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Tucson City Council approves plan to sustain, diversify future drinking water sources

The Tucson City Council has approved a plan laid out by municipal authorities to secure drinking water for residents in the coming years.

In a 6-1 vote last Tuesday, the council green-lit what's called the  One Water 2100 Plan — it's part of a sustainability package put together by Tucson officials and it spells out where drinking water for Tucson will come from in the coming years.

Natalie DeRoock, senior public information officer for Tucson Water, says recycled water — wastewater that has been treated to drinking water standards — is just one of several potential sources included in the plan. 

"The plan that places equal value on all water as an integrated and viable source for the community," she said.  "[Recycled water] is not something that we’re going to implement right away, and No. 2, we would definitely consider the thought of the community, the input of the community, in doing so ... what's really important to understand that it's one of many options for managing our water resources."

DeRoock says that doesn't mean the use of recycled water is imminent, and if it's determined to be a good option, implementing it will take time.  

One Water 2100 outlines four distinct drinking water sources — stormwater, groundwater, surface water and recycled water. DeRoock says the city is looking at ways to manage water resources depending on various factors — like Colorado River allocation, drought management and shifting community needs in Tucson.  

As first reported by the Arizona Daily Star, Tucson is joining cities in southern California already working on capturing stormwater as part of drinking water portfolios, and other cities that plan to use recycled and treated wastewater. 

DeRoock says with the approval from Tucson mayor and council, the plan will move forward into its implementation phase over the next year.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Natalie DeRoock's name.

Alisa Reznick is a senior field correspondent covering stories across southern Arizona and the borderlands for the Tucson bureau of KJZZ's Fronteras Desk.