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  • Writer's pictureMark L. Johnson

Drought Update-3rd Quarter 2020

Tortolita Alliance (TA) attended the Local Drought Impact Group (LDIG) Meeting via Microsoft Team on September 9, 2020.

LDIG is a bi-monthly gathering of local and state water agencies to discuss latest drought conditions across the state of AZ. Attendees include: TA, Marana Water, Tucson Water, Metro Water, National Weather Service-Tucson, Central Arizona Project (CAP), Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR), Pima County Office of Sustainability & Conservation (OSC) and more.

The following information was gleaned from the meeting:

  • Drought Conditions-short term and long term drought conditions have worsened throughout all parts of AZ. See map above and go to ADWR Drought Status Web-Page to get more details.

  • Summer 2020 [June-August]-Hottest on record with 74 days 100 F or hotter. Rain-1.67" vs 4.84" normal

  • July 2020-Hottest on record with 4.5 F above normal. Rain-0.46" vs 2.25" normal

  • August 2020-Hottest on record with 6.7 F above normal. Rain-1.16" vs 2.39" normal

  • Monsoon Season-2nd driest on record. Go to NWS-Tucson Web-Page to get more details.

  • Colorado River System Forecast-Water Year 2020 (October 2019-September 2020) precipitation is 60-80% below normal (October-August) and September (to-date) is 30% below normal. Projected 3-month precipitation is below normal. Moderate La Nina conditions predicted for upcoming winter. Go to the Colorado River System Forecast Center for more details.

  • Colorado River System Reservoir Status-System Contents (amount of water in Lake Mead, Lake Powell and other smaller reservoirs) is at 49% as of 9/8/20. Go to USBR-Lower Colorado Region Website for the details. Lake Mead is at elevation 1,084.08 which is below elevation 1090' trigger for Tier Zero Restrictions of the Drought Contingency Plan (DCP) in 2020. This means Arizona must cut 192,000 acre-feet of its annual 2.8 million acre-feet allocation. USBR predicts that Lake Mead will be in Tier Zero through 2022 but could drop to Tier 1 if drought conditions worsen. If Tier 1 is reached, Arizona will need to cut 512,000 acre-feet. See Know Your H2O Part VII-Colorado River.

  • Big Horn Fire-Jeff Gicklhorn, Pima County, Pima County Ecology Monitoring Coordinator reports that vegetation is already reappearing in the scar areas.

  • Tortolita Mountain Fires-TA reported four Tortolita Mountain fires (Tortolita, Westridge, Dove & Edwin) with a total of 4,700 acres scared. TA and Pima County Ecology agreed to collaborate on monitoring fire area recovery.

For more information, see the following collage of Exhibits gleaned from LDIG Meeting


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