Tucson may forego some water to help keep Lake Mead level up

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Arizona’s second most populous city has signaled it may forego part of its allotment of Colorado River water delivered by the Central Arizona Project aqueduct in order to help forestall a shortage declaration for Lake Mead that would trigger mandatory reductions.

The Tucson City Council included its potential willingness to take 20% less CAP water in voting Thursday to direct city officials to discuss with other jurisdictions the possibility of coordinated conservation agreements to keep more water in the reservoir, which has seen its water plummet due to drought.

"We have a responsibility to protect our precious water resources and preserve our water supply. With today’s direction, we are taking action to safeguard Lake Mead and Lake Powell from the threat of climate change and over-use."

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Lake Mead’s surface has dropped more than 170 feet (52 meters) since 1983, and the lake is down to about 30% of capacity.

Tucson receives about 144,000-acre feet of CAP water annually but uses only about 100,000 and has been storing the surplus underground.

Several Indian tribes and local jurisdictions, including Phoenix, have not taken their full allocations of CAP water, and Tucson previously said it would also participate if needed, KOLD-TV reported.