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Decades long dryness in Tucson = ongoing drought

Posted at 10:27 PM, Apr 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-23 15:57:42-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Mayor Regina Romero pledged, on Earth Day 2021, to plant more trees and provide more infrastructure for electric vehicles.

Senator Mark Kelly marked the day highlighting an ongoing drought in the state, an issue Tucson Water said it has been very aware of for years.

"Drought is something that builds up over time," said spokesperson for Tucson Water, Fernando Molina.

The water provider said the rate at which water evaporates versus how much falls every year hasn't been exactly level.

"We're in constant drought here if that's the case," Molina said.

"Our evaporation rates here can be as high as six feet per year."

Compare that to the dropping rainfall average every year.

"We've been averaging way less than 11 inches for the past 20 years."

That's also called a decades-long dry spell.

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So how has the city kept from going completely dry?

"We have been storing resources for over 20 years now."

Saving water for a rainy day or in this case a lack thereof.

"We have been taking our full allocation of Colorado River water, storing it into the aquifers."

Think of it like a savings account.

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You try to keep putting in more than you take out, the city's deposits and withdrawals go into and come from our aquifer in the Avra Valley.

"Those are our deposits and withdrawals, well we're saving a lot of water each year."

There was a time, Tucson Water said, when there wasn't really a system like this in place.

"The last time we had "water problems" was back in the 70s."

Improved infrastructure and conservation has put the city in a better position to weather the ongoing drought.

"Today we have approximately, six years or seven years of extra water, if we were not to get any Colorado River water tomorrow."