Adequate Water Supply Designation

Pie Chart showing how Water Management is one of four parts of the Water Services Intergrated Manage

Assurance about the availability and sustainability of our water supplies for the next 100 years.

The Adequate Water Supply Designation signifies that Flagstaff has demonstrated physical supply availability for 100 years, legal rights to water, water infrastructure, as well as financial and water treatment capabilities.

Although designation is not required, in 2011, City Council authorized staff to proceed with applying as a guarantee to current and future residents. The City received the designation in 2013. The Arizona Department of Water Resources requires annual reporting as a checks and balances approach to ensure that cities are prepared to meet current, committed, and projected water demands.

The designation provides:

  • A requirement for City staff to track new plats approved by City Council and associated water demands
  • Security for today's community and future residents
  • A demonstration to the state and our community that we are committed to the future
  • A focus on sustainable yield

AWS Program History

In Arizona, the legislation that governs the management of groundwater is the 1980 Groundwater Management Act (GMA), which defines Active Management Areas (AMAs) and specifies requirements for water providers within these areas. However, since Flagstaff lies outside of the state’s five AMAs, we are governed by the permissive Adequate Water Supply (AWS) Program, which is administered by the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR).

In 1973 (prior to the GMA), the City received an AWS Designation — with no requirement to prove hydrologically that our supply will last 100 years. While this program attempts to link growth with water supply, it has no regulatory teeth and provides no assurances about the true availability of water.

In 2007, the State Legislature adopted House Bill 2672, and Senate Bill 1575, as a “carrot and stick” to give Counties and Cities outside of AMAs tools to better manage water supplies. The “carrot,” HB 2672, created the Water Resources Development Fund (with no funding mechanism). The “stick,” SB 1575, made the provisions within the ADWR’s AWS Program mandatory. Local jurisdictions now have the ability to prove that their supplies will be continuously, legally, and physically available for 100 years and that they are of drinking water quality. Providers must also prove their financial ability to construct, operate, and maintain a water system. The benefit of this designation is that provides long-term assurance to investors, businesses, and homebuyers that our water supplies will last into the future.

The City has updated its AWS Designation twice.

In 2011, the City received approval from ADWR to modify Flagstaff’s 1973 AWS Designation to include groundwater at Red Gap Ranch based on a hydrologic study that determined we could pump 16,500 acre-feet/year from this area without significant water level declines.

In February 2013, ADWR modified our AWS Designation based on the results of a groundwater sustainability / modeling study. This designation requires that the City submit an annual update of water use and future water demands and a modeling update every 10 years.

You can find all the records and information staff has submitted to ADWR to ensure the citizens of Flagstaff have water for future generations by visiting the ADWR docushare website here. Under "Imaged Record" select "AAWSDoc" and then for "Project Name" enter "City of Flagstaff" and select "Search". Be sure to use Internet Explorer.

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