Every last drop: Tackling big questions about Arizona's water future

As water supplies dwindle, concern is rising in Arizona and throughout the Southwest. You have important questions. KJZZ explores the answers.

Water is arguably the most precious resource on Earth, essential to all forms of life. And the Colorado River has long been a lifeline for the Southwest. From ancient civilizations to modern times, it has allowed humans to inhabit the harsh Sonoran Desert and surrounding areas.

But now, the river and its largest reservoirs are drying up. Lake Mead and Lake Powell are at alarmingly low levels, and the Southwest is struggling to balance the worst drought in 12 centuries with an ever-expanding population.

As the water levels continue to fall, concern is rising among residents. People are asking what they should be doing, what the government is doing, and whether it’s even viable to continue living in the desert.

While it’s important to continue reporting on large-scale issues such as reservoir levels, state water rights and the regional Drought Contingency Plan, it’s just as important to focus on what this all means to you. How does the region’s fluctuating water supply affect everyday Arizonans – and how do everyday Arizonans affect that fluctuating water supply?

KJZZ is committed to ongoing coverage that puts the water crisis into context, helping Arizonans better understand the local and individual impacts.

Arizona and the Southwest are in the midst of the worst drought in centuries. That has led to a lot of concerns — and questions — about the state’s water supply. KJZZ set out to answer those questions. And we wanted to begin by focusing on the origins of our water. Ron Dungan explains where our water comes from, and the journey a single drop takes on its way to your faucet. →

The reservoirs Arizona relies on have fallen to all-time lows. And that has a lot of us re-evaluating our own water usage. Ron Dungan explores water usage in your home — and what might matter the most. →

As the Colorado River continues to dry up, more and more Arizona cities are activating their drought management plans. Katherine Davis-Young looks at how the city of Scottsdale has been able to reduce its water footprint this year. →

Some see the relatively clean outflow from washing machines, called “gray water,” as an untapped reservoir for water reuse. But is the issue really so black and white? Nicholas Gerbis takes a deep dive into what gray water is, what it takes to use it — and what competing interests might just make it irrelevant. →

Historic drought is making water more scarce in Arizona. That has Arizonans asking a lot of questions. Including how expensive their water bills might get. Katherine Davis-Young explores what goes into the cost of your water — and how your monthly bill might change. →

KJZZ has been looking at water in the Valley and the practical day-to-day impacts the current situation has on Arizonans. Host Mark Brodie talks to reporters Katherine Davis-Young, Ron Dungan and Nicholas Gerbis about what they learned about the state’s water future. →

Katherine Davis-Young, Ron Dungan, Nicholas Gerbis

Chad Snow

Sky Schaudt