Q&AZ: Is it illegal to deny someone water in Arizona?

By Andrea Barrios
Published: Monday, July 31, 2023 - 7:05am
Updated: Friday, August 4, 2023 - 9:17am

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A cup of water filled with ice.
Sky Schaudt/KJZZ
Water is essential in the desert.

Almost every restaurant serves a free glass of water upon request. Some say this is because it is illegal to deny someone water in Arizona. A listener asked if this law really exists, and KJZZ's Q&AZ reporting project found the answer.

The origins of a law in Arizona making it illegal to deny someone water are unknown. Despite being repeated for decades, there is no such law.

Steve Chucri, CEO of the Arizona Restaurant Association, says restaurants and businesses can come to their own decision regarding water, so you may see some fine dining restaurants offer bottled water, while others may serve tap.

"The distinction is two-fold. One, you’re not required to by law, but restaurants are going to provide water," he said. "Two, you see a distinction between fine dining and other segments of our industry as to the types of water that is offered to guests."

Chucri says as the water crisis continues, some restaurants only serve water upon request instead of passing it out automatically to every customer.

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