizona’s big cities has been spared. That’s about to change

Central Arizona Project canal. / Wikipedia

Disclosure: Rose Law Group represents Fondomonte

By Rob O’Dell, and Ian James | Arizona Republic

While groundwater is rapidly falling in rural farming communities across Arizona, Phoenix, Tucson and other cities haven’t reached that desperate situation. 

That’s because in the urban areas of the state — where there are rules limiting groundwater pumping — underground water levels have stabilized or risen in many areas in the past four decades. 

But there’s a catch: Water levels have risen in large part because of water imported from the Colorado River, which supplies cities and is also put into the ground to recharge groundwater. Water levels in some of the wells surrounding these recharge sites have jumped 150 to 200 feet since the early 1980s. 

Starting next year, though, there will be much less of that river water available to prop up aquifers. Those cutbacks combined with weaknesses in regulations mean the water picture in Arizona’s urban core is not as secure as once thought.