When it comes to Tucson’s water supply, it is more important how much it snows in Colorado than how much it rains in Tucson, says John Kmiec, director of Tucson Water.

“The health of the Colorado (River), that being our primary water source, is what dictates eventually over time how much water we are able to import to the Tucson Basin,” Kmiec said in a recent interview with KGUN 9. “We are always very excited about great snowstorms in Colorado. That means the future Tucson water supply is being shored up.”

Colorado has seen record snowfall in recent years. The end result has been a great rebound of the water levels inside of Lake Powell and Lake Mead, two bodies that help dictate how much water will be available to the communities on the Colorado River System, Kmiec said.

But the City of Tucson continues to plan for the future. Last fall, it approved a long-term One Water 2100 Plan, described on the One Water website as a “nationally recognized approach to managing finite water resources for long-term resilience and reliability to meet both community and ecosystem needs.”

“The primary thing is conservation,” Kmiec said “We continue to see people use less water in their daily lives. We anticipate that is going to continue going on into the future. Conservation as well as water recycling programs will extend the future of Tucson well into the next century.”

Kmiec said Tucson already uses less water than annually allocated to the city through the Central Arizona Project, a canal system providing water from the Colorado River to communities throughout central and southern parts of the state.

Tucson gets about 144,000 acre feet annually, but only uses about 100,000 acre feet a year, Kmiec said.

“Weve been purchasing excess water above what the community has been using for many years,” he said.


Kmiec said the city’s conservation efforts over the last 40 years have also helped.

“Our water demands per single family residences and businesses continue to go down while our population continues to increase,” he said. “We are using today in 2023-24 the same amount of water we did in the late 1980s, but with 200,000 more people living here.”