Source: OV 2023 Annual Water Utility Report

You can read the entire report here.


The Utility operates two water systems, the Oro Valley Water Service Area and the Countryside Water Service Area. There are three sources of supply: groundwater, Central Arizona Project water and reclaimed water. Groundwater is pumped from the wells in the aquifer below the water service areas, blended with the Central Arizona Project water and then delivered through the potable drinking water distribution system. Reclaimed water is for non-potable uses and is predominantly used for irrigation on golf courses, parks and athletic fields.

The Utility uses Central Arizona Project water in the following three ways: 1) Aquifer recharge and recovery for water delivery to the potable water systems in both Oro Valley and Countryside. 2) Aquifer recharge for replacement credit for water pumped from the Utility’s wells. 3) Aquifer recharge in nearby recharge facilities for future use. As of December 31, 2022, the Utility has accrued an estimated 31,686 acre-feet of long-term storage credits and has a Groundwater Allowance Account balance of approximately 19,500 acre feet.


The reservoirs on the Colorado River supply water to the CAP and other water projects in the lower basin states of Arizona, California and Nevada. In addition, these reservoirs provide required water deliveries to Mexico. This Colorado River water storage decline is due to the extended drought the basin has experienced for over 23 years as a result of decreased precipitation and snowpack. This has decreased flow in the river creating significant water level declines in Lake Mead and Lake Powell, resulting in historically low reservoir levels. Over the last 23 years, water demands have exceeded available inflows for supply driving reservoir levels lower.

In 2022 the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) determined that beginning in January of 2023, the BOR would declare a Tier 2a water shortage for many Colorado River Water users including Arizona. A Tier 2a water shortage reduces Arizona’s Colorado River allocation by 21%, but has no effect on Oro Valley’s CAP allocation.

The BOR has requested that all Colorado River water users create a new plan to leave even more water in the river. Six of the seven Colorado River Basin states submitted a consensus framework plan for Colorado River water cuts that met the goals set forth by the BOR.

Unfortunately, the plan failed to gain the support of California, seen as critical to making meaningful cutbacks since California has the largest apportionment of the river. California released its own plan which minimizes their obligation to leave water in the river while vastly increasing what Arizona must cut.

At the time of this report’s creation, it is unclear how the BOR will view any plan to save the river that doesn’t have the support of all the states. The BOR needs to take decisive action. All Colorado River water users will need to commit to reductions. The sooner the river’s demand is reduced to a sustainable level the sooner the river will be protected, benefiting everyone. For 2023, Oro Valley will not see any reduction in Colorado River Water deliveries, but we can expect a reduction in deliveries in future years. Fortunately, Southern Arizona water professionals have been planning for these challenging times for over 2 decades.


WaterSmart Portal

The WaterSmart Portal is a free tool for OV customers to help increase awareness of water use, encourage conservation and save money.

It will alert you to high water use issues. 43% of leaks confirmed by customers on WaterSmart were related to irrigation.

You can register here: https://www.orovalleyaz.gov/Government/Departments/Water-Utility/Services/WaterSmart-Portal

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