A number of water resource issues have been identified in the planning area by community groups through the distribution of surveys and from other sources. Areas covered in this section include Planning and Conservation, Watershed Groups and Studies, Surveys and Tribal Issues. Primary issues are the accessibility of groundwater supplies in some areas due to hydrologic conditions and water quality problems. There are also infrastructure deficiencies that influence access to water supplies. A number of communities lack financial resources for infrastructure development or repair and drought has impacted surface water supplies. The ability to meet future water demands is a concern for many communities. The North Central Arizona Water Supply Study (which includes Flagstaff and the western portion of the planning area and the Western Plateau Planning Area) concluded that by 2050 the region’s groundwater pumping would not be sustainable and that unmet demands will be more than 7,000 acre-feet annually. Many Navajo communities also currently face critical water shortages. Water hauling is commonplace on the reservation, in part because widely scattered housing makes direct water delivery impractical in many areas. Hauling is also common at some locations outside of the reservation.
Planning and Conservation
Many communities in the planning area are rapidly growing and physical and legal availability of water is a challenge in some places. As mentioned previously, the communities of Flagstaff, Pinetop-Lakeside, Show Low, Snowflake, and Taylor are required to include a water resources element in their general plans because of their size and/or rate of growth. Although not required by law to include a water resources element in the county’s comprehensive plan, Coconino County has done so. The County Plan emphasizes conservation in tandem with resource development and recognizes the importance of incorporating climatic variability into water resource planning (Coconino County, 2003).
The City of Flagstaff adopted a Regional Plan with a Water Resources Element in 2002. The water resources element includes information on the water and wastewater system and an analysis of future growth and water requirements (City of Flagstaff, 2001). Flagstaff has an active conservation program that includes an extensive reclaimed water system, education, and a staggered landscape watering schedule.