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Phoenix joins growing list of AZ cities declaring drought

Arizona’s largest city is joining the growing the list of municipalities activating their drought management plans.  Phoenix declared a Stage 1 Water Alert on Wednesday.

About 40% of Phoenix’s water comes from the severely stressed Colorado River. The city's water managers said the drought declaration was necessary because they anticipate the river’s shortages will continue to worsen in coming years.

Arizona requires most large municipalities to have a drought management plan in place, but the plans vary and it's up to cities to decide when to activate them.  Mesa and Tempe have also activated their drought management plans in recent weeks. Scottsdale activated its plan last summer. 

Entering  Stage 1 of the drought management plan doesn’t mean Phoenix residents will be required to shut off the sprinklers or take shorter showers. But the city will be making a stronger push to educate customers about reducing their water footprint, said Cynthia Campbell, water resources management advisor for the city. 

“It puts the city in a position where we’re really trying to more actively educate our customers and ask them to take voluntary conservation actions to save water so they’re ready for what potentially could come,” Campbell told KJZZ News.

Campbell said the city is planning new advertising efforts to raise public awareness about water conservation. She said under the new drought declaration, the city's water department and volunteer water advocates will also have a stronger presence at public events and neighborhood meetings. 

“We think awareness and education actually will promote real conservation," Campbell said. "People will make the right decisions if they understand what they’re doing is not the most efficient way to use water.” 

Campbell said the most effective place for households to save water is in the yard. She said many water users are overwatering their lawns.

Katherine Davis-Young is a senior field correspondent reporting on a variety of issues, including public health and climate change.