The town of Gilbert has signed a federal agreement to reduce its Colorado River water consumption.
Town council voted during the consent agenda June 20 to approve the system conservation implementation agreement with the Bureau of Reclamation to conserve up to 1,200 acre-feet of Gilbert’s Colorado River water in Lake Mead each year through 2025.
An acre-foot — a unit of volume equal to the volume of a sheet of water one acre in area and one foot in depth — is the approximate volume of water needed to serve two homes in Gilbert per year.
The agreement is administered through the Bureau of Reclamation’s Lower Basin System Conservation and Efficiency program, which was developed to protect the Colorado River reservoirs from reaching critical elevations.
Gilbert will receive $400 per acre-foot conserved for up to $480,000 per year through the Inflation Reduction Act. The town will use the funds to help offset the cost of alternative renewable water supplies and the increasing cost of raw water supplies.
Reducing Gilbert’s share of Colorado River water will not have a direct impact on customers in terms of what water they receive at the tap. The reduction will come from water typically delivered to the town's recharge facilities for annual storage and recovery purposes, according to the town.
Gilbert will need to make this volume up through alternative supplies such as recovering previously stored water, according to the town. The proposed volume does not undermine the town’s long-term sustainability.
The town plans to continue to promote and ramp up its water conservation programs to reduce the impacts of existing and anticipated reductions in its Colorado River supplies.
The approval of this agreement comes exactly one year after Gilbert entered Stage 1 of its local water shortage management plan. That first stage, tabbed as “water education,” includes heightened efforts by the Town to decrease municipal water usage; a call on residents and businesses to voluntarily conserve water, especially outdoors; and increased community outreach and education.
Since then, Gilbert has launched two new water conservation rebate programs for town customers, with a third program — a residential grass removal rebate — coming later this summer.
Residents can learn more by visiting gilbertaz.gov/WaterShortage.