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SRP Reservoirs Prepared for Drought as 2021 Runoff Season Ends at Second Driest on Record

SRP’s Strategy for Storing During Wet Years Contributes to its Water Resiliency

Despite experiencing the second driest runoff season on record, Salt River Project reservoirs are prepared to meet the Valley’s demand for water this year and into the future.

This year’s snowmelt runoff from the Salt and Verde watershed amounted to about 104,000 acre-feet, which puts the 2021 runoff season as the second driest among 109-year-old records kept by SRP water managers.

The good news is today, even as the state experiences record drought conditions, the reservoirs on the Salt and Verde rivers stand at about 67 percent full with 1.53 million acre-feet stored as the Valley enters the heaviest-use period of the year.

“The reservoirs are doing exactly what they should be doing at this point in time, capturing runoff in wet years and storing it for dry years such as these,” said Charlie Ester, manager of SRP Watershed Management. “As we have done for nearly 120 years and will continue to do, SRP will plan and initiate strategies to build our water resiliency even in the midst of a changing climate.”

SRP continually assesses the adequacy of its reservoir water supply and only allocates a certain amount of surface water to ensure sufficient supplies are carried over for use in subsequent years. Ester said cities and irrigation users that rely on SRP water can count on full water allocations this year despite the recent extreme dry winter and spring.

In fact, recent research suggests the Salt River system is less sensitive to a warming climate than the upper Colorado River Basin. Runoff from winter precipitation on the Salt and Verde river systems occurs in the late winter and early spring when sun angles are lower and temperatures are not as warm compared to the upper Colorado River Basin, which experiences runoff much later in the year when sun angles are higher and temperatures are warmer, causing more evaporation.

In addition, SRP continues to emphasize the importance of water conservation, Ester said, and he encourages Valley residents to visit SRPnet.com/water/conservation for updates and easy ways to conserve water.

SRP is the largest raw water supplier in the Phoenix metropolitan area, typically delivering about 750,000 acre-feet annually.

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About SRP

SRP is a community-based, not-for-profit public power utility and the largest provider of electricity in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area, serving more than 1 million customers. SRP is also the metropolitan area’s largest supplier of water, delivering about 750,000 acre-feet annually to municipal, urban and agricultural water users.