Tucson Water, Arizona, USA

Climate-Smart Utility Case Story

Tucson Water is committed to providing water to Arizona and its residents by diversifying water supplies. Up until the early 2000s there was a high reliance on groundwater, however the extraction of groundwater has a number of negative environmental impacts as well as safety risks (e.g., subsidence). Groundwater has been replaced by Colorado river water, remediated, and reclaimed water, as well as a small amount of rain and stormwater.

Tucson Water employs a combination of measures to improve climate resilience. These measures include (1) maximising protection, (2) optimising and expanding supply to enhance diversity, (3) pursuing win-win partnerships, (4) undertaking preparatory work including identifying decision points and implementing responses, (5) monitoring and protecting to improve water quality, and (6) using groundwater as a reserve resource (rather than as the main water source).

Lessons learned from this case is that collaboration can help in building climate resilience. Strategies such as diversifying water supplies and using early warning systems were also cited as valuable. In addition, this case highlights the importance of sustainable use of groundwater, which can be used as a source of water for domestic use, industrial use, and irrigation of farmland. Groundwater has the advantages of stable water supply but should be treated as a reserve resource and carefully protected and exploited in a limited way, for example, Tucson Water can improve the efficiency of its use of Colorado River water.

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