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Scottsdale City Council approves water exchange partnership with Tucson

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A view of Scottsdale City Council at City Hall, 3939 N. Drinkwater Blvd. (Photo: Arianna Grainey/
Scottsdale City Council brokers CAP water exchange to stave water shortages
Staff Reports | Digital Free Press

Scottsdale City Council approved a new agreement last night creating a water exchange partnership between Scottsdale and the city of Tucson.

Per the agreement, Scottsdale could exchange up to 5,000 acre-feet of Scottsdale’s Central Arizona Project water on an annual basis in exchange for credits that will be redeemed during shortages, city officials tell the Arizona Digital Free Press.

Scottsdale City Hall: how the water exchange will unfold

Scottsdale will store a portion of its CAP water at Tucson’s storage and recovery facility; this earns Scottsdale long-term storage credits.

Tucson can recover this physical water from its facility and use it as needed within the city of Tucson.

In exchange for Tucson using the physical water, Scottsdale will retrieve a portion of Tucson’s CAP supply directly out of the canal for use within Scottsdale.

“Interjurisdictional, proactive measures like this benefit Scottsdale residents and show the state that local municipalities are taking forward-thinking action to make sure our communities have water for decades to come,” Scottsdale Mayor Ortega said in a prepared statement.

The partnership agreement arose out of a need to escalate more efficient water supply resources between cities, city officials say, pointing out the city of Tucson is executing a similar agreement with several other Valley cities.

“As a leader in water conservation and management throughout the country, Tucson is helping support Arizona cities build their own water resilience,” said Tucson Mayor Regina Romero. “I am proud to help the city of Scottsdale and Mayor Ortega protect their precious water resources through this water exchange agreement. As our state continues to face a Colorado River mega drought, desert cities must continue working together to ensure a more resilient water future.” 

Scottsdale Water has been working diligently to heighten both water conservation and infrastructure planning to prepare for a future with more uncertainty on the Colorado River.

“Scottsdale recognizes that innovative solutions like this are the key to sustaining water resources as we continue to face the mega drought,” Mayor Ortega said.

City Council’s approval allows Scottsdale Water’s executive director the authority to enter into an intergovernmental agreement with Tucson as soon as possible. Tucson’s City Council approved their portion of the agreement earlier this month. The cities plan to sign the agreement by the end of August and start storing water as soon as September.

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