SRP reactivates underground water storage facility as drought persists in Arizona

Salt River Project has reopened its underground water storage system after a year of being closed, as 99% of the state is experiencing some level of drought.

The Granite Reef Underground Storage Project is one of the state’s largest water banking facilities. It stores about 40,000 to 50,000 acre-feet per year.

"The amount of water we’ve stored at GRUSP is over a million acre-feet, which is equal to 17 Saguaro Lakes," said Christa McJunkin, Director of Water Strategy at SRP.

GRUSP was closed due to delivery channel damage

McJunkin says GRUSP was closed for a year, because the delivery channel was washed out.

"Flooding releases in the Salt River washed out the delivery channel that's a part of its design," said McJunkin. "We didn’t want to build it just to have it washed out again, so we were waiting to see how the weather panned out, and you can see, it's been very dry."

The delivery channel has been reconstructed, and operations at GRUSP have started again since earlier in May.

"There are seven basins at the facility, and it allows us to rotate which ones are taking water at a time," said McJunkin. "As the water goes into a basin, it is going through the pore spaces and entering into the aquifer and being stored underground."

McJunkin: No water shortages in recent years due to water storage

McJunkin says although Arizona has been experiencing a drought, there haven't been water shortages because of SRP's ability to store water in reservoirs and underground.

"Even in the case of next year’s Colorado River shortage that’s expected, the effects of that shortage will be mitigated by the fact that we’ve prepared for it," said McJunkin. "We have plans in place to take care of water that's been stored underground, or other sharing arrangements to make sure that people have the water that they need."

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