Recently, the United States Bureau of Reclamation declared the first-ever Tier 1 Shortage on the Colorado River, beginning in January 2022. This shortage is an outcome of persistent declines in Colorado River flows as a result of long-term drought conditions, over allocation of available river resources, and climate change.

The zip codes this newspaper covers (85050 and 85054) are in a unique position as some of our readers are within the city of Phoenix boundaries while others are technically in Scottsdale. Because of this, we touched base with both cities to learn about their responses to the drought.

Phoenix’s Response to Drought and How It Impacts the City
Information Courtesy of Phoenix Water
Phoenix is built for drought. The city has developed a robust water resource portfolio over many decades and will continue to take proactive actions to prepare for even deeper shortages on the Colorado River in the years to come. Living in a desert city isn’t always easy but, because of thoughtful and intricate planning, Phoenix will continue to thrive as the fifth largest city in the United States.

“The Bureau of Reclamation’s Tier 1 Shortage declaration does not come as a surprise, as it is reflective of serious drought conditions across the Western United States. The City of Phoenix has been working for the last several decades to diversify water resources, store water for future use, and invest in infrastructure to enhance the city’s resilience to drought,” says Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego. “Phoenix has a strong legacy of conservation and wise water use to build upon. It is crucial that we continue to develop these strategies and bolster our city’s response to the effects of a warming climate.”

Phoenix Water will continue to provide safe, clean, and reliable water to its customers without interruptions, according to the city. However, it is essential that residents and business owners do their part to be water smart and embrace a desert lifestyle by using water wisely.

Residents can read the city’s water resource plan, drought action plan, and tips on how to wisely use water at

Scottsdale Declares “Stage 1” of its Drought Management Plan; City Activates Drought Management Team
Information Courtesy of the City of Scottsdale

Scottsdale City Manager Jim Thompson officially declared “Stage 1” of the city’s Drought Management Plan on August 17 as a direct result of the Colorado River Tier 1 shortage declared by the Bureau of Reclamation. The Colorado River shortage will take effect January 1, 2022, but Scottsdale’s “Stage 1” took effect immediately.

In a Tier 1 shortage, water cuts of the Colorado River will be substantially borne upon central Arizona agriculture, leaving municipal subcontractors such as Scottsdale largely unaffected. Nevertheless, this marks a momentous point in history for water management in Arizona.
Scottsdale has been preparing for this situation for several decades and has spent millions of dollars to recycle and reuse as much water as possible. While water will continue to be delivered as normal to customers now and into the future, Scottsdale views this declaration as a significant milestone that requires extensive examination by all customers to further use water wisely and efficiently for the long-term viability and sustainability of the city.

Scottsdale’s Drought Management Plan has five stages that increase in severity as water supply amounts are decreased and has water use reduction measures that may be implemented by the City Manager. The declaration of the city’s “Stage 1” of its drought management plan means Scottsdale will activate its Drought Management Team consisting of a diverse group of division and department directors from across the city. Their goal will be to examine the needs and recommendation of targeted appropriate responses and increase drought and water shortage communication efforts throughout the city.

At “Stage 1” of the Drought Management Plan, Scottsdale will ask residents and businesses to voluntarily conserve and more efficiently use water – a key initiative and communication effort. Scottsdale offers a wide and varied list of programs and rebates to residents and businesses to utilize to be the best stewards of its water resources. Scottsdale officials emphasize that every individual is key to making the city a thriving desert community and, in doing so, finding ways to use every drop efficiently and with a conservation mindset.

More information can be found at and search “shortage.”