For much of the country, summer means higher temperatures and decreased precipitation.  According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, more than 122 million people across the U.S. and Puerto Rico are facing abnormal dryness and drought.  Most of the Western U.S. states and down into Texas are already feeling the water crunch as they have been plagued by drought conditions for years.  These conditions have prompted numerous cities across the region to activate drought contingency plans or impose water restrictions.

At the beginning of June, Austin, Texas entered Stage one of its Drought Contingency Plan when the combined levels in Lakes Travis and Buchanan dropped below 1.4 million acre-feet.  For Austin and for other cities in Central Texas, it means shorter times allowed for irrigation.

Phoenix also activated its Drought Management Plan, announcing a Stage 1 Water Alert on June 1.  The city has reductions previously imposed on the entire state that began January 1 of this year as mandated by the 2019 Drought contingency Plan due to the Colorado River water shortage. Now, Stage 1 asks for voluntary reductions, much of which could come from reducing outdoor watering.  Other cities in Arizona such as Glendale, Mesa, Surprise and Tempe have also activated the first level of the drought management plans.  Scottsdale’s first stage was activated in August of last year which cancels water- hauling for approximately 700 households beginning January 2023.[1]

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California recently enacted water restrictions, mandating that outdoor watering be limited to one or two days per week for both residents and businesses.  San Diego also increased water restrictions, having had mandatory restrictions in place since 2016.  Level 2 restrictions primarily serve to increase regulations on irrigation.

Numerous other U.S cities are facing similar circumstances and imposing comparable restrictions including Santa Fe, New Mexico; Las Vegas, Nevada; Colorado Springs, Denver and Aspen, Colorado; Utah counties of Weber, Morgan, Davis, Summit and Box Elder and the cities of Riverdale and Lehi (Utah).  In addition to the restrictions, most cities are also increasing the level of public education about the water situation their city faces.  Changing behaviors, both at the individual level with conservation efforts and at the local and state levels with increased investment in infrastructure, will be necessary to navigate drought for the long-term.


[1] Mariniak, Paul, and Scott Shumaker. “Phoenix Issues Phase 1 Water Alert.” The Foothills Focus, 8 June 2022,