Reports were provided by the Salt River Project (SRP) on the Salt and Verde watersheds, the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) on the Colorado River Basin, and the State Drought Monitoring Technical Committee on climate conditions. A few of the main points are described below and form the basis of the ICG’s recommendation:
- Although the Verde and Salt reservoir systems are nearly full, the Colorado reservoir system, which provides 40% of Arizona’s water supply, is still well below its average level.
- Data show abnormally dry to moderate long-term drought conditions across the state.
- Precipitation totals have been below normal:
- In Prescott - 13 of the past 14 years
- In Springerville - eight of the past 14 years
- In Flagstaff - 11 of the past 14 years
- In Phoenix and Tucson - 12 of the past 14 years
- Winter precipitation amounts have been well below average statewide.
- In comparison to last year, drought status in a few watersheds has improved; however, precipitation over the last four years has generally been below average for most of Arizona’s watersheds.
The group decided during last year’s spring meeting that Arizona would need at least three consecutive wet winters to consider discontinuing the drought declarations, and unfortunately that did not occur. The updates confirmed that although winter precipitation looked good at the beginning of the season, the winter of 2008 - 2009 turned out to be drier than average. Based on this information, the ICG made a unanimous decision to recommend that both drought declarations be kept in place:
- Drought Emergency Declaration (PCA 99006) has been in effect since June 1999 and maintains the state’s ability to provide emergency response if needed. It also enables farmers and ranchers to obtain funding assistance through the Farm Service Agency if they experience production losses due to drought.
- The Drought Declaration for the State of Arizona (Executive Order 2007-10) was issued in May 2007 to raise awareness of Arizona’s continuing long-term drought and encourage conservation.