By Jenna-Lee Neff
Image Courtesy of the City of Phoenix

For the first time ever, it is expected that this summer the federal government will declare a water shortage on the Colorado River. This will hit close to home for more than 400,000 residents in North Phoenix who rely on Colorado River water. But the City of Phoenix has been working on relief for this eventuality since 2017, when it began planning the $280 million drought pipeline project.

“The drought pipeline project is essential to the economic health and vitality of Phoenix,” the city of Phoenix website reads. “This project will ensure all residents have access to safe, reliable, clean drinking water during future times of shortage on the Colorado River.”

According to the city, the updates to existing infrastructure and the install of new infrastructure will allow more flexibility in moving Salt River and Verde River water supplies to areas of the city impacted by Colorado River water shortages.

The drought pipeline project consists of four smaller projects taking place at separate locations from North 32nd Street to North 35th Avenue from east to west, and West Deer Valley Road to Bethany Home Road from north to south.

Project 1 takes place in the Phoenix Mountain Preserve and nearby neighborhoods with the installation of a 66-inch pipeline and the rehabilitation and replacement of a 48-inch pipeline, the later of which has been completed. Construction began in March 2020.

Project 2 includes the installation of a 66-inch transmission main along 32nd Street and the installation of a large booster pump station just south of Bell Road at 31st Street. Phase one of this project began in November 2020, while phase two is anticipated to begin later this summer.

Project 3 includes the installation of a 42-inch transmission main along North 35th Avenue and the installation of a new valve. The valve portion of the project began in March 2021, with construction of the transmission main beginning in 2022.
Project 4 includes the installation of a new booster pump station and a section of pipeline that will make the station functional. Construction on the fourth project began last month.

Aside from 12 miles of new pipelines, the project also includes the installation of two additional water booster pump stations not mentioned above. The purpose of the pump stations is to carry the water through the new and refurbished systems.

Other improvements included in the project are pressure-reducing valve stations to regulate and maintain safe water pressure and provide more efficient water distribution. The expected completion for the project is 2023.

To keep up with the latest information and updates on the project, visit

Jenna-Lee Neff is a freelance journalist, digital audience analyst, and nonprofit public relations professional. Learn more about her work at