Groundwater Pumping and Drought

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GroundwaterSince Buckeye relies almost entirely on groundwater, we have to carefully manage how much water we pump from each well to ensure the aquifer is sustainable. The Arizona Department of Water Resources requires specific limits on how much water we can pump from individual wells to ensure each year.

This ensures we do not adversely affect other wells in and near our service area by significantly lowering the water table. If too much water is pumped out of an aquifer, the aquifer can compact, and the ground can settle or subside – creating giant fissures or cracks in the ground. 

In addition to pumping limitations, we must also recharge or replenish the aquifer to prevent the ground from settling and cracking.

In 1980, Arizona created the Ground Water Management Act and established Active Management Areas which requires all water providers in certain parts of the state to replenish the amount of water that’s pumped from the ground, back into the aquifer. This is called achieving Safe Yield.

To accomplish this, Buckeye recharges the aquifer with its highly treated wastewater. This water slowly trickles into the aquifer, where it is cleaned even more naturally as it passed through sand and gravel deposits. It takes up to 40 to 50 years for the recharged water to make its way back into one of our wells.

State requirements with the Active Management Areas include: 

  • Achieving Safe Yield (returning the amount of water pumped out back into the aquifer)
  • Implementing water conservation measures
  • Providing an assured water supply
  • Establishing water rights and water withdrawal permits to regulate how much groundwater can be used for farming and other uses
  • Submitting annual reports on the amount of groundwater pumped, and returned to the aquifer