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SPECIAL REPORT: What the current water shortage means for Yuma’s water

News 11 Reporter Melissa Zaremba investigates how the drought is having a huge impact on our local water resources and what this means for the Desert Southwest.

YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY-TV) - Arizona is currently in its 27th year of a long-term drought so saving any drop of water is becoming even more valuable.

Water is so important but is often taken for granted, and wasted. The average person unknowingly wastes 30-gallons of water a day. But ever wondered where our local water comes from.

“It’s incredible what our staff does in order to figure out this puzzle to make sure all the water gets to where it needs to go,” Deputy Area Manager for Reclamation of Yuma Area Office Carrie Scott. 

The Colorado River system supplies 36-percent of Arizona's total water use. 

So each year about 7-million acre-feet of Colorado River water is released at Parker Dam for delivery to water customers served by the Yuma Area Office.

“We track basically the accuracy of water orders and we discuss that with our water districts to make sure everyone is aware and transparent on their orders and usage is as efficient as possible,” said Scott.

Sometimes the process can be challenging.

“What gets tricky is adjustments that have to happen due to changes that is needed for produce, or changes in weather, you know if we get a rainstorm or something like that we have to work along the system in order to kinda move water around to make sure we are doing it in the most effective and efficient manner without wasting any water,” said Scott.

With the extensive drought conditions we are seeing water levels lower than ever before. 

Making locals wonder how this will impact our water supply. 

“The Yuma area is flushed with water we have a lot of water and we have a lot of water rights,” Yuma Utilities Director Jermey McCall. 

The Utility Director for the City of Yuma Jeremy McCall explains how Yuma’s water rights help secure our local water. 

“When we put together our water insurance plan and our water portfolio whereas our water comes from I mention we have 50-thousand acre feet we actually have more than that because any water we return to the Colorado River we get credit,”  said McCall.

The city of Yuma has two water treatment plants so they can  help keep the Colorado River water healthy while creating safe drinking water for us.

“Our wastewater plant discharges about 8-thousand acres which is about 3-billions of water so it’s one of the ways we ensure our capacity and water insurance for the future,”  said McCall.

But what does this mean for us in the long term.

“Our future looks really bright even during shortages and even when you hear those extreme drought conditions in Phoenix and individuals being shut off or limited to water access, Yuma by law shouldn’t face those concerns,”  said McCall.

McCall says we have a 100-year guaranteed water insurance capacity but it’s important to still be prepared. 

So the city has an emergency storage plan of 17-point-5 million gallons of water  which actually exceeds the required amount for the city. 

Regardless of how much water we have now the city urges locals to not be wasteful. 

On average, about two gallons of water flow from a faucet each minute. Something as simple as turning off the water while brushing your teeth can save up to three or four gallons of water per person per day. 

The city’s water customers have dropped their water usage over the course of the last 10 years but there are always more things we can do to save even more water.  

Learn more about the City of Yuma’s water conservation plan by clicking here

Author Profile Photo

Melissa Zaremba

Melissa Zaremba joined KYMA in November 2021. Melissa is a weekday morning weathercaster and reporter.

She graduated from Arizona State University at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in May 2021, earning her bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communication.

If you have a story idea or want to share any weather pictures with Melissa, you can email her at melissa.zaremba@kecytv.com.

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