Drought & Climate Change


Aerial view showing a dry Horseshoe Lake, its bed a lush green from plant life that has sprouted.

Caption plum:Horseshoe Lake, Summer 2003

Drought & Climate Change

Security in diversity

Phoenix's diverse water supply portfolio, greater conservation and efficient management of supplies combine to minimize the impact of drought on customers. However, with a growing population and the possibility of impacts from climate change, facing the droughts of the future could be a tough challenge. The 2011 Water Resources Plan looks ahead and addresses the risks and potential challenges the city may face in the coming decades.

Mother Nature can be unpredictable, but there are ways to minimize the impact of her changeability. Having a diversity of sources for your water is an important part of this: although it is not unusual for one supply category to have a shortfall, it is rare that Salt River Project and Central Arizona Project supplies are dry at the same time.

Aerial view of a full Horseshoe Lake, with blue water lapping along a shoreline.

Caption plum:Horseshoe Lake, Winter 2004-2005

Using the past to understand the future

Records show that over the past 500 years, there have been three extended periods of drought conditions, when both the Colorado River and Salt River watersheds received little rain for many years. There were extended dry periods in the late 16th century, late 19th century and in the post-war period. In contrast, the early 20th century was unusually wet. 

Global climate change has the potential to impact the frequency and severity of water shortages. Long-term temperature increases in source watersheds could reduce precipitation. Of greatest concern is the possibility of reduced snow pack which would mean reductions in the amount of water that is gradually released in the spring and summer months. More information on how the City plans to meet your water needs in the face of these challenges can be found in the 2011 Water Resources Plan.

Where can I find out more?